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20-40-60 Etiquette---Swimming pool etiquette?


By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: I take my children to the swimming pool and always sit by the pool to keep an eye on them. Sometimes I wear my swimsuit, and sometimes I have on shorts. There is a group of older kids that continue to jump in the pool without regard to whom they are splashing, or what they are wearing. How do I politely ask them to stop without them retaliating against my children or me?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: Simply let the kids know: “You should be mindful of where you are getting in the pool so you don’t splash others.”

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I think if you’re sitting by the pool, you have a chance of getting wet and should plan accordingly. But you can ask them if they would direct their splashing away from you while you are sitting there watching your children.

It’s not an unreasonable request. If they are doing it on purpose to get those sitting by the sides of the pool wet, then you can be more direct as they are being deliberately rude. But chances are, they are splashing around and having fun like kids do in the water while oblivious to others.

The splashes get bigger and more intense (and the interaction can be hilarious to watch if you know the kids) as they get older. A gentle reminder might be all they need to shift the splashing away from you and your little ones. Small children with watchful moms don’t mix well with rambunctious older ones. When your kids grow into the older ones, you can teach them to be empathetic and aware of the younger ones by reminding them of this very situation and what it was like when they were small.

HELEN’S ANSWER: If you are at the swimming pool, you will probably continue to get wet even if you aren’t dressed for big splash.

Even when they walk by you, children are wet. Wear something that will dry fast, and sit away from the bigger kids who are making the splashes. If these splashes are bothering your smaller children, then, ask them to quit because of the danger of knocking them over in the water.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Christina Nihira, journalist and local community volunteer: As a parent, I understand about not wanting to get in the water for every pool outing. As mamas we have to worry about our hair and constant contact with that nasty chlorine right?

Kids, in contrast, find the appeal immeasurable. Pool time is the perfect way to cool off.

Water is enticing, and it’s just there begging to be splish-splashed everywhere.

To solve your dilemma, I recommend a couple of solutions. Consider changing your wardrobe when you opt not to wear your suit. Get a few active-wear shorts and T-shirts like Dry Fit that are more heat- and water-resistant if you want to sit closer to the pool’s edge.

To avoid a full-on assault, push your chair back and reposition it away from the pool edge. No doubt, you’ll still have a good visual should something happen. Get your kids to play in a different spot.

Being more direct, take the offenders aside, explain your concerns, and maybe throw in a treat for a bit of bribery to seal the deal.S

Remember, in the eyes of all kids, summer is all about having fun.

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

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