Parent Fight: Toddlers on Answering Machines

Happy early Mother’s Day. My wife has the soapbox today. Here is her hot button issue. (Click through to read…)

“Three of my closest friends have their child or children speaking their answering machine message.

The first time you hear a designer message, it’s amusing. After a few times, you long for the traditional, “Thanks for calling. We will return your call at the earliest convenience. Please speak at the beep.”

At a certain age, all kids are fascinated by phones. They want to dial them and speak to whoever will listen. I’ve had my fair share of toddler phone confabs. This is fine. Certainly it is hilarious listening to our Little Miss converse with her “colleagues.” But these instances are limited to family friends.

The answering machine is a different story. Anyone may call, not just your parental friends or family. I hesitate to say it (I haven’t even told my friends this, though some of them read Thingamababy, tee hee!), but I dislike children speaking on outgoing messages.

At what point do parents start thinking this is cute? At what point do they realize it’s annoying?

The kids’ words are often slurred. They talk too slow or too fast.

And if you’re the least bit concerned about stranger abduction, you’ve just revealed you #1 have a child, #2 provided the gender of the child, and #3 supplied the child’s name. Your home address is a mere hop, skip and jump away.

If you’re going to do it, you need to script out what they should say, and be sure it’s clear and concise enough to finish in 10 seconds.

My husband works from home, so for business purposes we will never go down this road. I’m betting every parent who doesn’t have their kids on their answering machine agrees with me.”

So what does ol’ AJ think? Okay, I suckered her into saying the “every parent will agree” claim. You’d think after reading the blog for a couple years that she’d know better.

I’m lukewarm on the issue. I could care less what you do on your answering machine so long as your name is clearly stated and I don’t have to take a pee break while waiting for the message to end.

How about you?


24 Responses to “Parent Fight: Toddlers on Answering Machines”

  1. RobMonroe says:

    I would not have my child on my answering machine for the same reasons that Thinga-Ma-Ma has pointed out. Your phone is not just for friends and family. If your doctors office calls with test results, I think they would hesitate leaving it on a jarbled kid-voiced message.

    Most cell phones have a “record a tone” feature. If you want your child to record a wacky greeting, do it on there. Whenever your phone rings you will hear “Hey Mom/Dad, Answer the phone!” You can still show it off to friends and family alike.

    May 8th, 2008 at 5:15 am

  2. Audi says:

    I work as a dispatcher and have to call my customers before sending the tech. I *HATE* waiting for unintelligible singing/skits, hearing the prompt then the kid parrot it. If the kid is old enough to say “You’ve reached the _____’s, leave a message” it’s fine. Other than that, I don’t think it’s appropriate.

    I also don’t like when you call a cell phone and you have to listen to 30-45 seconds of a music clips they’ve chosen before they pick up. (Last time that happened I was returning a call for an interview and he had Guar on his phone… not exactly the personality we’re looking to hire -thanks for the heads up!)

    Hmmm… at 7 months pregnant though, maybe I’m just grouchy! :-)

    May 8th, 2008 at 5:23 am

  3. Amy says:

    I totally agree with your wife about not having a child’s name on the machine. I have chosen not to do that for our household to protect my children. But I know plenty of others who think it is helpful for doctors’ offices, etc. Even there, they’re not leaving as much info anymore. Good post! Thanks for bringing it up!

    May 8th, 2008 at 6:19 am

  4. Jennifer says:

    Child or just a funny message you put on yourself, I find it all wrong. You never know who is going to call you. Your boss for some reason? Your posiible future employer? Potential clients? Besides a million other possibities. This is an answering machine. That’s all.

    I do have to say, however, that I do tend to put up with the messages my stepson puts on his because they are funny; and he changes them regularly. But, he also only uses that phone for friends and family. He gives out his landline number for everything else.

    May 8th, 2008 at 7:44 am

  5. JMo says:

    Totally agree – and it extends beyond children to animals and “funny” old men. Aside from the security concerns, it’s just plain ole annoying.

    May 8th, 2008 at 8:21 am

  6. kristina says:

    Not only do I agree, I will also add stop putting your young children on the phone to “talk” to me unless I ask to speak with them.

    May 8th, 2008 at 8:43 am

  7. michelle says:

    I don’t feel too strongly about this issue. I don’t mind waiting a minute or two for the kid message to play, although if it’s the first time I call, sometimes I wonder if I reached the right number.

    I have a 4 y.o. daughter, but she is NOT on the answering machine. She does talk on the phone to grandparents and she has one other close 4 y.o. friend that she talks to occasionally. I agree that it’s silly (bordering on torture) to ask someone to listen to her “talk” if they didn’t ask to do so.

    Thanks for bringing up the safety issue, I had not thought about that.

    May 8th, 2008 at 9:40 am

  8. Sara says:

    From an answering machine, I want to know if I reached the right person in like 5 seconds or less. We all know how to wait for the beep, etc. If a kid cannot do that clearly in a short amount of time (or a grownup, for that matter), keep ‘em of the machine, or I will be annoyed.

    May 8th, 2008 at 10:38 am

  9. Cindi says:

    Our son was around 6 years old when he did our recording. He did not give his name, nor our last name. His message was succinct and to the point! I have to admit he sounded adorable. At one point, my husband accidentally erased it! You should have heard our friends and family scold us.
    I actually cried because I can no longer hear his voice at that age, except in my heart and soul!

    May 8th, 2008 at 10:44 am

  10. thordora says:

    She’d hate ours. It’s currently sporting Mario Bros. Music. But we don’t care. If we don’t want to listen we hit pound or 33 or whatever will skip it.

    Toddlers ARE fun to let loose on telemarketers however.

    May 8th, 2008 at 11:36 am

  11. Beckie says:

    We are saved from this option by not having a home phone, just our personal cell phones, LOL! I have a friend who has her toddler on her machine, and I have yet to find the magic button to make it skip the long drawn out toddler babble…

    May 8th, 2008 at 12:24 pm

  12. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    I’m with you — it’s a meh. Nothing that I look forward to. But also not something I get upset over either.

    May 8th, 2008 at 2:20 pm

  13. Liz BK says:

    This reminds me of a genius article in WonderTime magazine. The author would only let her daughter perform for the adults (song, dance, skit, etc.) if the performance was both short and well rehearsed. Sounds like it taught the kids to work things out before showing them off…

    May 8th, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  14. kate says:

    OMG. What are you guys talkin’ ’bout. My little Phallen leaves a message and she is just soooo adorable. The message goes:

    (Me): Phallen, say “We are not home right now.”

    Phallen: Me nots homeble

    Me: So please leave a message.

    Phallen: Weeve messages fri-tomder.

    Me: Bye! Bye!

    Phallen: Unintelligble

    Me: Honey, this is recording, you have to say “Bye! BYE!”

    Phallen: Unintelligible

    Me: Phallen, I asked you to say Bye Bye, so let’s say it for the nice person who called but was not able to catch us at home. Okaaay?

    Phallen: Be-ba-ba ok (unintelligible)

    This goes on for about five minutes. My kid is a genius. Y’all are lucky that I don’t charge you to listen to her!

    May 8th, 2008 at 4:06 pm

  15. Darby says:

    I’m not the most patient person in the world but I am a little shocked at some of the attitudes about how “annoying” little kids or toddlers are to either hear on an answering machine or talk to on the phone.

    Are all of us adults so pressed for time that we can’t bear to wait 20 extra seconds for the message on an answering machine? I mean, didn’t you just call to speak with someone, which would have likely taken several minutes rather than less than one?

    With all of the other real crap us grown-ups have to deal with, you would think we could take a moment to appreciate such a message for what it really is…a young child experiencing the fun and excitement of technology and what it is like to record his or her own voice, and parents who are proud of their child and who are fun and carefree enough to do something a little silly with their kids and share it with others who are lucky enough to call when no one is home.

    Geez, people. Lighten up and enjoy the simple things in life a little.

    May 8th, 2008 at 7:16 pm

  16. gertie says:

    Do people even have home answering machines anymore? Everybody just has cell phones, right?

    In all seriousness, I was sick of novelty phone messages in 1988. The best messages go as follows: “You have reached _____. beeeeep!”

    And I do agree with your wife that toddler messages are annoying. Unless they call and leave you a message. That’s cute.

    May 8th, 2008 at 10:08 pm

  17. Tracy P says:

    I don’t mind the messages…especially if I know the child…

    May 9th, 2008 at 2:44 am

  18. Chief Family Officer says:

    We don’t have our kids on our answering machine and probably never will, but I actually don’t mind the few kid messages I’ve heard. Either I only call the number once or twice, or I’m close enough to the family that I just think it’s cute.

    May 9th, 2008 at 5:51 am

  19. Lydia says:

    I hate kids.

    May 9th, 2008 at 8:54 pm

  20. Miriam says:

    I’m a minimalist. I prefer all messages to be short and to-the-point. Even adults chatting about this or that. Just let me know I called the right number, please. Thanks.

    May 13th, 2008 at 1:46 am

  21. Synthya says:

    It’s annoying to hear a child answer the phone and/or on the answering machine. I find it down right inappropriate. If I call someone, the last thing I want to waste my time with is hearing a squeaky voiced child at the end. Remember parents”its your kid” so whatever they do, you are impressed with it. Have mercy on the the rest of us.

    July 12th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

  22. Angie says:

    Sorry Moms, I also have 2 kids and I have NEVER had them record a message on my answering machine. I find that to be really inappropriate and frankly, when I hear child recorded messages, to me it appears that the kids rule that household, not the parents. Be the parent, be in charge.

    July 24th, 2008 at 1:57 pm

  23. Christi says:

    Has anyone seen this petition? It’s hysterical!

    August 8th, 2008 at 6:54 am

  24. Deanna says:

    My six year old very clearly recorded the outgoing message on our home answering machine. My mother in law was disgusted claiming now people know we have kids in the house. First of all the message says we can’t get the phone leave a message, not her name or our for that matter. Second of all as far as strangers go, a lot less strangers drive by our house in a day than call it – Should I take the swing set down???? Give me a break. Keep the kids message short and I just don’t see the problem.

    August 13th, 2008 at 12:00 pm