Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: bonyk on October 06, 2012, 07:18:22 AM

Title: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: bonyk on October 06, 2012, 07:18:22 AM
I've been running into this situation lately.  People (sometimes acquaintances, sometimes strangers) let me know that they approve of my parenting style/choices. 

Sometimes it's a "Thank goodness you're not one of those parents!," said with a tone of disgust directed at "those" people.

Other times it's a, "You're doing the right thing!  Excellent job!," said in a truly encouraging tone. 

Both really offend me.  I don't want to be judged by people, even if they've decided that I 'pass'.  I think it's pretty rude to comment on parenting, even if it's positive.  Am I being hyper-sensitive?

I've been responding to both situations with silence.  Is there a better way?
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Zilla on October 06, 2012, 08:05:16 AM
This is where that one bad person ruins it for everyone else.  This site is full of stories of parents that let their kids run amok, scream/break/wreak havoc etc.  And in real life, I am sure you see varying degrees of this every day.  So it almost seems like well behaved kids are the exception instead of the norm.  I know for myself I get told a lot that my kids are so well behaved and so quiet etc as well.  But instead of being offended/feeling judged, I just thank them quietly.







Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: SleepyKitty on October 06, 2012, 09:07:38 AM
Both really offend me.  I don't want to be judged by people, even if they've decided that I 'pass'.  I think it's pretty rude to comment on parenting, even if it's positive.  Am I being hyper-sensitive?

Hmm. This is an interesting question. I think you are being a little sensitive, but at the same time I really do see your point. Judgement is judgement. After all, saying something like, "Thank Deity you're not one of those parents" not only makes you one of those parents if you deviate from your course, but also implies that you're parenting the way you do because you don't want to be one of those. Overall, judgements are very loaded and complex things and I completely understand why being judged by a stranger, even if that stranger approves, rubs you the wrong way.

I remember I was discussing something in the news one day, and an acquaintance said "Oh, I knew you couldn't be one of *Other Political Party* because you're way too smart." Actually, I AM one of the other political party, this person just caught me on a funny issue. Their judgement was approval, but that didn't mean I welcomed it or wanted it or that it was any of their business.

I think as far as responding goes, your best bet is a tight smile and bean dip, or if it's a stranger in the grocery store, a tight smile and nod and then going about your business. If the person persists, you can say something like, "It's hard to be a parent, so I try not to think of others as good or bad. After all, it depends on the day! Bean dip?"
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Sharnita on October 06, 2012, 09:23:29 AM
I think it can also be problematic when the kids hear, for several reasons.

1) It creates the impression that "we" are better than them.

2) They start to look at behavior they looked at as common place as something special their parents should praise or reward.  Up until then they were doing it because it seemed natural, which is kind of the goal.

30 It seems acceptable for others to judge them and announce whether they measure up.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: artk2002 on October 06, 2012, 09:25:23 AM
I'm sorry, it's a fact of life that you will be judged by others, whether you like it or not. You judge others whether they like it or not.

Yes, you're being hyper-sensitive. They've paid you a compliment. Enjoy it.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Acadianna on October 06, 2012, 10:55:13 AM
I'm sorry, it's a fact of life that you will be judged by others, whether you like it or not. You judge others whether they like it or not.

Yes, you're being hyper-sensitive. They've paid you a compliment. Enjoy it.

As usual (I'm tempted to say, "always"), I find myself agreeing with Artk.  Any compliment is a "judgment" of one kind or another.  I don't see any difference between "What a good parent you are!" and "Love your new hairstyle!"  The people saying it are trying to be nice and make you feel good.  I'd accept it in the spirit in which it's offered.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: AnnaJ on October 06, 2012, 11:03:00 AM
I think it may be something you have to accept with a certain amount of grace, even if you're cringing inside.

As someone said upthread, the parents who do not foster good behavior in their children may be a minority but they are an incredibly visible minority, and so discovering that the family you are seated next to at the restaurant are quiet and polite can be a pleasant surprise. 

And honestly I don't think there's anything wrong with children knowing that certain behavior is seen in a positive way by society - when we talk about kids being 'socialized', that's really what we mean.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on October 06, 2012, 11:06:57 AM
Oh dear, now I feel bad that I've occasionally commented to folks, usually I say something like, "Your children are very well-mannered, it's a wonderful sight!" or "Your kids are really well-behaved!"  Though I've never gone the "Thank heavens you're not one of *those* people!" route.

I didn't think that could be construed as offensive.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Two Ravens on October 06, 2012, 11:09:10 AM
But its not really a compliment. They are praising you for doing what they approve of. (I am assuming this is some specific issue, like breastfeeding, rather than complimenting general behavior). It's not "You are wearing a lovely shirt." It's "You are wearing a shirt that I approve of. Good for you!" It feels incredibly condescending.

But, sadly, I don't think there is much you can do about it, other than silence. So good for you, OP! You're doing the right thing!  >:D
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: #borecore on October 06, 2012, 11:13:19 AM
I think it's a genuine compliment and should be accepted as such.

I also think it'd be appropriate to say something (after the "thank you") like, "Yeah, it works for us, but we're not big on criticizing other parents' styles."
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Two Ravens on October 06, 2012, 11:23:56 AM
Most of the time this happens to me, I don't think it is a genuine compliment. It is more an opportunity for someone to wax poetic about one of their favorite causes. Even worse, sometimes it is done blatantly in front of people who have made an alternate choice. Talk about awkward!
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: bonyk on October 06, 2012, 11:45:19 AM
Oh dear, now I feel bad that I've occasionally commented to folks, usually I say something like, "Your children are very well-mannered, it's a wonderful sight!" or "Your kids are really well-behaved!"

OP, here.  Just to let you know, these comments would not bother me, and I would take them as a compliments.  :D

The situations that irk me are the ones that focus on me.  For example, DD and I were recently at story hour at the library.  She's not quite 2 yet.  The children are encouraged to sit, but it rarely happens, and it is considered okay for them to run around.  So, soon after the story started DD started running around the back of the room.  Rather than chase her, I stayed in the circle and watched her out of the corner of my eye.  The mom next to me turned to me and said, "You're handling this correctly!  That's the way to do it!"   I know she meant well, but I was irked.

Still too sensitive? 
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Sharnita on October 06, 2012, 11:48:13 AM
Oh dear, now I feel bad that I've occasionally commented to folks, usually I say something like, "Your children are very well-mannered, it's a wonderful sight!" or "Your kids are really well-behaved!"  Though I've never gone the "Thank heavens you're not one of *those* people!" route.

I didn't think that could be construed as offensive.

I think in the situations described in the OP it might be something like "I am so glad you are not one of those parents who let their kids drink soda" or "I am so glad you are not one of those parents whose kids eat chicken nuggets at restaurants" and so on.

I also think it can be tricky because when somebody says "It is so great to see kids eating politely in a restaurant/playing nicely on the playground/ listening in church" it might actually introduce the idea that there are other ways to behave.  My parents trained us pretty young so a lot of that just seemed to be the way it was done, no big deal.  I don't know, if we had heard a lot of people comment on it maybe some doubt would have drifted into our minds and we might have started to think there were other options as far as our behavior went.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Amava on October 06, 2012, 11:55:18 AM
Oh dear, now I feel bad that I've occasionally commented to folks, usually I say something like, "Your children are very well-mannered, it's a wonderful sight!" or "Your kids are really well-behaved!"

OP, here.  Just to let you know, these comments would not bother me, and I would take them as a compliments.  :D

The situations that irk me are the ones that focus on me.  For example, DD and I were recently at story hour at the library.  She's not quite 2 yet.  The children are encouraged to sit, but it rarely happens, and it is considered okay for them to run around.  So, soon after the story started DD started running around the back of the room.  Rather than chase her, I stayed in the circle and watched her out of the corner of my eye.  The mom next to me turned to me and said, "You're handling this correctly!  That's the way to do it!"   I know she meant well, but I was irked.

Still too sensitive?

Way too sensitive. Especially since you say that you /know/ she meant well, otherwise I would have wondered if there was some sort of sarcastic tone to her voice or something (implying the opposite of what she said). If you know she meant well, then there really is no reason to be irked by it.

She was trying to reassure you! Maybe she thought you were a little worried whether it was ok for your daughter to run around. And you were sitting next to each other at a library event, that is more a social situation than if, say, someone would walk up to you in a store while you were just shopping.

She was trying to be friendly, make conversation, and say positive things. I honestly have trouble seeing what she did wrong. Can we say nothing to each other anymore, is socialising such a minefield?
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Onyx_TKD on October 06, 2012, 12:24:17 PM
I'm sorry, it's a fact of life that you will be judged by others, whether you like it or not. You judge others whether they like it or not.

Yes, you're being hyper-sensitive. They've paid you a compliment. Enjoy it.

As usual (I'm tempted to say, "always"), I find myself agreeing with Artk.  Any compliment is a "judgment" of one kind or another.  I don't see any difference between "What a good parent you are!" and "Love your new hairstyle!"  The people saying it are trying to be nice and make you feel good.  I'd accept it in the spirit in which it's offered.

A judgement being made doesn't mean that it's appropriate to voice that judgement. After all, "I love your hairstyle" and "I love the size of your boobs" are both phrased as compliments, but one is socially acceptable to say to a stranger and one is very much not.  >:D

I think there's a subtle difference between compliments like "Love your new hairstyle" or "Your kids are so well behaved" versus the examples in the OP "Thank goodness you're not one of those parents" or "You're doing the right thing."

A statement like "Thank goodness you're not one of those parents" doesn't seem so much like a compliment as an insult to "those parents." It's not really saying that the recipient is doing anything good, only that they've avoided being one of "them," which would be bad in some vague, undefined way. "Thank goodness you're not one of those people who commits serial murder" has the exact same form, but would anyone really consider it a compliment, or would you start wondering why they are even contemplating the question of whether or not you're a serial killer? Complimenting someone on not being X suggests that there's a very real possibility they might have chosen to be X. If X is not that bad, then the recipient might have strongly considered that course of action, and the statement insults them as well. If X truly is that bad (e.g. being a serial killer), then suggesting there was a reasonable chance they might have been X isn't very complimentary, nor is it particularly noteworthy that they chose against it.

"You're doing the right thing" IMO sounds less like a compliment than an attempt to reassure someone who's having doubts about their course of action. So to me, it seems to be overstepping (thought quite possibly well-intentioned) to say it to someone you don't know. If I'm confidently doing X, I'm not going to feel complimented by someone acting like they know the situation better than I do and "reassuring" me that I'm doing the right thing. I know I'm doing the right thing, and if I didn't, I'd probably want advice from someone other than a random stranger.

"Love the new hairstyle" and "Your kids are so well behaved" sound like genuine compliments to me, and I think part of it is that they comment on a positive result without presuming to approve or disapprove the specific actions that got the result. They're more of a general sentiment of "Whatever it is that you're doing, it's working."
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Sharnita on October 06, 2012, 12:26:23 PM
Yeah, I can see that.  Kind of like - "You have my blessing so now you should feel free to continue."
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on October 06, 2012, 12:56:06 PM
"Thank goodness you're not one of *those* parents seems like a bit of a backhanded compliment to me, so I've always avoided saying it.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: NyaChan on October 06, 2012, 12:58:19 PM
I'd probably just say "Well, I do what works for my family,"  if I didn't feel comfortable saying thank you.  I can see how these comments are not so much a compliment as they are an indirect criticism of others.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: GSNW on October 06, 2012, 01:20:09 PM
It's really all in the phrasing, isn't it?  A backhanded compliment, or an issuance of approval that simultaneously tears someone else down, is no compliment at all.  Having said that, I compliment parents all the time when their children are kind, well-behaved citizens of my classroom (or great students, responsible, etc).  A true compliment should, IMO, focus on what the receiver is doing right, not what others are doing wrong.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Susiqzer on October 06, 2012, 01:25:04 PM
OP, I absolutely know what you mean. In those situations, I usually say something like "um, thanks?" to show that I don't quite understand their comment.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on October 06, 2012, 01:26:52 PM
It can be a backhanded compliment if it turns out they're just using it as a lift onto their own soapbox, or patting themselves on the back. 

I usually will just say "Well thank you, I think half of it is luck, though!"
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: cicero on October 06, 2012, 01:37:34 PM
I've been running into this situation lately.  People (sometimes acquaintances, sometimes strangers) let me know that they approve of my parenting style/choices. 

Sometimes it's a "Thank goodness you're not one of those parents!," said with a tone of disgust directed at "those" people.

Other times it's a, "You're doing the right thing!  Excellent job!," said in a truly encouraging tone. 

Both really offend me.  I don't want to be judged by people, even if they've decided that I 'pass'.  I think it's pretty rude to comment on parenting, even if it's positive.  Am I being hyper-sensitive?

I've been responding to both situations with silence.  Is there a better way?
I have to say that there have been times that I have complimented parents on their children's behavior. I never thought of it as being judging; rather a compliment, an understanding that being a parent is a tough job and it's nice to see our efforts as bearing fruit.

Obviously if someone is condescending, or PA about it, then that is no fun.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Mikayla on October 06, 2012, 02:59:11 PM
Yeah, I can see that.  Kind of like - "You have my blessing so now you should feel free to continue."

This is exactly how I see it.  A positive comment relating to a child is pretty black and white.  It's a compliment and you say thank you.

A parenting compliment from a stranger isn't always so obvious, nor is the response always going to be thank you.  It's more of a minefield.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Iris on October 06, 2012, 05:38:35 PM
"You're doing this correctly" is exactly the kind of thing I would say - to my students. From one adult to another it would seem a bit off to me. Like there's only one correct way to parent, she is the gold standard model of that, and you have successfully emulated her. I agree I wouldn't find that a compliment like "oh your kids are well behaved". Personally I would have gone with a weak smile, a "hmm", and then disengaged.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Ms Aspasia on October 06, 2012, 06:55:40 PM
<snip>

She was trying to be friendly, make conversation, and say positive things. I honestly have trouble seeing what she did wrong. Can we say nothing to each other anymore, is socialising such a minefield?
I think there's plenty we can say, and that socialising has nuances worth discussing here.  For example, "Glad you're not one of those parents" is often a mis-step, as parents tend to try lots of different approaches that wouldn't be visible to the commenter.  A compliment about the child, or an observation about the event, is a better ice-breaker with a stranger than one involving a judgment.  "You're doing it correctly" is better between friends than strangers; I can see it being just fine when someone has asked for a friend's opinion.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: artk2002 on October 06, 2012, 08:42:57 PM
Yeah, I can see that.  Kind of like - "You have my blessing so now you should feel free to continue."

Is that what you're thinking when you compliment someone else?

No? I didn't think so.

Then why attribute that intent to someone else?
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Sharnita on October 06, 2012, 08:45:38 PM
Yeah, I can see that.  Kind of like - "You have my blessing so now you should feel free to continue."

Is that what you're thinking when you compliment someone else?

No? I didn't think so.

Then why attribute that intent to someone else?


I  don't see what OP describes as a compliment so there is no issue from my perspective. 
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: CakeEater on October 06, 2012, 09:02:22 PM
I think there's a world of difference between, 'Your kids are so well-behaved', and 'You're handling this particular situation correctly'. he first is a compliment, and the second is ridiculously patronising. It's in the same category as unsolicited advice.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: O'Dell on October 06, 2012, 10:18:08 PM
I think it's pretty rude to comment on parenting, even if it's positive.  Am I being hyper-sensitive?

As a general rule I agree that it's rude, but not just about parenting. More people should mind their own business. There are exceptions. I can actually see how the wording "You're doing the right thing!  Excellent job!," said in a truly encouraging tone. might be nice if you seemed troubled or unsure of yourself when you did something...said along the lines of "You're doing okay. Don't second guess yourself." I can also see someone saying "Oh you handled that really well!" when they see a particularly impressive parenting act.

If it's said as an endorsement though, I don't think you are hyper-sensitive so much as reacting to an arrogant statement. Could that maybe be what you are feeling? It does seem hyper-sensitive if you are "offended" by the remark. To me it makes more sense to write it off as arrogance and do an internal eye-roll. And silence is the way to go. Don't give the person any encouragement like a smile or thank you. But also don't give them any power over your actions by making it more negative than necessary. Silence is a nice reaction is this case.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: MariaE on October 07, 2012, 01:40:15 AM
I think there's a world of difference between, 'Your kids are so well-behaved', and 'You're handling this particular situation correctly'. he first is a compliment, and the second is ridiculously patronising. It's in the same category as unsolicited advice.

Agreed. It's all in the phrasing. Actually it's the 'correctly' I object to. Had she instead said, "You're handling this perfectly" I would again have taken it as a compliment.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: CakeEater on October 07, 2012, 04:16:24 AM
I think there's a world of difference between, 'Your kids are so well-behaved', and 'You're handling this particular situation correctly'. he first is a compliment, and the second is ridiculously patronising. It's in the same category as unsolicited advice.

Agreed. It's all in the phrasing. Actually it's the 'correctly' I object to. Had she instead said, "You're handling this perfectly" I would again have taken it as a compliment.

Out of genuine interest, because obviously we agree here, what do you see as the difference between correctly and perfectly? I see perfectly as correctly, but to the nth degree, so there would be no difference in meaning for me.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: MariaE on October 07, 2012, 05:55:44 AM
I think there's a world of difference between, 'Your kids are so well-behaved', and 'You're handling this particular situation correctly'. he first is a compliment, and the second is ridiculously patronising. It's in the same category as unsolicited advice.

Agreed. It's all in the phrasing. Actually it's the 'correctly' I object to. Had she instead said, "You're handling this perfectly" I would again have taken it as a compliment.

Out of genuine interest, because obviously we agree here, what do you see as the difference between correctly and perfectly? I see perfectly as correctly, but to the nth degree, so there would be no difference in meaning for me.

In my head (which may be weird, I grant you that ;) ), "correctly" is something a teacher says to a student. Thus it becomes patronizing in the example given above. "Perfectly" is an admiring comment between peers... sort of like "Wow! You handled that so well! I look up to you."

... I should probably at this point remind you that English is not my first language, so this may not actually make sense to anybody other than me :)
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Iris on October 07, 2012, 06:47:59 AM
I think there's a world of difference between, 'Your kids are so well-behaved', and 'You're handling this particular situation correctly'. he first is a compliment, and the second is ridiculously patronising. It's in the same category as unsolicited advice.

Agreed. It's all in the phrasing. Actually it's the 'correctly' I object to. Had she instead said, "You're handling this perfectly" I would again have taken it as a compliment.

Out of genuine interest, because obviously we agree here, what do you see as the difference between correctly and perfectly? I see perfectly as correctly, but to the nth degree, so there would be no difference in meaning for me.

In my head (which may be weird, I grant you that ;) ), "correctly" is something a teacher says to a student. Thus it becomes patronizing in the example given above. "Perfectly" is an admiring comment between peers... sort of like "Wow! You handled that so well! I look up to you."

... I should probably at this point remind you that English is not my first language, so this may not actually make sense to anybody other than me :)

Nope, I agree. I would use both correct and perfect with my students, but only perfect with other adults.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: bonyk on October 07, 2012, 07:00:27 AM
OP here:  Thank you for dissecting that for me.  You guys really got to the root of what bugged. (genuinely, no condescension.  ;))

It definitely felt like it was something a teacher would say to a student. I also think it was the word "correctly" that put it over the edge for me. 
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: TootsNYC on October 07, 2012, 07:06:53 AM
I'm sorry, it's a fact of life that you will be judged by others, whether you like it or not. You judge others whether they like it or not.

Yes, you're being hyper-sensitive. They've paid you a compliment. Enjoy it.

But it's not a compliment--it's a complaint clothed in a compliment.

These people are using the OP as an opportunity to complain about other parents.

I suggest perhaps a mild "I hate to judge other parents--everybody tries their best, and it's not an easy skill to learn. I don't consider myself an expert."
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Amava on October 07, 2012, 07:16:46 AM
OP here:  Thank you for dissecting that for me.  You guys really got to the root of what bugged. (genuinely, no condescension.  ;))

It definitely felt like it was something a teacher would say to a student. I also think it was the word "correctly" that put it over the edge for me.

Ok I'm on the other end (as you could tell from my previous post), but these explanations do indeed help me, too, understand better why it would bug you and some others.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: bonyk on October 07, 2012, 08:25:41 AM
OP here:  Thank you for dissecting that for me.  You guys really got to the root of what bugged. (genuinely, no condescension.  ;))

It definitely felt like it was something a teacher would say to a student. I also think it was the word "correctly" that put it over the edge for me.

Ok I'm on the other end (as you could tell from my previous post), but these explanations do indeed help me, too, understand better why it would bug you and some others.

Thanks, Amaya.  I definitely appreciate perspectives from the other side, too, because regardless of how I felt about the comment, I knew it was not intended to irk me.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: jaxsue on October 07, 2012, 11:02:17 AM
I had 5 siblings. We were stair-steps - I am the youngest and my oldest sibling is only 8.5 yrs older than I am. So when we were all kids and our family walked into a restaurant, people would have that "Oh, no!" look. Fortunately, my parents had taught us good dining manners and several times we were complimented on our behavior. We never saw it as anything but a positive thing.

I work for a retail merchandiser that requires me to work in 6 NJ Walmarts a week. To say that I see/hear kids melting down or running wild in the stores would be a vast understatement; it gets old fast. So once in a while I compliment a child's behavior, not in the "Good thing you're not like the others" way, but saying how awesome it is that they're helping with the shopping (FTR, the adult is always right there with them). So far no negative responses, and I do this maybe once every few weeks. I hope a positive statement of that type is not misconstrued.

Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Auntie Mame on October 07, 2012, 11:28:14 AM
I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: jaxsue on October 07, 2012, 11:32:18 AM
I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

To be safe I'll do the same thing from now on.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: oogyda on October 07, 2012, 11:45:52 AM
I think it's a genuine compliment and should be accepted as such.

I also think it'd be appropriate to say something (after the "thank you") like, "Yeah, it works for us, but we're not big on criticizing other parents' styles."

If I thought someone was giving me a genuine compliment, I certainly wouldn't follow it with such an insult!
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: jaxsue on October 07, 2012, 01:14:37 PM
It might be regional, too. I grew up in small towns in the upper midwest. Speaking to strangers - even children - was not considered odd; small talk with people you didn't know was the norm. Ditto with the deep south.

Now I live near NYC, and while I love some things about it here it is definitely more the norm to keep to oneself. Fortunately, I live in a Central NJ n'hood where people talk to each other. Some of my city friends think it's weird, but I really like it.  :)
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Cami on October 07, 2012, 01:23:22 PM
So now it's wrong to give someone a compliment?  Guess we're supposed to go through life and not make a single sound to anyone. No wonder so many people feel lonely and disconnected from others.

I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

To be safe I'll do the same thing from now on.
Apparently I should be doing the same.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Allyson on October 07, 2012, 01:59:13 PM
I wouldn't be bothered by a 'you're doing this correctly' comment. I think the only thing that would bother me would be if they were basically using what I was doing as a way to put down others who did things differently, or made different choices. I'm not a parent but if someone came up to me and said, 'Oh, I'm so glad to see you're not one of *those* women who lives alone/dates someone a different culture/reads Twilight' I would then want to go out and do all of those things. :D
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: artk2002 on October 07, 2012, 02:17:01 PM
I'm sorry, it's a fact of life that you will be judged by others, whether you like it or not. You judge others whether they like it or not.

Yes, you're being hyper-sensitive. They've paid you a compliment. Enjoy it.

But it's not a compliment--it's a complaint clothed in a compliment.

These people are using the OP as an opportunity to complain about other parents.

I suggest perhaps a mild "I hate to judge other parents--everybody tries their best, and it's not an easy skill to learn. I don't consider myself an expert."

I'm really sorry that so many people have such judgmental and condescending people in their lives.

Here's what I am thinking when I compliment a parent: Parenting can be a tough and frustrating job. Yes it has its rewards, but there are days when nothing you do goes right. Everybody and his cousin has an opinion about how you should do your job and they have no hesitation in telling you that you're doing it wrong.

I figure that once in a while, someone doing a tough job would appreciate a kind word. I know that I appreciate it when someone says something nice to me

If that makes me judgmental and condescending, then I'll wear that badge with pride.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Two Ravens on October 07, 2012, 02:35:37 PM
I don't think anyone is saying it is wrong to pay a compliment. Just that compliments should be about the other person, not the fact that they are validating your point of view.

Also, consider what it is the compliment is for.  Would you compliment someone on something that should be natural and commonplace, like discipling their children? Would you compliment someone for paying thier taxes?
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: artk2002 on October 07, 2012, 02:48:41 PM
I don't think anyone is saying it is wrong to pay a compliment. Just that compliments should be about the other person, not the fact that they are validating your point of view.

Also, consider what it is the compliment is for.  Would you compliment someone on something that should be natural and commonplace, like discipling their children? Would you compliment someone for paying thier taxes?

Yes, I do think you should compliment someone for something that "should be natural and commonplace." I thank people for doing their jobs. I compliment people simply because I feel nice.

My larger point is: How do you know that someone is saying something nice simply to validate their point of view? To me, that requires a level of mind-reading that I prefer not to engage in. I've found my life much more pleasant since I started taking nice words at face value.

As I asked earlier, would you say something nice to someone to validate your point of view, or would you say something nice simply to say something nice? If it's the latter and not the former, why would you assume that others only do the former?
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Rohanna on October 07, 2012, 04:41:11 PM
So now it's wrong to give someone a compliment?  Guess we're supposed to go through life and not make a single sound to anyone. No wonder so many people feel lonely and disconnected from others.

I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

To be safe I'll do the same thing from now on.
Apparently I should be doing the same.

Why do people in these threads always say "Oh, parents don't like interferance/passive-aggressive behaviour/condecension? I guess I just should talk to them EVER then". When the exact same behaviour comes from a mother-in-law, co-worker, or boyfriend we don't tend to blame the victim. How about we try to be nicer to everyone?
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: AnnaJ on October 07, 2012, 05:08:45 PM
So now it's wrong to give someone a compliment?  Guess we're supposed to go through life and not make a single sound to anyone. No wonder so many people feel lonely and disconnected from others.

I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

To be safe I'll do the same thing from now on.
Apparently I should be doing the same.

Why do people in these threads always say "Oh, parents don't like interferance/passive-aggressive behaviour/condecension? I guess I just should talk to them EVER then". When the exact same behaviour comes from a mother-in-law, co-worker, or boyfriend we don't tend to blame the victim. How about we try to be nicer to everyone?

Errr...victim?  I absolutely agree that a compliment that's really forwarding a personal agenda (You parent like I do/would, unlike those other parents) isn't nice, but I wouldn't say the person they are talking to is a 'victim'. 



Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Sharnita on October 07, 2012, 05:25:07 PM
Part of the issue is the idea that there is one "correct" way of parenting in the case described by the OP (or many cases).  Some random stranger doesn't know the kid in question, what happened previously in the day, what is planned for later in the day, etc.  I know that there are some cases where a parent will do something totally different for one kid than another because what works for one won't work for the other. In other cases there might be a whole lot of background info somebody would need to know before they could ever make the call as to whether a parent was handling something "correctly" or not.  For a stranger to walk up cold, not knowing anybody or anything and give a passing grade just seems a bit absurd to me. 
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Rohanna on October 07, 2012, 05:25:51 PM
Well I wouldn't precisely call someone who's got a mildly annoying MIL a "victim" either, but lots of people would use the phrase the way I did too... I meant it as "the person who is/feels wronged". A victim doesn't have to suffer something physical or extreme- you could be the victim of a scam, or peer pressure, or even a "fashion victim".
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: AnnaJ on October 07, 2012, 05:31:49 PM
Well I wouldn't precisely call someone who's got a mildly annoying MIL a "victim" either, but lots of people would use the phrase the way I did too... I meant it as "the person who is/feels wronged". A victim doesn't have to suffer something physical or extreme- you could be the victim of a scam, or peer pressure, or even a "fashion victim".

Ah, got it.  I've been on a grading frenzy today and am apparently still on word choice mode, sorry.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Rohanna on October 07, 2012, 05:53:51 PM
No worries- I was using the phrase casually not formally :)
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Cami on October 07, 2012, 05:55:54 PM
So now it's wrong to give someone a compliment?  Guess we're supposed to go through life and not make a single sound to anyone. No wonder so many people feel lonely and disconnected from others.

I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

To be safe I'll do the same thing from now on.
Apparently I should be doing the same.

Why do people in these threads always say "Oh, parents don't like interferance/passive-aggressive behaviour/condecension? I guess I just should talk to them EVER then". When the exact same behaviour comes from a mother-in-law, co-worker, or boyfriend we don't tend to blame the victim. How about we try to be nicer to everyone?

How is "You're doing an excellent job at parenting" condescending, PA, or interfering? It's a compliment. A simple compliment. It's a serious stretch or rather, a deliberate twist of meaning (that reveals more about the recipient's world view than the intent of the speaker) to view that as anything other than a simple compliment.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: kareng57 on October 07, 2012, 06:00:57 PM
So now it's wrong to give someone a compliment?  Guess we're supposed to go through life and not make a single sound to anyone. No wonder so many people feel lonely and disconnected from others.

I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

To be safe I'll do the same thing from now on.
Apparently I should be doing the same.

Why do people in these threads always say "Oh, parents don't like interferance/passive-aggressive behaviour/condecension? I guess I just should talk to them EVER then". When the exact same behaviour comes from a mother-in-law, co-worker, or boyfriend we don't tend to blame the victim. How about we try to be nicer to everyone?

How is "You're doing an excellent job at parenting" condescending, PA, or interfering? It's a compliment. A simple compliment. It's a serious stretch or rather, a deliberate twist of meaning (that reveals more about the recipient's world view than the intent of the speaker) to view that as anything other than a simple compliment.


I very much agree.  I loved getting complimented on my kids' behaviour when they were young, and did the same for other younger parents when I got older.  I think people simply like to see future adults behaving in a nice way.  It's indeed OOT for anyone to refer to "those other parents over there" - but I don't think a smiling "hey, you sure got that right!" is necessarily condescending.  It's all in the tone.

It's indeed tempting to withhold compliments to strangers at all, if they're going to be micro-analysed as in this thread.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Rohanna on October 07, 2012, 06:12:21 PM
A "compliment" can absolutely be condecending- depending on tone, time, place, and phrasing. I've had men compliment me on things that they'd *never* compliment a man on, and it's rubbed me rather the wrong way "YOU can change a tire? Awesome"....why is that awesome? Would it be awesome if you saw a man do it? My husband gets the same thing from women "You change diapers? That's so nice you help your wife".... he's a parent too, why shouldn't he?

Getting a compliment like the one the OP did would make me feel like the person thought they were "above" me to be handing out praise like that- it smacks of boss/employee or parent/child interaction (you handled that perfectly- here's a gold star!). It's much better to simply say "What a well behaved child" or "Your kids were so good during dinner", or "what nice manners".

 Direct the comment as a pleasant observation about the kid/children- not an appraisal or evaluation of the parent.  The former just seems like you noticed a positive attribute, the latter feels like you were under judgement or evaluation.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: lollylegs on October 07, 2012, 06:12:39 PM
I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

That's not very fair.  I agree with Rohanna, I think everyone was having a pleasant discussion about the OP and this bitter, 'Fine, I won't say anything to parents ever because all they'll do is yell at me,' really drags the tone down.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: artk2002 on October 07, 2012, 06:39:58 PM
I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

That's not very fair.  I agree with Rohanna, I think everyone was having a pleasant discussion about the OP and this bitter, 'Fine, I won't say anything to parents ever because all they'll do is yell at me,' really drags the tone down.

And I disagree with you. Your "pleasant discussion" consisted of accusing us (those who give unsolicited compliments) of some very nasty motivations. Accusations without one shred of evidence.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: TootsNYC on October 07, 2012, 06:42:49 PM
I don't think anyone is saying it is wrong to pay a compliment. Just that compliments should be about the other person, not the fact that they are validating your point of view.

Also, consider what it is the compliment is for.  Would you compliment someone on something that should be natural and commonplace, like discipling their children? Would you compliment someone for paying thier taxes?

Exactly! You want to compliment me? Say, "you have lovely children!"

I'll beam and think it's wonderful.

Say, "It's nice to see how involved you are with your kids" or "I like the way you handled that!"

But don't say to me, "it's nice to see how involved you are with your kids--other parents aren't."
And ESPECIALLY don't say (in the OP's original example): "so glad you're not like OTHER parents."
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Sharnita on October 07, 2012, 06:49:10 PM
I do think that once or twice it seems like my nieces or nephews have had their behavior complimented when about 5 minutes before the complimentor has crossed their path they have actually been snarly or otherwise misbehaving a bit. Mom or dad usually ends up wincing a bit.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: AngelBarchild on October 07, 2012, 07:15:17 PM
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Not everything has a deeper meaning.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: kareng57 on October 07, 2012, 09:43:56 PM
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Not everything has a deeper meaning.


Thank you!  Maybe something like "wow, you sure changed that tire fast!" means exactly that - you changed that tire very quickly.  Not because you're a woman, or because you're 5 feet tall....just, you changed that tire fast.

If we're talking about compliments from complete strangers - why not just take them at face value, and say Thank You, rather than assuming that there's a hidden agenda, and therefore replying with complete silence or an icy glare?  I do understand that if they're from people that we see fairly regularly - such as neighbours or extended family members - perhaps there's more of a message, if there's indeed enough background to support it.  But from seemingly-nice strangers who you (generic) will probably never see again - why expend the mental energy to search for a hidden meaning?
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Rohanna on October 07, 2012, 10:12:25 PM
You can't see the difference between "wow, you changed that tire fast" and "wow YOU can change a tire?", because I sure can. I'd say 75% of this board is irrelavent if people are supposed to ignore tone, body language, innuendo and follow the "cigar is just a cigar" rule on every statement and action. I would not take the the statement you made up to be insulting or condecending, but I would take the one I actually wrote as such.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Onyx_TKD on October 07, 2012, 10:18:46 PM
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Not everything has a deeper meaning.


Thank you!  Maybe something like "wow, you sure changed that tire fast!" means exactly that - you changed that tire very quickly.  Not because you're a woman, or because you're 5 feet tall....just, you changed that tire fast.

If we're talking about compliments from complete strangers - why not just take them at face value, and say Thank You, rather than assuming that there's a hidden agenda, and therefore replying with complete silence or an icy glare?  I do understand that if they're from people that we see fairly regularly - such as neighbours or extended family members - perhaps there's more of a message, if there's indeed enough background to support it.  But from seemingly-nice strangers who you (generic) will probably never see again - why expend the mental energy to search for a hidden meaning?

To me, a comment like
Sometimes it's a "Thank goodness you're not one of those parents!," said with a tone of disgust directed at "those" people.
does not "seem nice." There's no mental energy expended on finding hidden meanings--it simply does not come across as nice to me. From my perspective, "face value" is a judgmental statement about "those parents," and finding the good intentions in that statement is what involves looking for the hidden meaning. Obviously, others will interpret it differently, and the intentions may very well be good. However, I'm not inclined to reward unsolicited comments that I find objectionable.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Sharnita on October 07, 2012, 10:25:47 PM
Or maybe "You brought the right brand of tires" which strikes me as a bit different as well and is also a bit risky because they might have a different brand on their other car.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: baglady on October 07, 2012, 11:34:42 PM
Why not just compliment the child directly? This gives them both the credit they deserve -- the parent for teaching the child to behave properly, and the kid for doing it.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: kareng57 on October 07, 2012, 11:54:13 PM
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Not everything has a deeper meaning.


Thank you!  Maybe something like "wow, you sure changed that tire fast!" means exactly that - you changed that tire very quickly.  Not because you're a woman, or because you're 5 feet tall....just, you changed that tire fast.

If we're talking about compliments from complete strangers - why not just take them at face value, and say Thank You, rather than assuming that there's a hidden agenda, and therefore replying with complete silence or an icy glare?  I do understand that if they're from people that we see fairly regularly - such as neighbours or extended family members - perhaps there's more of a message, if there's indeed enough background to support it.  But from seemingly-nice strangers who you (generic) will probably never see again - why expend the mental energy to search for a hidden meaning?

To me, a comment like
Sometimes it's a "Thank goodness you're not one of those parents!," said with a tone of disgust directed at "those" people.
does not "seem nice." There's no mental energy expended on finding hidden meanings--it simply does not come across as nice to me. From my perspective, "face value" is a judgmental statement about "those parents," and finding the good intentions in that statement is what involves looking for the hidden meaning. Obviously, others will interpret it differently, and the intentions may very well be good. However, I'm not inclined to reward unsolicited comments that I find objectionable.


Fair enough.  I already said that I was excluding comments such as "it's good that you're not one of those parents", so I don't really understand the need to assert this, once again.

I was referring to comments such as "nice to see such well behaved kids".  But I guess that I had better refrain, from now on, due to the comments on this thread.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: kareng57 on October 08, 2012, 12:01:32 AM
You can't see the difference between "wow, you changed that tire fast" and "wow YOU can change a tire?", because I sure can. I'd say 75% of this board is irrelavent if people are supposed to ignore tone, body language, innuendo and follow the "cigar is just a cigar" rule on every statement and action. I would not take the the statement you made up to be insulting or condecending, but I would take the one I actually wrote as such.


Where did I say that I could not see the difference between that two kinds of comments???  If anyone is being condescending  in their assumption - it's you.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: lollylegs on October 08, 2012, 12:03:14 AM
I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

That's not very fair.  I agree with Rohanna, I think everyone was having a pleasant discussion about the OP and this bitter, 'Fine, I won't say anything to parents ever because all they'll do is yell at me,' really drags the tone down.

And I disagree with you. Your "pleasant discussion" consisted of accusing us (those who give unsolicited compliments) of some very nasty motivations. Accusations without one shred of evidence.

Fair call. I read it as an interesting conversation about how different words and phrases can have different meaning for different people, but I can understand why someone else might have a different interpretation. However, I do object to the bolded ('Parents are far too sensitive') and I think that the sentiment could have been expressed in a better manner.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Rohanna on October 08, 2012, 12:07:49 AM
If you can see the difference, then why did you change what I said to argue the point- it totally changes the meaning of what I posted, making my arguement weaker and yours stronger.

I think pretty much everyone is this thread is saying that, Kareng57. I know have repeatedly, and I just read the entire thread and found most people saying the same thing- it's okay on the most part to make a general comment about good behaviour, but it's not okay to attach a judgement on other people or a value judgement to it. I don't think most people are asking that no one compliments them at all- just that they don't appreciate back-handed, passive-aggressive, or condecending statements masked as one. If someone can't appreciate the difference between the statements:

"Your children are well behaved" and "Your children are well behaved, thank goodness you aren't one of *those* parents"

then perhaps it is in fact best they refrain from talking to strangers.

It is, to use a non-child analogy since some people on this board (and elsewhere) get very hung-up on that, the difference between saying


"I like your shirt, it's pretty" and "I like your shirt, thank goodness you don't wear low cut shirts like *those* girls", or

"I love your new bike, it's very eco-friendly" and "I love your new bike, thank goodness you don't drive to work like *some* people".



See the difference? If you do- why is it okay to talk like that about parenting? If I started saying I wouldn't talk to any women because I refused to learn the difference between complimenting a shirt and insulting other peoples morals, I'm fairly certain I'd be called ridiculous. What if the person I talked to sometimes *does* like to show off a little cleavage? Pretty easy to tell I've probably offended her now, right? Well what if sometimes, when they're tired, that parent's kids don't behave as well... is she now one of "those" parents? What if her sister is one of "those" parents.

It's better to avoid value-judgement statements around people you don't know well, and if you use them, I don't think getting huffy about people taking even mild offense to it is very fair.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Onyx_TKD on October 08, 2012, 01:25:48 AM
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Not everything has a deeper meaning.


Thank you!  Maybe something like "wow, you sure changed that tire fast!" means exactly that - you changed that tire very quickly.  Not because you're a woman, or because you're 5 feet tall....just, you changed that tire fast.

If we're talking about compliments from complete strangers - why not just take them at face value, and say Thank You, rather than assuming that there's a hidden agenda, and therefore replying with complete silence or an icy glare?  I do understand that if they're from people that we see fairly regularly - such as neighbours or extended family members - perhaps there's more of a message, if there's indeed enough background to support it.  But from seemingly-nice strangers who you (generic) will probably never see again - why expend the mental energy to search for a hidden meaning?

To me, a comment like
Sometimes it's a "Thank goodness you're not one of those parents!," said with a tone of disgust directed at "those" people.
does not "seem nice." There's no mental energy expended on finding hidden meanings--it simply does not come across as nice to me. From my perspective, "face value" is a judgmental statement about "those parents," and finding the good intentions in that statement is what involves looking for the hidden meaning. Obviously, others will interpret it differently, and the intentions may very well be good. However, I'm not inclined to reward unsolicited comments that I find objectionable.


Fair enough.  I already said that I was excluding comments such as "it's good that you're not one of those parents", so I don't really understand the need to assert this, once again.

I was referring to comments such as "nice to see such well behaved kids".  But I guess that I had better refrain, from now on, due to the comments on this thread.

OK, let me rephrase a bit. First, I didn't see you specifying that you were excluding that category of comments; I must have missed that in one of your previous posts. I chose that particular example because it was the more extreme case to illustrate my point. I'll try to clarify what I meant.

Your post implied to me that you thought negative reactions to various "compliments" listed in the thread were the result of looking for "hidden agendas." IOW, that people were actually making an effort to nit-pick and seek out the worst in compliments they receive. What I am trying to explain is that there is no such effort on my part--I object to certain "compliments" because I cannot imagine any tone in which they would come across to me as genuinely nice compliments. It's possible that someone could say them in a tone that would come across as genuine and innocent, rather than judgmental or arrogant, but I honestly cannot imagine such a delivery no matter how hard I try.

When I try to picture someone saying these things, the comments about "those parents" come across as nasty and judgmental to me, while the comments that "you're doing it correctly" seem arrogant and presumptuous. Maybe someone can say them in a tone that gives a different vibe, but I can't picture it. I have no objection whatsoever to comments like "Your kids are so well-behaved" because those "sound" truly complimentary to me without the unpleasant undertones. Someone else might have a negative reaction to it, but I don't recall anyone on this thread objecting to compliments on kids' good behavior, only comments on parenting style.

My point was that I am not trying to see the worst in these comments; in fact I am searching for the "niceness" that you and other PPs on this thread see in these comments. I simply don't see it.

ETA: The fact that I and others dislike these comments doesn't mean that you can't make them. Some people may really appreciate it; others won't. However, IMO no one has an obligation to thank someone for a "compliment" they find offensive or objectionable. If you make an unsolicited compliment and it's met with complete silence or an icy glare, that's part of the risk of making unsolicited comments about strangers. If you get such responses a lot, it might be time to rethink your complimenting habits.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Iris on October 08, 2012, 02:18:27 AM
So now it's wrong to give someone a compliment?  Guess we're supposed to go through life and not make a single sound to anyone. No wonder so many people feel lonely and disconnected from others.

I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

To be safe I'll do the same thing from now on.
Apparently I should be doing the same.

Why do people in these threads always say "Oh, parents don't like interferance/passive-aggressive behaviour/condecension? I guess I just should talk to them EVER then". When the exact same behaviour comes from a mother-in-law, co-worker, or boyfriend we don't tend to blame the victim. How about we try to be nicer to everyone?

How is "You're doing an excellent job at parenting" condescending, PA, or interfering? It's a compliment. A simple compliment. It's a serious stretch or rather, a deliberate twist of meaning (that reveals more about the recipient's world view than the intent of the speaker) to view that as anything other than a simple compliment.

What does the compliment "You are doing an excellent job at parenting" have to do with anything? This thread is about a specific remark - "You are doing the correct thing". I genuinely don't understand how so many people have gone from "I think saying 'You are doing the correct thing' is patronising" to "Don't ever compliment me on my parenting, ever." I feel as though there are two parallel threads that have somehow been mixed up.

I *often* compliment people on their parenting but I have never ever once worded it as "You are doing the correct thing." Similarly I can't imagine saying "That is the correct outfit" or "You have the correct haircut" or "You changed that tyre correctly" or "You performed that [work task] correctly". All of those IMO would be patronising ways to phrase a compliment and only suitable if you were training the person in outfits/haircuts/tyre changing/work task and hence it was your role to grade their performance. It's absolutely fine to disagree with me on that as many obviously do, but I don't think its reasonable to go from that to "Well obviously people with haircuts are too sensitive and I'll never compliment anyone on their haircut ever again" simply because I express a dislike of that form of words.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: AngelBarchild on October 08, 2012, 03:51:37 AM
So now it's wrong to give someone a compliment?  Guess we're supposed to go through life and not make a single sound to anyone. No wonder so many people feel lonely and disconnected from others.

I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

To be safe I'll do the same thing from now on.
Apparently I should be doing the same.

Why do people in these threads always say "Oh, parents don't like interferance/passive-aggressive behaviour/condecension? I guess I just should talk to them EVER then". When the exact same behaviour comes from a mother-in-law, co-worker, or boyfriend we don't tend to blame the victim. How about we try to be nicer to everyone?

How is "You're doing an excellent job at parenting" condescending, PA, or interfering? It's a compliment. A simple compliment. It's a serious stretch or rather, a deliberate twist of meaning (that reveals more about the recipient's world view than the intent of the speaker) to view that as anything other than a simple compliment.

What does the compliment "You are doing an excellent job at parenting" have to do with anything? This thread is about a specific remark - "You are doing the correct thing". I genuinely don't understand how so many people have gone from "I think saying 'You are doing the correct thing' is patronising" to "Don't ever compliment me on my parenting, ever." I feel as though there are two parallel threads that have somehow been mixed up.

I *often* compliment people on their parenting but I have never ever once worded it as "You are doing the correct thing." Similarly I can't imagine saying "That is the correct outfit" or "You have the correct haircut" or "You changed that tyre correctly" or "You performed that [work task] correctly". All of those IMO would be patronising ways to phrase a compliment and only suitable if you were training the person in outfits/haircuts/tyre changing/work task and hence it was your role to grade their performance. It's absolutely fine to disagree with me on that as many obviously do, but I don't think its reasonable to go from that to "Well obviously people with haircuts are too sensitive and I'll never compliment anyone on their haircut ever again" simply because I express a dislike of that form of words.

It's because the op made the statement " I think it's pretty rude to comment on parenting, even if it's positive.  Am I being hyper-sensitive? " That is basically, don't compliment me on my parenting ever.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Iris on October 08, 2012, 04:56:02 AM
So now it's wrong to give someone a compliment?  Guess we're supposed to go through life and not make a single sound to anyone. No wonder so many people feel lonely and disconnected from others.

I have found it safest to simply not speak to parents and children I do not know.  Parents are far too over sensitive these days and anything I say or do will do snapped at or blown all out of proportion. 

This thread further proves that I am doing the smart thing.

To be safe I'll do the same thing from now on.
Apparently I should be doing the same.

Why do people in these threads always say "Oh, parents don't like interferance/passive-aggressive behaviour/condecension? I guess I just should talk to them EVER then". When the exact same behaviour comes from a mother-in-law, co-worker, or boyfriend we don't tend to blame the victim. How about we try to be nicer to everyone?

How is "You're doing an excellent job at parenting" condescending, PA, or interfering? It's a compliment. A simple compliment. It's a serious stretch or rather, a deliberate twist of meaning (that reveals more about the recipient's world view than the intent of the speaker) to view that as anything other than a simple compliment.

What does the compliment "You are doing an excellent job at parenting" have to do with anything? This thread is about a specific remark - "You are doing the correct thing". I genuinely don't understand how so many people have gone from "I think saying 'You are doing the correct thing' is patronising" to "Don't ever compliment me on my parenting, ever." I feel as though there are two parallel threads that have somehow been mixed up.

I *often* compliment people on their parenting but I have never ever once worded it as "You are doing the correct thing." Similarly I can't imagine saying "That is the correct outfit" or "You have the correct haircut" or "You changed that tyre correctly" or "You performed that [work task] correctly". All of those IMO would be patronising ways to phrase a compliment and only suitable if you were training the person in outfits/haircuts/tyre changing/work task and hence it was your role to grade their performance. It's absolutely fine to disagree with me on that as many obviously do, but I don't think its reasonable to go from that to "Well obviously people with haircuts are too sensitive and I'll never compliment anyone on their haircut ever again" simply because I express a dislike of that form of words.

It's because the op made the statement " I think it's pretty rude to comment on parenting, even if it's positive.  Am I being hyper-sensitive? " That is basically, don't compliment me on my parenting ever.

Ah, I see. I AM reading two parallel threads :) I suspect most people who are disagreeing are focusing on two different things just like we were.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: bonyk on October 08, 2012, 07:12:02 AM
It's because the op made the statement " I think it's pretty rude to comment on parenting, even if it's positive.  Am I being hyper-sensitive? " That is basically, don't compliment me on my parenting ever.

You know what, I did say this, and it was a very poor choice of words on my part.  I honestly didn't realize I'd said it until several posters quoted me saying it, and even then I was surprised to see it in my OP.  Sorry, everybody.   :-[

Let me clarify:  I think it's rude to make a comment judging if someone else's parenting is proper or improper, even if you believe it's proper.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: TootsNYC on October 08, 2012, 11:19:14 AM
One of the OP (boynk)'s examples:

Quote
...The mom next to me turned to me and said, "You're handling this correctly!  That's the way to do it!"   I know she meant well, but I was irked....

I think she didn't mean well; I think she WAS thinking of herself as "the expert" and you as "the novice." Oh, yeah, she wanted to encourage you, but I think her desire to establish herself was asserting itself. Not the most evil thing, but definitely more self-centered than you-centered.

In *that* instance, I'd vote for a not-really-irritated "Yes, I know."

(And I actually do think it's not that polite for a stranger to comment on parenting--it's just sort of buttinski. I'll admit that I do it sometimes, and I mean well, but it's still putting myself into the position of commenting on someone else's life. And yes, judging them, as though I'm an audience they care about. It's much more so when it's parenting and not clothes, for example.)

(Miss Manners doesn't actually approve of compliments on clothing from strangers, though. "They didn't get dressed in order to please you," I think was her point. It's made me much less likely to randomly praise people.)

Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Giggity on October 08, 2012, 11:31:34 AM
I don't want to be judged by people, even if they've decided that I 'pass'.

Everyone judges everyone else, all the time. There's nothing wrong with judging. In most situations, it's called "discernment" and it's how we make decisions.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: Judah on October 08, 2012, 11:37:42 AM
I don't want to be judged by people, even if they've decided that I 'pass'.

Everyone judges everyone else, all the time. There's nothing wrong with judging. In most situations, it's called "discernment" and it's how we make decisions.

But we're supposed to keep our judgement to ourselves.

Fwiw, i see a world of difference between complimenting someone on their well behaved child and telling them that they are parenting "correctly".  For one thing, there is no one "correct" way to parent.  We all do our best to parent the way each individual child needs and it's not up to a stranger to determine if it's right or wrong. And it is very patronizing to tell a stranger that what they are doing meets your approval. Why would they even care if their parenting meets the approval of a stranger?
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: turnip on October 08, 2012, 12:52:59 PM
I think we can all agree that statements like "You are so much better than those other Xs" are always going to be problematic, however you fill in the X.   ( Perhaps an exception can be made for something like prison populations - "Geez Bob, you are so nice for an arsonist!" - but let's exclude those. )

My feelings about someone complementing my parenting is to wonder if they've really gotten an idea of it.  If I'm out and my children are being charming and well-behaved generally acting like little rays of sunshine and someone says "You are doing a great job parenting!" - well, I'll accept it graciously because that's what I believe is appropriate, but really they haven't seen me parenting.  Hanging out with my kids when they are _good_ isn't parenting, it's a treat!

Now if DS is having a meltdown and DD is crying because he's scaring her and someone's diaper is leaking and I'm desperately trying to keep it all together - if _then_ someone came up and said "Hey, you're doing a great job" - I'd probably cry tears of real gratitude.  This is when I'm _parenting_, and this is when I am doing it as best as I can.   Of course, the reality is that this is when people are most likely to glare at me sideways while muttering to their companion "Geez, she needs to keep those kids under control."   

So you can complement me all you want, but really if you've decided that you can tell that I'm a good parent on Monday because my kids are behaving well, then I suspect you'll decide that you can tell that I'm a bad parent on Tuesday when they are just the opposite.
Title: Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
Post by: TootsNYC on October 08, 2012, 01:50:04 PM
Actually, Onyx, that's exactly when I'm most likely to say something to another parent--Maybe not a compliment, but a friendly comment, or a smile directly at you. Or a friendly comment to your child. Something to let the parent know that someone walking past her/him during the meltdown has a friendly thought and warm wishes.