Author Topic: I do not accept your endorsement!  (Read 9720 times)

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bonyk

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I do not accept your endorsement!
« on: October 06, 2012, 08:18:22 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?

Zilla

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2012, 09:05:16 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.








SleepyKitty

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2012, 10:07:38 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?"

Sharnita

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2012, 10:23:29 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.

artk2002

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2012, 10:25:23 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.
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Acadianna

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2012, 11:55:13 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.

AnnaJ

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2012, 12:03:00 PM »
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.

GreenEyedHawk

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2012, 12:06:57 PM »
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.
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Two Ravens

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2012, 12:09:10 PM »
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

jmarvellous

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2012, 12:13:19 PM »
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."

Two Ravens

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2012, 12:23:56 PM »
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!

bonyk

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2012, 12:45:19 PM »
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? 

Sharnita

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2012, 12:48:13 PM »
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.

Amava

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2012, 12:55:18 PM »
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?

Onyx_TKD

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Re: I do not accept your endorsement!
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2012, 01:24:17 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."