Author Topic: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?  (Read 7767 times)

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Hollanda

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"But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« on: November 08, 2012, 07:15:14 AM »
I am not sure whether I am going to be able to put myself across well enough to be understood here, but I will try.  The job I do is very distressing quite often.  Without putting too fine a point on it, the nature of my job involves me discovering the very worst that can happen iwhen children and young babies develop certain, common and so-called "harmless" illnesses.  These complications are said to be rare, and it must be stressed that my job really does deal with the very worst cases, which always end in child death.  It is still enough to make one worry about the health of one's own child, particularly when said child develops one of these "harmless" illnesses.
 
Now as you know, DS has chicken pox. It sounds very run-of-the-mill, he's been quite ill with it over the past week or so, but he is now on the mend. He has a few more spots coming and it will take him a few days to fully recover.  I am not asking for medical advice, so please bear with me.
 
The point of this post is, when people ask me how DS is, my answer is "He's OK in himself, just a few more spots..." and then change the subject.  Two or three people have (no exaggeration) scoffed when I've said that and said "Oh it's only chicken pox".  The people who do this, I notice, have no kids of their own.  Those who do have kids have said "It is scary when they're ill, their temperature goes up so quickly, I've been there myself! Just keep doing what you're doing and keep an eye on him" kind of thing.  Us Mums do tend to become quite the support network on FB whenever any of our kids gets ill (which at the moment seems constant in one way or another!).  How do I politely get across the fact that I am not needlessly fretting over him (I am realistic enough to know the signs of complications developing and I have never, ever mentioned that (for fear of sounding paranoid!) There has been a spate recently of people posting on FB " Another stomach upset" or "DD is ill AGAIN so no sleep!" and we all support each other, so there is no baby-jacking here.
 
I need an eHell approved response if there is one.  It's beginning to annoy me.  I simply smile, bean dip and make an excuse to get far away from that person.  On one level I know I am worrying about nothing, I know DS is fine, I know he will no doubt get over this and a gazillion other illnesses and injuries before he's 4.  I don't need to be told that the part of my brain that pipes up with "But it could turn into x, y or z" is the irrational part, awoken by whatever horrid report I have just had to type up.  :-X  The rest of the time, I don't think about that sort of thing (if I thought about it all the time I would drive myself insane!).
 
 
Knowledge is knowing tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.


LeveeWoman

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2012, 07:25:09 AM »
I'd answer that he's doing fine and I'd ignore those who scoff.

Girly

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2012, 07:27:16 AM »
I guess I would say something like 'Yeah, I hope he gets better soon' and let it go.

Reason being.... my son is two. My life, and perception on child-related things were so absolutely different before we had him that there's just no explaining some things. You say everyone that is 'dismissive' is child-free, and you in all honesty won't be able to explain how it's just .... different when it comes to your own child.

Saying anything else (about how it can turn for the worse, etc.) would really just sound preachy to me, to be honest.

cicero

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2012, 07:27:49 AM »
I think that your background plays a major role in what you are feeling. I don't think that someone (who doesn't have children themselves) saying "it's only chicken pox" is necessarily rude or dismissive or not understanding the complications. because let's face it - even those of us who are parents and who went thru chicken pox and mumps and flu with their chidren - don't jump to "oh gosh there are so many possible complications to so-called 'harmless' illnesses". yes, there *are* possible complications, and yes it's really hard to see our little ones with fever that won't budge, or feeling listless or in pain. but i think that most parents think "ok, it'll be a few rough nights and junior will bounce back". but when you are *in the know* or have a bad experience, that will necessarily color your reaction.

look - on a totally different tack. i was diagnosed with cancer about 14 years ago. to this day, if someone tells me they have pain of a certain kind, or problems with their cycle, i tend to go over-hysterical about them seeing their doctor *now* and doing *these tests*. I've gotten better as years go by, but at the time it was a natural and immediate reaction. these life experiences certainly change our outlook.

I don't think anything other than bean dip, or saying "yes, we are lucky our health care system is so wonderful" is warranted here.

I do think that maybe your job should offer you guys some kind of support in this regard.


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MorgnsGrl

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2012, 07:45:13 AM »
Maybe you could try something, "I know, most kids get over X without any complications, but I'm a mom, I worry!" It sounds like the people saying, "It's only X" are EITHER trying to reassure you (and might be a bit clumsy at it, but have good intentions) OR are scoffing because they think you're worrying needlessly, in which case they might not be very nice people. In the case of those you think aren't very nice, is there a way to just block them from commenting and/or seeing your posts? You aren't likely to convince not-nice people to become nice people over FB.

Zilla

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2012, 09:00:09 AM »
Well first off, I would stop telling childless people about your son.  You have posted many times about people that dont' have children give you grief. 
 
Second, you mention that you deal with the worst cases at a medical type place and your coworkers work in the same place exposed to the same data.  Some are probably jaded as well and think well at least it's ONLY the chicken pox.  I know you say that you aren't making a big deal and only saying 2 or 3 words, but it appears your distress is coming across and maybe they are reacting to that. 
 
Thirdly, if you must tell them about your son, or they find out somehow by others that your son is sick and inquire after him and then scoff.  Just walk away.  No response is needed.  Don't react.
 
ETA- I just realized something, are you facebook friends with these scoffing people?  If you are posting statuses on your son's issues, they might be reacting to those. (you mention Facebook in your OP) and think you are overreacting since you said you don't say anything at work.

Hmmmmm

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2012, 09:17:03 AM »
From your post
The point of this post is, when people ask me how DS is, my answer is "He's OK in himself, just a few more spots..." and then change the subject.  Two or three people have (no exaggeration) scoffed when I've said that and said "Oh it's only chicken pox". 

You have to remember that in the vast majority of the cases, it IS only chicken pox. 

Others will never develop the same sense of concern over your problems or issues that you have, whether it's about your child, your home, your car, your vacation, your job or anything.

Take for example you have a flat tire on your way to work.  You call in and tell someone you'll be late because of a flat and they reply "Thank goodness it's only a flat."  Well, while your sitting beside the road dealing with it, trying to reschedule your day because of meetings you'll miss, and worrying about the cost of a new tire it's NOT just a flat tire, it is major trauma to you.  But the co-worker is thinking "thank goodness it wasn't an accident or a major mechanical failure of your car."

Take their comments as a REMINDER that it is only in very few instances does it become more life threatening instead of being frustrated that they are not offering you more concern/sympathay/empathy/support or what ever it is that you feel they aren't offering.

ETA:  I realize my post might seem critical of you and I wasn't trying to be.  I'll use a personal experience.  About 10 years ago I developed Bell's Palsey... woke up fine one morning and within 2 hours had complete facial paralysis on my right side.  It completely freaked me out even after going to specialists and reading all the data and knowing that 90% plus get a full recovery in less than 6 weeks.  I was talking to my sister the next morning (to whom I am very close) and she remarked "at least it is temporary".  I wanted to come through the phone and ring her neck.  I did end up hanging up on her.  But while another sister would allow me to wallow in all the "what if" scenarios and get even more freaked out, sister one stayed fast the entire 5 weeks with the positive "it's temporary, it will get better, quit worrying" and having that became more helpfull over time. 
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 09:24:23 AM by Hmmmmm »

Elessarion

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2012, 09:17:55 AM »
Well first off, I would stop telling childless people about your son.  You have posted many times about people that dont' have children give you grief. 
 
Second, you mention that you deal with the worst cases at a medical type place and your coworkers work in the same place exposed to the same data.  Some are probably jaded as well and think well at least it's ONLY the chicken pox.  I know you say that you aren't making a big deal and only saying 2 or 3 words, but it appears your distress is coming across and maybe they are reacting to that. 
 
Thirdly, if you must tell them about your son, or they find out somehow by others that your son is sick and inquire after him and then scoff.  Just walk away.  No response is needed.  Don't react.
 
ETA- I just realized something, are you facebook friends with these scoffing people?  If you are posting statuses on your son's issues, they might be reacting to those. (you mention Facebook in your OP) and think you are overreacting since you said you don't say anything at work.

I agree with the bolded part of Zilla's post. Don't bring up your work as it could make you look more paranoid. You've said yourself in your OP that these complications are rare and the worst case scenarios so using work as a justification is really not going to help your case.

Zilla also makes a good point about Facebook. If, for example, you were posting multiple statuses about your DS and his illnesses and these people could see them, I can see why they might think you are overreacting. We had a similar situation with my cousin recently when her little girl was ill. In the space of an hour she had posted 5 seperate times about her DD being ill and giving blow by blow accounts of her DD eating a snack, drinking some milk and having a small meltdown due to being sick and in the next breath how much better she was after some sleep.

So in summary if they scoff or make a dismissive comment - just ignore it. Don't stress about what other people think about your parenting skills :p The only opinions that matter are yours and your DH's.

ETA Hmmmmm posted while I was and she also has a great perspective on the situation!

Amava

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2012, 09:30:26 AM »
The point of this post is, when people ask me how DS is, my answer is "He's OK in himself, just a few more spots..." and then change the subject.  Two or three people have (no exaggeration) scoffed when I've said that and said "Oh it's only chicken pox".

Weird people. If they don't want to hear about it and are going to be dismissive, why do they even ask about it?
I'm childfree. If I ask someone how their child is doing however, I'm not going to scoff dismissively at their answer. If I'm not in a mood to hear about children and their illnesses etc, I'm just not going to ask. I don't understand people who ask and then just scoff.  ???

And you say you just answer their question briefly and then change the subject, so it's not like you sit there going on for ever about how worried you are and about worst case scenarios, so I really don't understand their strange reaction.

Luci

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2012, 09:44:08 AM »
I think it would be perfectly fine in response to say something about how hard it is to see the poor kid feeling so miserable. That's where my mind always goes anyway.

I think you have a good solid reaction to the horrors you know about by realizing that the odds are very slim any particular child's chances of developing complications are so slim, yet maintaining empathy toward the annonymous victims.

jmarvellous

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2012, 09:49:48 AM »
You mention illness.
Person says slightly dismissive/likely intended to be reassuring thing.
You change the subject, just as you ought.
Case closed.

That's the scenario I'm getting from the OP, and I guess it has me wondering what you actually want to know or be helped with, as it seems you have everything but your own tendency to dwell on others' harmless comments under control.

I think it's time to remind yourself, as many of us must be reminded occasionally, to let it go. "Accept the things you cannot change," as the saying goes.

Also, consider a new line of work if this one brings you such anxiety in your non-work life. I know it's not an easy solution, but if you'll just keep panicking every time your son is ill because of your work, it may be the only answer.

GrammarNerd

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2012, 09:52:50 AM »
The point of this post is, when people ask me how DS is, my answer is "He's OK in himself, just a few more spots..." and then change the subject.  Two or three people have (no exaggeration) scoffed when I've said that and said "Oh it's only chicken pox".

Weird people. If they don't want to hear about it and are going to be dismissive, why do they even ask about it?
I'm childfree. If I ask someone how their child is doing however, I'm not going to scoff dismissively at their answer. If I'm not in a mood to hear about children and their illnesses etc, I'm just not going to ask. I don't understand people who ask and then just scoff.  ???

And you say you just answer their question briefly and then change the subject, so it's not like you sit there going on for ever about how worried you are and about worst case scenarios, so I really don't understand their strange reaction.

Yeah, that was my first reaction too.  Your answer doesn't seem overly dramatic or paranoid, so I don't get the scoffing at all.  After one or two of those reactions, I might start looking at the person with a questioning look on my face and say in a puzzled voice, "Wellllll, yes. But why did you ask how he's doing in the first place if you don't think it's that serious?"  Practice it a few times so you can come off as curious, not confrontational.  It's like someone being all curious about what your favorite color is, and then when you tell him, he argues with you about it. 

Because really, that sort of response to an answer that you (scoffing person) asked for is really uncalled for, regardless of your (OP's) knowledge of illness complications.  If you ask a question, then you don't scoff or berate someone for the answer they give.  Geez.

And I had chicken pox as an adult.  Not fun.  But thank goodness for the meds, which had JUST come on the market right before I got the pox.

Surianne

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2012, 10:12:08 AM »
I don't have advice for in-person situations (the other posters are handling that part well!) but on Facebook, have you thought about setting your permissions so that kid-related statuses go just to the group of supportive moms? 

gingerzing

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2012, 10:12:59 AM »
Gosh, I hope that my friends with kids don't decide that since I am childfree that I don't want to know how the kids are doing. 

Honestly, I don't know that when someone says "But it's just..." that they are being dismissive.   
Especially with a childhood disease, because the majority of the time it is not going to lead to those rare complications.  I guess that I would say that if I ever said something like that it is more like Hmmmmm's example of the flat tire.  The response of just chicken pox probably means something like at least you know that the kiddo is on the mend.

Perhaps because you do see the worse case scenario of when a common illness turns ugly, you are more aware of more serious outcomes.  So no illness or common childhood disease is "JUST". 

Is the scoff tone in person or is it just on Facebook or email?  The reason I ask is because I have been accused of having a "tone" in an email, where no tone was ever implied when I was writing.  Unless they are actually typing "Oh, well at least it is JUST chicken pox and not anything REALLY bad."  In that case, they are twits. 

Then again you may know the person writing better to know if they really are using a tone.

Zilla

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Re: "But it's only..." Dismissive comments - how to deal with?
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2012, 10:21:50 AM »
Gosh, I hope that my friends with kids don't decide that since I am childfree that I don't want to know how the kids are doing. 



I hope you didn't take my post to heart, I only mention it to the OP as the majority of her posts are childfree friends/coworkers of hers seem to have an issue with her son.  I was strictly thinking of her in her scenarios.  By all means if you are interested, ask away!  I would think that if you care, you would ask! :D