Author Topic: Should my daughter have "humored" him?  (Read 12235 times)

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weeblewobble

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Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« on: January 06, 2013, 01:35:32 PM »
Our DD is a lovely, bright 8 year old, who is not at all shy.  When we're at church, she has conversations with just about any adult that approaches us.  She can take and dish out a fair amount of teasing.  She is not a kid who "wilts" when provoked.

Today at church, "Gary," a man in his fifties whom we know casually, came up to DD, put his finger near her neckline (I hesitate to say chest because he was no where near an inappropriate area.) and said, "You've got something on your dress."  She, of course, looked down and when she did, he tweaked her nose. Typical older guy joke on kids.  I don't believe there was any ill-intent. 

Only DD didn't laugh.  She looked up at him with a completely blank expression and just stared at him.  This lack of reaction seemed to make Gary uncomfortable and he sort of huffed, "Well, you could at least smile."

DD, in a very cool, but civil, tone said, "I didn't think it was funny."

Gary made a comment about DD not being in a very good mood. He looked to DH and I, apparently expecting some response on our part. DH bean-dipped, bringing up some item of church business. I gave DD a squeeze and told her to go on to her children's program.

A few minutes later, when Gary was elsewhere, DH said he was, "this" close to apologizing on DD's behalf because he felt that Gary was embarrassed by DD's reaction.  But he decided not to, since DD handled the situation fairly politely.

I said that I was glad he didn't for two reasons.

1) Gary got in DD's personal space bubble.  DD is enrolled in martial arts classes, a strong component of which is being aware/protective of your personal space bubble.  The instructor has told the students over and over that they have the right to decide who gets in their bubble and how to protect that space.  Contradicting that to make Gary more comfortable seems counter-intuitive and sets a bad precedent.

2) I don't think kids should be taught to "humor" people who criticize their emotional responses to teasing/conversation/requests. If you're not amused or comfortable, you shouldn't have to pretend you are to protect some else's feelings or ego.  ETA: I put this right up there with men who tell strange women on the street to 'SMILE!' if their expression isn't cheerful enough.  It's not up to those women to be more decorative or happy in order to make the man more comfortable.

Later, before we left, Gary was near us again, and tried to do "Got your nose!" on DD.  But this time she saw him coming and did an impressive duck-sidestep-step-around evasive maneuver that only proved that the money we're spending on martial arts is paying off. :)

Gary "gave up" and left DD alone. Later,  DD said she wasn't upset, she just didn't want her nose pinched.  I told DD that she handled it just fine, and that Gary may tease her more now that he feels like making DD laugh is challenge. I told her to come to me or DH if he ever makes her uncomfortable.  DD said it was fine and if he was funny, she would laugh.  But she wouldn't fake it.

I'm pretty sure we're safe, etiquette-wise, but I always like to double-check here.  So my questions are:

1) Were DH and I right in choosing not to apologize for DD's lack of response to Gary's jokes?

2) Is our current course of action - letting DD choose how to respond to the jokes - appropriate?
« Last Edit: January 06, 2013, 01:40:32 PM by weeblewobble »

Alpacas

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2013, 01:39:13 PM »
I think you and DH as well as DD are in the clear.

MorgnsGrl

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2013, 01:40:56 PM »
I vote yes on both counts. I also think that checking in with your DD after her next encounter with him would be a good idea -- I think it would be okay for her to tell him that she doesn't like being teased and that he should stop, please, OR for her to give you permission to tell him that as her parents.

Yvaine

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2013, 01:41:48 PM »
Ugh, I hate these sorts of "jokes." It's not even necessarily a "danger" issue, it's just annoying as all heck. I had a friend for a while who, with both of us being adults over thirty, would frequently grab my lips and make them mouth words. It was supposedly from some movie, though I had no idea what. I used to just not-laugh and sort of move my face away when she did this. Finally I had a non-ehell-approved blowup where I just went, "What are you doing and why is it funny and why do you keep doing it?" Your daughter handled it better than I did at thirty.

weeblewobble

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2013, 01:43:08 PM »
I vote yes on both counts. I also think that checking in with your DD after her next encounter with him would be a good idea -- I think it would be okay for her to tell him that she doesn't like being teased and that he should stop, please, OR for her to give you permission to tell him that as her parents.

That's an interesting point.  Part of the reason I am sort of sitting back on this is that I want DD to learn how to handle these situations on her own. But at the same time, I don't want to make her feel like I don't care or that she's left alone to deal with it. It's a delicate balance.

snowdragon

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2013, 01:44:58 PM »
Gary should be told not to touch her again. She may not have a problem with teasing in general - but that form of teasing is not what she likes - he needs to know never to repeat it and not to minimize her feelings with comments like "you must be in a bad mood" sorry but she has the right to limit what kinds of "teasing" she will tolerate.

Sharnita

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2013, 01:51:50 PM »
I like the way she handled it because to me the primary thing is that his joke didn't strike her as all that funny and she was not obligated to fake it.

Snowy Owl

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2013, 01:57:12 PM »

I think your daughter handled it in a very mature way.  Obviously you've got a smart cookie there  :)

I certainly don't think it's necessary to tolerate people touching you in a way that makes you uncomfortable.  If your daughter doesn't like having her nose tweaked, there's no reason she should be compelled to tolerate it. 

I'd agree with Yvaine it's not a danger issue, it's just incredibly annoying.  I'd hate it too. 
And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.

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oopsie

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2013, 01:58:29 PM »
Yes and yes. DD was perfectly acceptable in her response to the joke and there was no need for you or your DH to apologize for her reaction.

Having someone not laugh is the chance we all take when making a joke. If you can't handle the heat, get out of the fire.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2013, 01:58:38 PM »
Of course you were correct to not force your daughter to allow unwanted touching. Perhaps you or your husband should tell Gary to keep  his hands to himself.

Yvaine

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2013, 02:00:27 PM »
Having someone not laugh is the chance we all take when making a joke. If you can't handle the heat, get out of the fire.

This is the crux, isn't it? Sometimes a joke just falls flat. Nobody is entitled to have people fake hysterics to spare their feelings.

weeblewobble

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2013, 02:02:58 PM »
Having someone not laugh is the chance we all take when making a joke. If you can't handle the heat, get out of the fire.

This is the crux, isn't it? Sometimes a joke just falls flat. Nobody is entitled to have people fake hysterics to spare their feelings.

Thank you both for finding the kernel of the issue I couldn't seem to suss out.  :)

HoneyBee42

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2013, 02:05:49 PM »
I agree w/ previous posters.  It is fine (actually more than that, it is the definite *right* course as opposed to simply "ok course of action") to not apologize that Gary's jokes weren't appreciated.  Gary was in the wrong and should not have attempted a second "joke".  And actually, the OP's daughter didn't have a *lack* of response, she just had a response other than one that soothes Gary's ego.  Apologizing that she didn't laugh/enjoy Gary's behavior would have been definitely *WRONG* for the very reasons that the OP noted.

I think it is fine to continue to let the child determine response as long as it's also clear that she can use either parent as backup.  If she's going on her own, I'd also prep her with some polite responses to the "you must be in a bad mood" type responses (asserting that she is not in a bad mood but that he was out of line). 

The initial 'teasing' might have been with no ill-intent but Gary should never have made a second attempt (much less on the same day!).  If Gary felt uncomfortable--well he *SHOULD* ... he was totally out of line and he should have apologized to the OP's daughter when she told him that she didn't find it funny.


Yvaine

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2013, 02:06:12 PM »
Having someone not laugh is the chance we all take when making a joke. If you can't handle the heat, get out of the fire.

This is the crux, isn't it? Sometimes a joke just falls flat. Nobody is entitled to have people fake hysterics to spare their feelings.

Thank you both for finding the kernel of the issue I couldn't seem to suss out.  :)

It's that, plus people are also not entitled to just randomly touch people they don't know very well and have it go over well, barring really good reasons like pushing them out of the way of a speeding bus.

cicero

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Re: Should my daughter have "humored" him?
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2013, 02:08:22 PM »
good for your DD, good for you, good for your DH.

I was mercilessly teased, cheeks pinched,  forced to be "nice" as a child - i never knew how to stop and say "no, this isn't right", "no, this is making me uncomfortable". i never had the guts to say "stop" and it caused me a lot of grief.

You are raising a smart confident young woman - good for her. She should be respectiful to others (which she was) but she doesn't have to be nice to someone who is making her uncomfortable.


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