General Etiquette > Family and Children

Conversational responsibility...

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I was waiting for a group meeting to start, milling about with the other attendees.  We all kind of sort of know each other and engage in chit chat before the meeting. 

I mentioned that I bought something at Small Pricey Grocery Store. One of my acquaintances looked at me a bit sideways and said, “I never go there… I wouldn’t know.  It’s so expensive.”

My husband and I are frequently questioned about our reasons to shop there and I responded truthfully, but lightly, “We shop there because there are never any kids at this store.  No meltdowns in the candy aisle.  Haha, tantrums are the worst, amiright?” 

All of the other women in the room were parents (I’m not), so I was really hoping that I didn’t rub anyone the wrong way, but I immediately regretted answering the way I did.  Even though my initial feeling was that no one enjoys a temper tantrum, so it was a safe thing to mention.

My acquaintance launched into a description of a meltdown she saw the other day in Large Discount Grocery Store and what her internal reaction was.  She wanted to tell the parents to take the kid out of the store.  Her story telling tone was harsh and judgemental.  Her kids are adolescent and I got the feeling that she had been waiting for a chance to pontificate On Parents Today.

Another woman piped up, “I would have been furious with you if you had said that to me.”

Acquaintance says, “The parents weren’t addressing the situation properly and they had to do something.”

Tension levels went WAY up and I felt pretty gross for starting the subject.  Conversations do have a life of their own, but parenting discussions are such a minefield, I feel like I made a tactical error that lead to the entire group being uncomfortable.  I probably should have just said something bland like, “Oh, we like it. It’s a nice little store.”

Given the passionate viewpoints people have on parenting and discipline, I’m wondering if these are topics that shouldn’t be brought up in social situations, much like religion and politics? 

You're probably right at that.  You can see how many different styles and opinions are right here.   I think the reply you came up with later (it's always later) was a good one. 

I've shopped in the same store (I think) and usually say to the same comment:  "Once in a while, for a special treat.  And I like the soaps".

Yeah, I don't have kids either, but I can see myself saying something along those lines, and then thinking, carp, i should have said something else.  I don't think you were rude though. Not everyone is going to agree with everyone else. And you couldn't help that someone else started in on the same subject....

I think you had an error in tactics there. I wouldn't have said that in a roomful of parents. You weren't rude, per se, but it's the sort of thing parents could take offense to, or that childfree people could take and run with - which happened. I'd just have said something like, "Well, they have a particular Thing I like, so we indulge occasionally."

I agree with you, that was an error on your part.

However, you aren't responsible for the rudeness and ill judgment the OTHER woman displayed, so don't take too much responsibility onto yourself.

And I want to encourage you to *never* feel that you  must justify why you go to small pricey grocery store. When people say "I wouldn't know, I never go there, it's too expensive," just say, "Oh!" brightly.

And stop. Bite your tongue, literally (like, with your teeth, but gently) if you have to. Don't say another word. Then after about two beats, continue on with the ORIGINAL topic, which was the thing that you bought, so say, "it's really delicious," or "we enjoyed it with lentils."

(also, you might think about why you do mention that grocery store, given that you get quizzed about it--are you trying to make a statement? You *can* just leave it out of your original statement: "I bought something at Small Pricey Grocery Store."


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