Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Good Intentions or Foot in Mouth Disease???

We've all been there. You're at a party, or a gathering where there are multiple conversations taking place at once. You can't help but overhear some of the other people, either by close proximity or the overall noise level.

All of a sudden, you hear something from another conversation that makes your jaw drop towards your knees. You stop, sometimes even asking the person you're talking to, to be quiet for a minute. You can't believe what you just heard. Did that person really just say that?

The following are real-life jaw-droppers heard recently:

  1. "I would never let MY child get that dirty in public. What an embarrassment!"--conversation between two women, overheard at a public park where some kids had discovered that dirt & a water feature could make some really nice mud.
  2. "My children don't like you"--overheard at a restaurant, said by one half of a "couple" who obviously were on a first, and most likely, last date.
  3. "If you were a better mother, you wouldn't let your children run wild in the store"--comment by an observer to a haggard mother of three very active little ones.
Do these people truly think they're being helpful, or is there a huge disconnect between their brain and their mouths?

And I guess the real question is: As observers (not actively involved in the conversation), do we have any responsibility, or do we mind our own business (and blog about it later!)?

To go one step further, what if you are involved in the conversation? What is an appropriate response? Do you mumble something, and walk away? Or do you use it as a teaching moment?

Would love to hear your thoughts,


Christine said...

I've been on the receiving end of some very insensitive comments. It hurts. It defeats. It does nothing of value but destroy the one it is spoken to. My constant prayer, as a mother who has been there...and am slowly leaving some of those embarrassing moments behind....I pray that I WILL NOT FORGET.

That is where I think that many of those insensitive comments come from. People have forgotten. They forget that children have a mind of their own. They have forgotten that children don't mind the dirt....they are focused on the thrill of discovery (thinking mud here.) They have forgotten that there are days when all a mama can do is to keep herself standing upright and from melting away because she is exhausted beyond comprehension. They have forgotten that there is NO WAY they can know the full story of another person. I pray that I will not forget and that I will be able to show compassion to a mama who is there, in the midst of it, right then.

Our world has forgotten about that wonderful word called GRACE.

(now stepping off my soapbox) :-)

Melinda said...

I use my lack of hearing to my advantage and feign not having noticed the comment. If the comment was not directed at me, but I saw it said, my favorite response is to avoid eye contact and make a comment loud enough to contradict what was just said, with my hearing aids in full view. About the rude commenter about the children playing in the mud, I would say (obliviously) to a person near by, "Wow. Those kids are having such fun! Do you remember what fun it was to be able to get down in the mud and just have fun like that?!"

Children and parents don't need grace for such behavior, they need applauding!

Stephanie said...

It seems like the opinion of "children should be seen and not heard" still is felt by some people. I admit I do enjoy seeing kids "well behaved" in public, but at the same time, I also enjoy kids just being kids, playing in the mud, sqealing and having a blast! I agree with Melinda... yeah to those parents who embrace childhood!