I was recently told a story where a 3rd grader had proudly dressed herself for a family function. She had on very “loud” pants but loved them. Her adult cousin (and a mom to boot) told her, “I think your pants are ugly.” The 3rd grader wisely responded, “Thank you, that means so much.”
I want to first discuss the 3rd graders response. She could have become upset and yelled. She could have cried. She could have acted out. Instead, she chose to take the high road. I hope her parents were proud of her. She responded with class and I believe gave the other person a chance to reflect on what they said. Had the 3rd grader yelled and cried, the focus would have been on her and her behavior. By remaining respectful, the focus could be on the person who did wrong, in this case, the adult.
The adult in the story confuses me. Why did she think her actions were warranted or appropriate? I’ve written in past blogs about it being okay to correct other people’s kids behaviors but that it not what this lady did. Not only was she being rude in how she conveyed her dislike of the pants, her opinion was not asked.
As adults, our words carry a lot of weight. We need to ask ourselves if our words are helpful or harmful. Even if the 3rd grader had asked if the adult liked her pants, saying they are ugly is not appropriate. The adult could say “I would not pick them out but do you like them?” or “They are not my style.” Unless the clothing was inappropriate for the setting (think mini skirt in church), then the adult is not being helpful. In fact, in this case she may have caused harm as the 3rd grader has not worn the pants since this incident.
How would you have handled the situation?
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!