On Politeness

Monday, March 10, 2008
Teaching a three year old about being polite, while encouraging an observant and honest nature is a new challenge I've recently been faced with as a parent. A few days ago, Samuel said quite loudly when a blind woman walked by, "Mommy, why is that lady walking with a stick?" Today, while enjoying bagels and beverages on the sidewalk in front of a coffee shop, a woman who was quite large walked by. I don't think she heard Samuel ask, "Mommy, why is that lady so BIG . . . thoughtful pause followed by . . . and STRONG?" I found myself saying, "Samuel, we don't make comments about other people in front of them, but if you want to, you can ask me about it later." A few moments later, a woman in her early twenties sat down at the table next to us on the sidewalk and lit up a cigarette. With a three month old and a three year old (not to mention myself) sitting just a few feet away, and the wind blowing in our direction, I, perhaps impolitely, announced out loud, "Samuel, we have to go now, because that lady is smoking." After we were in the car driving home, I thought to myself how I sometimes find myself failing to follow the same principles I'm trying to teach Samuel. As parents, we lead by example. That is a little frightening to me, but a goal I intend to strive for. Having said that, I hope that woman thinks twice before lighting up a cigarette next to small children in the future!

Happy three months, Juniper!


Jeremy said...

I had a moment this morning at the doctor's office that was so similar. I ended up apologizing to the receptionist because I realized how I must have sounded to her...and Ian! Eek!

Live and learn. (Hopefully!)

Jeremy said...

Oh and really. Smoking next to young children? I thought that was an obvious no-no. I hope she got the hint too!

Momma Val said...

It too depends on who was there first. In this instance, you were in the right. Sadly she could have probably cared less. Many 20 something smokers don't care. I wonder if the smoking law allows smoking on an eating establishments patio? Hmmm? I used to smoke way back in my college days and thought it bizarre when moms & children would come and sit by me (outside or in smoking sections) when I was smoking away then give me dirty looks and the kids would plug their noses. Now I am on the other side of the fence. My neighbors deck is close to my sons bedroom window. Often in the summer there are as many as 10 teenage boys smoking and all the smoke is blowing right in babys open window. Did I mention I am looking forward to moving?

Sarah@mommyinjapan said...

As far as kids being rude vs. honest, I think the most important thing to help make sure that other people aren't offended is your reaction to it. If your son says someone's fat and you don't say anything then that person could get offended but if you speak up right away and say that he shouldn't say that (or whatever you say) then at least the other person knows that you are concerned about their feelings.

Another thing I have a hard time with is when my kids are just not behaving, especially when it's an area that we are currently working on. It's just so embaressing, especially if my kids refused to do something as simple as say please or thank you, nevermind a full-blown temper tantrum. It was hard to know how to apologize for it without my child thinking they got away with it. I finally hit upon the phrase "Sorry, we're still working on this". That way I could apologize for my child's awful behavior but my child still knew that it wasn't OK.

This phrase can help in a lot of situations. If someone got offended with Samuel's remarks, you could just say it to smooth the situation over.

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