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April 18, 2011 / MrsH

If you can’t say something nice…

… then don’t say anything at all.”  I’m trying to teach Missy about this concept.  I used to hate it, seeing it as yet another way to make women and girls just shut up and lose our voices.  But, well, there’s a point there.  These incidents all happened in the same 24 hour period:

  • I’d tried a new-ish recipe for breakfast: baked cinnamon oatmeal with berries.  Seriously good, and good for you.  Except not to Missy, apparently.  She volunteered: “this is… OK.  Not really so good, but it’s not too bad, so… OK.”  Thanks kid.
  • The cover of my datebook is falling apart, and after much internal anguish, I decided to cover the whole thing with duct tape and have an ugly datebook, rather than spend money and buy a new one.  Less than a second after I’d started, Missy started looking on.  “What are you doing?  Why are you using that? [note the disgusted look on her face].  Why are you covering up all the pretty stuff?  This isn’t coming out very well, mommy.”  “Sweetheart, if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all.”  “Oh, well… hm… I don’t… I mean, uhm.  Good job mommy, but that piece is a little crooked”  I couldn’t stand the critique, so left.
  • “Mommy, I thought you were going to wear something pretty?”  “What?”  “Well, I thought you’d wear something… nice today.  Not that.”

I’m not sure where she got this critical voice, I think it’s fairly new, and I pray I’m not the one she’s emulating here.



Leave a Comment
  1. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ / Apr 18 2011 3:25 pm

    Thank you for this. It’s interesting to hear another parent struggling with this, too. I find my own issues arise when I hear my kids stating opinions about things in ways that I emotionally react to as negative.

    I’ve been trying to curb my initial reaction by redirecting myself (just like a toddler, ha!), then I try to encourage them to say what they feel with “I” statements instead of “You” observations. Wherever they’re getting the modeling from, I don’t want to encourage that. And, like you, I’ll walk away if my feelings get too strong.

    In the moment, I just can’t get to a comfortable place when someone is using “you” judgments, even when it is my beloved child.

  2. Naomi Paisley-Flango / Apr 19 2011 1:40 pm

    I didn’t realize just how often I was getting angry and just how much the boys were noticing until recently. My 2 1/2 yo has taken to shaking his finger and yelling back at me when I reprimand him. I guess I do some version of that. I’m trying to give myself time-outs instead. Then go back to the issue at hand. Unless they are injuring themselves or others a correction can usually wait until I walk out of the room for the count of ten.

    • MrsH / Apr 21 2011 11:42 pm

      I usually say “I’m so angry. I’m SO angry! I’M so ANGRY!” Buddy says the same thing now too, sometimes. But at least it keeps me from saying mean things that I would later regret. I like the time-out idea, and have been known to do it, but they often all get up in my face during that – the bathroom door locks so sometimes that helps!

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