Parenting Tact.

I’m certainly far from a perfect parent, and I realize everyone learns on the go, but I may have found something specific to work on over the weekend.

The wife and I have always said from the time the first one was in the womb that we would strive to answer questions with real answers, no baby talk, and to not unnecessarily dumb things down.  Certainly some situations call for a simplified answer, but we feel no reason to squash an inquisitive nature with short answers.

You may know I can be a little sarcasic and opnionated.  You may know that two-and-a-half year olds are great with absorb > imitate > repeat.

So, it may have not been my best moment when I provided an answer to a perfectly innocent question that was probably tinged a little too heavily with personal opinion and social commentary.

We were sitting in unusually heavy traffic headed into the Liberty tubes when my daughter asked her 493rd question for the car ride; “What’s that… what’s that white thing hanging from that lady’s mouth?” (She’s got a pretty damn good vocabulary for a 2yo if I do say so myself.)

My answer was “That’s a cigarette, she’s white trash.”  Immidately I got the “Eric!” along with an arm smack from the wife.

I did follow it up with an “Oh, that’s not nice.  I’m sorry.  We shouldn’t call people things like that, but cigarettes are bad for you.  Daddy doesn’t like them.  People are silly for smoking, it makes them sick.”

I find it hard to temper my opinions on such things.  Look, smoking is fine if you’re an adult and make your own decisions and are curteous of where you choose to partake.  I just have my own reasons for not being a fan and I never once needed the “don’t smoke” presentations in elementary school or Jr. High health class.

I want both of my kids to eventually make their own informed decisions about things.  I get that it’s part of my deal to help inform them.  They’ll get my opinions over time, no doubt.  I don’t want my opinions to be forced on to them, or so strong that they get a case of “wow, dad’s an asshole.” 

I just need to pace myself.  Temper the quick observation and judgement.  I’m still learning.

4 thoughts on “Parenting Tact.

  1. I have the same policy about being open and as honest as possible. It’s easier since he’s 8, but when he was younger, I tried to keep it simple or use an analogy with something he’s familiar with. I tell him my opinion. I also tell him that it is an opinion. If it’s a culturally sensitive subject, I try to provide alternate points of view. I also let him feel free enough to form and provide his own opinion.

    I smoke and I don’t want him to do so. I’ve been telling him about nicotine addiction and the effects of smoking since he was young enough to pretend to smoke a crayon (age appropriate descriptions, of course). I’d quit at one time for a few years, but picked it back up awhile back. Now, with the chronic pain, divorce, PTSD, lawyers, and all the stress of being a disabled, single parent, I don’t feel I can quit, because the withdrawal would multiply the anxiety for at least 5 days and up to 2 weeks and I have things to do to keep this home going. I will eventually quit again, but that time will come later. So, I periodically talk to him about making the choice to be a non-smoker.

    Yesterday, they had a presentation at school to show the effects of smoking and to talk about the addiction. He told me all about it and declared he wouldn’t be a smoker. Man, I hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t really speak to smoking or addiction. I’ve never tried it, so I really have no idea.

      I think the main point of my lost is that I was taken aback at how quick I was to judge someone at a glance. Sure I had some traffic enduced anxiety, but it was no excuse.

      I don’t want the kids to learn to judge people like that, so I need to work on it myself.

      I know I get past appearance quite easily normally. This was odd.

      I really must abhor smoking more than I thought, but it’s generally not cool to generalize.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree completely with age appropriate honesty for answering questions. Just to give you fair warning, following that principle help me make a huge screw up with my son.

    When he started to get old enough to recognize what was going on with vaccinations and blood draws (and he has a lot because of allergy testing), he would ask beforehand whether it would hurt. I said, yes, but only a little bit.

    I’ve since learned that you should never, ever, say it will hurt, only “pinch a little bit,” especially since I have a full blown needle phobe on my hands now. Since he could need an EpiPen at any time, this is a HUGE problem for us to overcome.

    On a lighter note, tuck away the phrase “Daddy put a tiny seed into Mommy’s tummy, and it grew into a baby.” And get the book “That’s so Amazing!” for when you finally get asked how the seed got there.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s