To feel rage about parents being ungracious about their children

(68 Posts)
HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 13:11:53

In the last week I've heard people say about their children and in front of their children: "I don't know what he said the the (music) examiner, he'll never actually practice" when the child had done really well in a music exam. "Are you sure it's my children you're talking about" when they had behaved well at a birthday party and "oh she's not normally like this!" when the three year old was being so nice playing with my three year olds.

AIBU to want to shout at parents who are ungracious about their children and write all these ones off as spiteful fuckers.

tiggerishtom Sat 09-Feb-13 13:17:05

Not unreasonable at all...

My own mother did something like this when I won a swimming gala, aged 7.

That was 26 years ago now, and I still remember it, and how it made me feel and what it took away from my achievement.

Pontouf Sat 09-Feb-13 13:26:07

YANBU. My best mate's sister in law described her 8 year old boy a a "little shit" to me while he was standing there listening and went on to tell me what hard work he was. I was horrified, it was not only ungracious it is potentially so damaging! I ended up engaging him in a long conversation about what he was good at and what he enjoyed at school etc. why are people like that? I am so incredibly proud of my DS (although he obviously has his faults!) and am so pleased when other people praise him.

lockets Sat 09-Feb-13 13:28:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ajandjjmum Sat 09-Feb-13 13:44:37

Don't you think that sometimes is a slightly twisted form of not wanting to brag about your DC?

BigAudioDynamite Sat 09-Feb-13 13:48:51

I think its fine, as long as not in front of kids

Inseywinseyupthespout Sat 09-Feb-13 13:49:15


Sometimes people make those comments light heartedly.

I've heard the "are you talking about my children ...?" A dozen times - usually the kids are laughing too .

Seriously , what is the world coming to !

BigAudioDynamite Sat 09-Feb-13 13:50:34

Its a bit of a change from denying little johnnie could possibly have any faults at all, ever!

Thumbwitch Sat 09-Feb-13 13:53:02

Yes, depends on the situation as to whether or not you're BU, I think.

If they're being serious, then YANBU because it is awful to downplay every little success (my Mum was one of those types too - come home with a 95% result and she'd want to know what happened to the other 5% hmm)

But if it's lighthearted, then YABU.

BigAudioDynamite Sat 09-Feb-13 13:53:06

Exactly insey self deprecation and sarcasm are important lessons grin

carabos Sat 09-Feb-13 14:03:41

I picked up DS2 from his after- school martial arts class one time and arrived at the same time as one of the dads. The teacher asked each of us which child we had come to collect. Naturally I said DS name. The dad said "mine's the lunatic" hmm.

Teacher looked confused and said "sorry, who?". Dad laughed and said "you can't have more than one lunatic". At this point a little girl appeared. Stereotype little girl, plaits, school dress, pretty pretty. The Dad said "Here she is, come on nutter". hmm.

Wonder how he'd like being referred to as "dickhead" cos that's clearly what he was.

HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 14:04:48

Ajandjj no I think it is a very overt form of telling your children that they aren't up to scratch.
Lighted hearted? Why can't they just say "Thanks, that's nice to know." if they want to make an inoffensive reply

I think that people dont want to be seen as bragging or pushy parents so they go too far the other way.

I always say that ds3 is completely different at home than school because he is. It's like having 2 completely different children.

BeaWheesht Sat 09-Feb-13 14:13:24

Hmmm I think I've probably done this obviously not to the extent of calling them offensive names.

I praise them alllll the time though and they know I think they're brilliant but the thing is that my kids are sooooo perfect sometimes I feel bad for people so I have to downplay it, you know?


herewegoloubylou Sat 09-Feb-13 14:21:48

A scary number of parents describe their dc as "lazy". It's like all the textbooks on parenting had never been written.

LookingThroughTheFog Sat 09-Feb-13 14:25:47

Some of the examples here do feel over the top, and yes, I remember being put down in a similar way by my father.

On the other hand, in a similar situation, I sought out a friend because I'd just helped out at a school disco, and of the 8 boys from DSs class who'd attended, 7 had been awful (including DS), and one had been an utter gem. At the end of the evening, I was exhausted, just trying to stop the other seven maim each other.

So to make it a bit more of a happy occasion for me, I found the eighth boy's mum the next day, and told her how brilliantly he had behaved.

She instantly said 'Really? My boy? I can't believe that!', yes, in front of him but, she was glowing with pride over it. The next day she found me to tell me that she'd had to tell her husband what I'd said. And the boy in question had got a cinema trip out of it.

So yes, it seems like a horrible thing to say, and yes, you have to be careful with what you say, but I also think that sometimes, the way you act tells your child a million times more about how you feel than what you actually say.

pigletmania Sat 09-Feb-13 14:28:50

Yabu and overreacting a tad.

HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 14:33:07

Herewego- yy such a self fulfilling prophesy.

HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 14:34:16

Piglet. How so- the people who posted after being on the receiving end mostly agree with me

StripeyBear Sat 09-Feb-13 14:42:23

YANBU Ungrateful buggers. Children deserve better parents than that.

Also hate it when people say they are fed up of their children, or want them adopted or can't wait till they leave home (when they are six years old) etc.

I think a good exercise, if you are prone to saying stupid crap like this - would be to imagine your husband voicing these words about YOU to a table of his mates in the pub, and see if it would make you feel good.

rollmopses Sat 09-Feb-13 14:49:42

Self-fulfilling prophecy.
Years later the down-putting, ahem, parents sit and wonder, why is little Kylee or Darren being such lazy/rude/etc goodfornothing.
Because you daft bint, told them that they are.


ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 14:51:11

YANBU There are so many parents and teachers who don't realise that young DCs don't understand sarcasm or lightheartedness .

I have a good mum but I still remember her laughing AT me (or so it seemed to me) because I didn't understand the fact that there are 10 pennies in a 10 pence piece.

I know that the thing to do to make your DC feel happy and proud (not made too much of ) is to make sure that they ACCIDENTALLY overhear you praising them. Everyone needs to feel wanted and encouraged not put down.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sat 09-Feb-13 14:52:33

Ok but there is a happy medium. Parents should not be afraid to confront their child's faults and help them overcome them. So many children grow up now being unable to deal with anything other than constant constant praise.

Sunnywithshowers Sat 09-Feb-13 14:52:42


My DF said that I'd never amount to anything. It still hurts, over 30 years later.

ArfurFoulkesayke Sat 09-Feb-13 14:53:24

Thumbwitch my DM used to do exactly that to me, jokingly (I see now) but it definitely had an impact.

Chandon Sat 09-Feb-13 14:55:40

Oh no! I call my DC nutters and pickles, but they know it is a joke.

HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 14:57:16

I think there is an ocean of difference between confronting a child's faults and rejecting a nice comment outright.

LynetteScavo Sat 09-Feb-13 14:57:51

My own mother said "I think they've got the wrong child" in front of DS! after reading DS1's school report in which the music teacher praised his abilities. angry

I have been known to do it a bit myself during conversation when it becomes apparent that my DC is outshining somebody elses DC at something; for example if I was watching sports day where my DC was winning every race and I was sitting next to someone who's child was loosing every race, I might point out that my DC is't good at everything.

HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 14:58:03

Chandon- how do they know? And are you sure?

IsThatTrue Sat 09-Feb-13 14:59:11

I tell people dcs aren't always well behaved at home like school because I don't like anybody telling them they can do no wrong. They know I think they are awesome. We also celebrate their achievements and I've never uttered the words 'you must be talking about somebody else'.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 09-Feb-13 14:59:28

I agree with wannabe - it's a pattern that people get into in order to not appear to be bragging or smug. But actually, OP, I agree with you that it needs to be challenged, or at least thought about.

Sometimes it's OK, but sometimes thoughtless comments wound children, because they are children and not as robust as adults

TreadOnTheCracks Sat 09-Feb-13 15:00:10

I agree it's a shame, i try to only think it, not say it.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 09-Feb-13 15:02:11

"YANBU There are so many parents and teachers who don't realise that young DCs don't understand sarcasm or lightheartedness"

That is very true ppeatfruit

ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 15:03:37

Ariel I've never noticed them needing praise constantly (I'm an ex C.M. nanny, E.Y. teacher and M of 3) . It can be constructive like the criticism.

herewegoloubylou Sat 09-Feb-13 15:03:53

The way I see it, a parent's loyalty should be to their child, so thinking about what impression their words will have on the child, not on neighbours and bystanders. It may make the parent more "popular" to make fun of their own child, but it's shit for the kid

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 09-Feb-13 15:05:42


I agree with that, too.

I hasten to add that I have made mistakes before.

HecateWhoopass Sat 09-Feb-13 15:07:25

Yup. I agree with wannabe too.

It's actually almost as though it's a bad thing to be proud of your children. hmm

If someone ever says anything nice about them, instead of saying "thanks, we're really proud of them", we find something negative to say about them.

I've done it myself.

Oh, isn't he polite?

haha, you should be a fly on the wall at home!

It's really damaging and since I realised I do it, I have made a conscious effort to stop and to just say thanks.

I think it's an extension of this thing many of us have about ourselves. Can't accept a compliment. I love that dress. Oh this old thing? I've always thought it makes me look fat...

It's ok to just say thank you. Or even to agree that you're proud of them. you don't have to put them down in order to not be seen to be accepting a compliment.

HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 15:07:52

Yy. It's the disloyalty to what has been achieved/done

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sat 09-Feb-13 15:09:14

ppeatfruit, I've noticed it. Children in Y6 even not having the confidence to do anything on their own without praise and reassurance from an adult at every step.

However, it's irrelevant, seeing as I agree with the OP essentially smile

ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 15:17:23

Thanks jamie grin

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 09-Feb-13 15:26:24


That's exactly what I was thinking - it being a bit like not being able to accept compliments about ourselves

ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 15:36:38

Maybe Ariel Those particular DCs are just needy and insecure anyway and would be with or without the praise IFYSWIM.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sat 09-Feb-13 15:38:30

Maybe. A lot of teachers/lecturers are saying the same though.

herewegoloubylou Sat 09-Feb-13 15:39:51

I think it's a lot worse than not being able to accept compliments ourselves - because they are children, and we are their parents.

ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 15:45:40

Perhaps it's down to the micro management of everything nowadays just not letting DCs get on with stuff on their own.

I remember teaching Y1 'art' copying Van Gogh's The Sunflowers on tiny pieces of paper shock WTF !!!! Y1!!!

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sat 09-Feb-13 15:50:54


Picturesinthefirelight Sat 09-Feb-13 15:52:46


I do it to over confident dd as there will co e a time when she realises that she has to actually work to achieve something rather than finding it easy.
She's the sort of child who coasts then pulls it out of the bag for an exam.

I praise effort not achievement. Also as I work in the performing arts it's easy to find extra faults with your own child so when she goes well in a performance I do downplay it.

ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 16:04:17

It's not her fault she's bright though Pictures She still needs encouragement for her self esteem. She'll find out how difficult life is soon enough.

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 09-Feb-13 16:21:10

Yes but she could be brilliant if she put some effort in!

HilaryClinton Sat 09-Feb-13 16:28:38

So the plan is to publicly bring her down a peg or two, so that she will want to do it more?

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 09-Feb-13 16:36:22

Well when she does stuff like pose for the photographer instead of concentrating on positioning at a dance dress rehearsal she needs taking down a peg or two lol.

As I said I praise effort and hard work.

ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 17:19:10

IMO if your parents don't love you unconditionally who will? Also you may find your plan backfiring spectacularly pictures.

marjproops Sat 09-Feb-13 17:24:12

''YANBU Ungrateful buggers. Children deserve better parents than that.

Also hate it when people say they are fed up of their children, or want them adopted or can't wait till they leave home (when they are six years old) etc.''

Absolutely YY to that. some people dont deserve children and shouldnt have them.

AlwaysHoldingOnToStarbug Sat 09-Feb-13 17:34:02

I've been guilty of telling teachers that they're nothing like that at home. I have two very quiet at school children who never put a foot out of line there. Very very different outside of school - even their teachers have expressed surprise when they've seen me telling them off!

However I make sure I tell them I'm proud of them when they try hard and despite the volume levels at home I love the school holidays. I can't stand those who moan on Facebook as soon as school breaks up that they can't wait for it to start again.

webwiz Sat 09-Feb-13 17:40:46

So what are you supposed to say if you have a child that can repeatedly "wing it" in music exams? DD2 did the minimum of practice and only knew half her scales but was always lucky enough to get asked the ones she could play. I'd be a nervous wreck waiting for it to go badly wrong but she's pass each time. Should I tell everyone how fabulous she was? or point out that she was very lucky to get away with it?

Ragwort Sat 09-Feb-13 17:48:42

This is an interesting view point, you just can't win at parenting grin. I am probably guilty of this because my DS does behave very, very differently at home from 'in public'; the other day I had cried at home over his awful behaviour, I then met someone who told me, very kindly, how helpful, charming and polite my son was - that made me cry even more grin. I did make the comment 'I wish he was like that at home' because it is true - what should I do confused, just smile gracefully and accept the compliment I suppose.

I do think a lot of these comments can be lighthearted, I do the school holiday comment as well blush - having an only child I know he is bored stiff during the long holidays, despite all the different things we try to arrange for him, he would much rather be out and about with his friends.

ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 17:57:40

webwiz But that's you who'd be nervous isn't it? Not her. I'd just say nicely to her that she was lucky and did very well at what she knew which wouldn't have happened if she'd been asked to play what she didn't know. IMO you don't have to go mad with the praise. Maybe encourage her to practice by mentioning the problem.

You can also say the same to others.

lljkk Sat 09-Feb-13 17:58:12

I dunno... DD is very clever & self organised. I spend most of PE asking teacher about her behaviour and telling teachers to crack down on her if she messes about. Because... that is what she needs to work on. Academics comes easy to her but being nice doesn't (always).

HollyBerryBush Sat 09-Feb-13 18:06:40

(friend) Didn't johnny do well in his music exam

(you) I have no idea how, he never practices.

What you are really saying is - my child is so goddam bright but I cant acknowledge that so I will use self effacing tactics to make the point.

Ditto this scenario:

(Friend) I love that top, is it new?

(You) this old thing? I just threw it on thismorning.

What you are really saying is - ah yes it cost half a months salary to look this good but I'm never going to admit it in a million years.

Reverse psychology works on a lot of people. I remember my bio teacher telling me I'd played about for far too long and was going to come out with a big fat U. I got an A, she knew exactly how to play me to make me step up from a B to an A rather than coast along on the seat of my pants.

OP just because you dont understand a family dynamic and see what you think you see, don't misunderstand understanding and forces at play within the home.

ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 18:14:21

The dichotomy between home and school is interesting; I would far rather my DCs played up at home where they can relax and be themselves as we all should. I'm not perfect why would I expect that from our DCs?

perplexedpirate Sat 09-Feb-13 18:40:47

Oh, this is my mother all over. I was a high achiever at school and once got 99% in an exam. I told my mother (foolishly) expecting her to be happy.
She said '99% is not 100%' and never said another word about it.
She's still like this, I just don't tell her stuff anymore.

ppeatfruit Sat 09-Feb-13 18:46:17

sad Do you compensate with your own DCs if you have any or if not would you perplexed?

numbum Sat 09-Feb-13 19:14:23

I do this blush. It's my inability to handle a compliment that makes me. People praising my DC makes me feel awkward and I usually end up making some inane comment which leaves me cringing after.

After reading this thread I promise to make a conscious effort not to do it!

TumbleWeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 19:36:03

Actually I can see where Picture is coming from.

dc1 is a very bright child. She is doing very well, has been told by her Y2 teacher that she was at Y6 level etc...
Except that she is bright and mature but not exceptional (I know I was like this) so she 'forgets' to work hard, to be careful, to make some efforts. And thinks she is so good that no one can be as good as her.
I know it's not the case. I know she will be very very hurt arriving in secondary where at some point she will have yo start working. I know that at some point she will also have in from of her people who are at least as good if ot better than her.

So do I want to be praising every single achievement where she has put no effort in at all? No I am not going to.

However, I would not use any of the names/sentences some parents seem to use (such as 'Is it my child?') because that's a put down which is very different.

TumbleWeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 19:37:39

Perplexed this again a very different situation. When a child is doing really well, has put the effort in and is clearly proud of what they have done, then by any means, you should be praising them!

perplexedpirate Sat 09-Feb-13 19:51:02

Oh heavens, yes! I praise DS all the time, he's the apple of my eye. I would never make remarks like the OP mentions.
It's just so damaging, do these parents not realise??

I had this as a child. I was never as clever, artistic or tidy as my older sister.
If I got a B+ "Why didn't you get an A"?
Okay it was probably said in the context of "Well if you'd done a bit more work you could've got the A" but I saw it as critisism.
My teachers never compared us. They always saw us as completely different individuals (which in a way was more annoying because they taught 1000s of pupils and still saw the qualities that I had).

And I was the stooge who tidied and cooked (my sister was always 'busy')

So now I have my DC. When I go toparents evenings I tell the teachers that I have no scales before my eyes WRT to DS.He's clever and works hard at the subjects he likes. But anything he doesn't he'll dash off any old tat.

This isn't tolerated by me or DH and he knows he'll be made to do it again.
It doesn't harm his esteem if I tell him "I'm not letting you hand this in.It's not good enough"
But if he does well, he gets praised (verbal and reward)

Today he bought some cookies and was very polite "please and Thank You".
He's not rude at home by any means but I'm always a bit smug proud of him when he's like this. But it's what we should all expect isn't it? Basic manners?

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