mummy why is that lady fat?(28 Posts)
Ok, so me and DS sat in bus stop and there are other people there too when my DS pipes up 'mummy, why is that lady fat' obviously I'd like the ground to swallow me up whole, but I politely explain how we are all different. You'd think this might be an acceptable answer to DS?? Noooooo he wants a more in depth discussion about why people are fat. Thankfully bus arrives and we get on. As we do I turned to the lady and said 'I apologise for my sons inquisitive question and we meant you no offence!' To which she replies 'you my dear need to teach that boy manors and show him a firm hand' to which she thumps past me and gets on the bus. I'm left dumbfounded and the bus promptly leaves with me an DS stood on the pavement! I'm now quietly raging. 1. You can't predict kids and their questions and 2. What the hell should I have done? Smacked his legs and said shhhhh?
I've always felt it better to be honest with DS and not shhhhh him am I wrong?
I'm on the fence here. Obviously you couldn't smother you son into silence, but I've been on the receiving end of this in a pub... it was mortfiying. I just wanted him to STFU or his mum make him stop! Personally I'd go for a firm "it's rude to talk about what people look like" and make clear that was the end of it. Any further explanations can come at home. The woman may have been snappy with you, but imagine how she felt.
How old is DS?
Even when young, you can say 'Shh, not now. We'll talk about this later'.
Because although you hooked she wouldn't take offence, she did. And possibly not by his first remark, but by your choosing to have a whole conversation about it in her earshot.
The 'later' line is also useful when they pipe up with questions about sex when you're in a crowded place.
Learning that not everything is appropriate in every place is also something DC need to learn.
I agree with saying it's rude to talk about what people look like. Later on you can discuss how it can hurt people's feelings in private.
The poor woman was hurt and mortified, I think she gets a pass on being rude this time.
DS is three and the whole conversation was
DS Why is that lady fat?
ME Because people are different?
DS what makes you fat?
ME because people are made in different sizes a bit like Lego.
DS oh ok
I don't want to embarrass or shame anyone. I thought I was doing the right thing by apologising to her but her reaction just made me think why should I?
Just say "we don't talk about what people look like" and change the subject. Later at home explain.
I think if your DC are being rude about people in their earshot (and he was being rude) you should make it very clear in front of the insulted person that it's rude to comment on other peoples' appearances and you will talk about it later at home etc. So they know you've dealt with it. Then of course a full follow up later with DC explaining why, etc.
I think this is the best way if your DC are making "negative" or rude comments rather than curiosity. I, and my DCs have a disability which is visible and we never mind "neutral" curious comments from DC such as "why are they wearing that" or "does that help them". But if someone said "they look weird" or "ooh what's that" in a tone of disgust, I would prefer the parent to make it clear they are being rude, rather than the sweep it under the carpet shush now I'll explain later bright smile approach we are all tempted to do!
The trouble with little DC is you don't know what they're going to say until they've said it! And our "rude"'is their "curious". But it's up to the parent to make it clear to them at the time they are being rude. I think that makes the people they have insulted feel better
I don't think there was anything wrong with your answers. For the record when DD was that small she didn't see many people (I didn't take her out much due to health issues) so anyone who looked different from her usual circle got commented on. I remember her at that age asking me why "that man has black skin" because she had never seen a black person before. (We live in an area with a very low ethnic minority)
Cross post. I think in that conversation, if you had said "we are all different sizes but it's rude to comment on others" it would have been better.
I usually tell dd that it's rude to talk about people's appearance when she comes out with things like this. I think you should have said similar rather than entering into a discussion with him about it.
I don't see anything wrong with the conversation you had with your son tbh. I would probably have made sure I wasn't sitting near the lady to carry on the conversation but I know that we'll talk about it later doesn't work on my nearly 4 year old, she will keep asking more and more. I don't think your answers to your son were rude or inappropriate. Children are inquisitive. She was obviously sensitive about it, and felt offended but I would have handled it exactly the same way to be honest.
I've had this question asked of me and a very firm 'I don't know and it's none of our business' told DC that it wasn't an appropriate conversation.
Well hindsight is a marvellous thing, and I don't think your answers were bad. But I think the second answer in front of the person has to include "rude to talk about" and the bit about Lego, whilst a good idea, was appropriate for later on, when you explained to him more once you were out of earshot. But don't beat yourself up about it.
I'd be more Ragin the bus left before I could get on . Hope you didn't have to wait too long for another one !
It was Nice you apologised. I imagine a lot of people wouldn't
He is THREE. 3. 3 short years old.
It is not rude for a child of that age to ask why the lady is fat, why the man is tall, why the grass is green or the sky is blue.
Fat is not a judgement until you learn it is.
What makes you fat is a good question from a 3 year old.
I'm fat. Of course it hurts to be noticed in that way, but I'm an adult and can deal with it. Most often I will tell the child why I am fat. They ask questions, I answer. The parents look grateful. Hopefully a child with a better understand and often a parent too. If it's not appropriate to reply or discuss it, I'll make it clear to the parent I'm not at all offended.
From a small child it's just an observation & a question about the world around them, not a judgement.
"Better to be honest with DS and not shush him, am I wrong?"
In front of other people like this, yes.
I personally think you should have told him to be quiet. As sweetly and lovely and with as many distractions as you liked.
As he's likely to remember that for less time than that lady as you discussed her size.
You should have told your DS to be quiet. It is exceptionally rude to discuss other people in front of them.
This exact thing happened to me with DD last week. She is also 3.
It was excruciating but I went for immediate distraction, said "we don't talk about what people look like" and started pointing out what amazing things we could see. Later I talked to her about it a bit more.
OP I don't think you did anything wrong. The woman was obviously embarrassed and so lashed out at you - in fact you apologising to her probably made it more difficult for her because she couldn't just ignore it (not that it's wrong to apologise either).
Your DS didn't do anything rude or wrong at all. As PP said, fat isn't a judgement until you make it one. Its so hard for children to understand why they can ask some questions but not others and why sometimes we can be observant and talk about what we can see (like noticing a policeman wearing a hat or a lady with long hair) but other times it's "rude" and "not allowed".
I'm fat and I totally agree with ExtraHotLatteToGo, above.
I would not have been upset had a three year old asked that question about me within my earshot, the child was not being rude. At that age children are just trying to learn about the world around them.
It's a different matter if it's an older child saying something like 'err look at that fat woman' with a pointed finger and snigger. That would be rude and I would not be happy with that.
It's what the intent is that matters.
OP I think you handled it perfectly and you would have got a smile from me.
I think you should have just said 'it isn't nice to comment on other people's size' then gone for a distraction. It wasn't wrong of him though as he is three, I guess the lady was just hurt or upset or embarrassed hence she snapped.
I think you should be teaching your dc not to make personal comments about people
From 3 I would start teaching children not to make comments or ask questions about other people's appearance. I used to tell DS1 that he could whisper it to me if he really needed to say something and we'd talk about it later.
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