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AIBU?

To think we weren’t in the wrong here?

304 replies

outofthedarkshadows · 23/11/2019 11:05

Out with DD aged 3 and a woman walked past. DD said in that loud way children have ‘that’s a big lady.’

I know that must have been unpleasant for her but she gave me such a look and said ‘teach it some manners.’

(I had quietly said to dd that wasn’t a nice thing to say.)

OP posts:
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Am I being unreasonable?

1358 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
49%
You are NOT being unreasonable
51%
Havaina · 23/11/2019 11:19

*feeling shit

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DryHeaving · 23/11/2019 11:19

I would have apologised to the lady and made my daughter apologise too

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KittenLedWeaning · 23/11/2019 11:20

Oh for fucks sake, give your head a wobble. The 'mannerless child' is 3, not 13. Get over yourself.

Interesting to note that many of the posters who think what the child said was acceptable, are saying so in a rude and insulting way. That's very telling indeed.

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blackteasplease · 23/11/2019 11:20

She was unreasonable to call a child “it”. That’s very unkind and not called for.

What your dd said was very hurtful but you did address that.

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7Worfs · 23/11/2019 11:20

Imagine getting up in arms because of a 3y/o 🤦🏻‍♀️
OP, keep correcting gently, she’ll learn.

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ohwheniknow · 23/11/2019 11:23

We are talking about a three year old.

In our culture it's considered rude to say what she said. In others it isn't. It's not ingrained knowledge she should hold.

Getting arsey because a three year doesn't always recognise which observations about the world around her she is or is not allowed to say out loud in this culture is ridiculous. Arguably learning that often nuanced distinction is as hard or harder than acquiring language and learning grammar.

She merely made an observation of fact. It's only us who load it with value judgements that weren't there.

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ManiacalLapwing · 23/11/2019 11:25

Young children just say what they see, and it's not like she said 'Look mummy, that lady is SO fat!'. 'That's a big lady' is no different to 'That lady has blue hair'.

I don't see anything wrong with how you handled it, the woman was the one who was rude, she is old enough to know better!

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SleepingStandingUp · 23/11/2019 11:25

I think the thing to do in these instances is to immediately apologise to the woman, then audibly tell the child we don't come t in people's experiences.

The problem for the 3 yo is that people likely do - oh isn't she a pretty girl, what a cute baby, oh isn't your brother handsome. In books, the beautiful princess. The ugly witch etc.

DS 4 loudly asked why the lady (immediately in front of us) had lines in her face. I styled it out and told him it's part of what made her so beautiful but it hard to get across the message at this age

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MustardScreams · 23/11/2019 11:25

Dd is almost 3 and she knows it’s rude to comment on people’s appearance. It’s really not hard to teach your child to not be rude.

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Celebelly · 23/11/2019 11:27

Only on MN are three-year-olds expected to have an in-depth knowledge of cultural norms and appropriate social behaviour in every situation Hmm Kids can be tactless and say what they see. It's not because they haven't been taught manners; it's because they are children and still learning about the world they are in and how their society works.

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SleepingStandingUp · 23/11/2019 11:29

The problem is Mustard most of the time it isn't "rude"
The man in the bus who says what pretty hair she has, the woman in the shop who comments on how cute she is etc. Or a child commenting in joyous wodner at the lady with three colours in her hair etc.

So unless you also tell your daughter everytime someone says something complimentary that it's rude, it's easy for most kids to get confused as they don't senecessaey see big or lines as a negative.

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Meruem · 23/11/2019 11:29

In my youth I had a full on goth phase. I can remember a couple of small children saying “mummy, look a witch” Grin didn’t bother me at all. I can’t believe she called your child “it” she’s the one that needs to learn some manners! What a bitch.

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KittenLedWeaning · 23/11/2019 11:29

She merely made an observation of fact. It's only us who load it with value judgements that weren't there.

Whether a value judgement is retrospectively attached or not, it still isn't OK to air factual observations about passers by.

"That woman has a scar on her face"
"That man can't walk properly"
"That little girl only has one arm"

Those would all be factual observations, made without judgement, but they are inappropriate because they draw attention to personal characteristics about which someone might feel self-conscious.

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ohwheniknow · 23/11/2019 11:30

Would her saying "that's a tall lady" be considered hurtful? No.

Saying "that's a big lady" isn't either.

They are both mild factual observations.

The only reason people may feel hurt at hearing the latter is because of the nasty way our culture is around being larger. Not because the child in question said anything hurtful.

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Celebelly · 23/11/2019 11:35

Yeah, 'we don't comment on people's appearances' doesn't wash because everybody does this. What you really mean is 'we don't comment negatively on people's appearances' and then expect a child of three to be able to judge what our society deems negative and positive about the way someone looks. Oh and to expect this without them ever actually making a comment that needs to be corrected because that would be 'bad manners'. Good luck with that.

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outofthedarkshadows · 23/11/2019 11:36

Well, I can see it’s not quite the same as that Meruem

OP posts:
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KittenLedWeaning · 23/11/2019 11:37

Would her saying "that's a tall lady" be considered hurtful? No.

Whether it was hurtful would depend on whether the woman was self-conscious about being unusually tall, surely?

We don't know whether the woman would mind or not - that's why, as polite and considerate people, we don't blurt out 'factual observations' about every person we pass on the street.

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WhoCaresWins01 · 23/11/2019 11:37

I have a 12 year old with autism and learning difficulties - he tends to say what he sees - I am trying to teach him not to comment on peoples appearance but he just doesn't get it!
I think you should spoken louder so that she could have heard you reprimanding your dd.

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Mammyloveswine · 23/11/2019 11:39

My almost 4 year old has never said anything like this, he has some social and communication issues and he knows not to comment on others appearances, mostly due to us not commenting on others.

I work in a preschool and we have some larger members of staff, none of the children have ever commented or made reference to their appearance.

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Bluerussian · 23/11/2019 11:39

Little children say what comes into their heads, we eventually teach them to be tactful.

Mine aged about 2.5 saw a Dwarf in the post office and said at top of voice, "That's a little lady!". I did tell him it is not polite to draw attention to how people look (not in those words, can't remember exactly what I said but words to that effect).

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Idroppedthescrewinthetuna · 23/11/2019 11:39

Most children do this at some point. It is never usually meant maliciously. I was teaching my Dd colours, she was so happy! On the bus I asked her to point all the orange things out she could see. A lady got on the bus with far too much foundation on, my dd being enthusiastic pointed and shouted 'mummy an orange lady.' The poor woman must have felt so embarrassed! I was embarrassed too. I can't remember how I handled it, it was many years ago! I did apologise to the lady though. She was very lovely and said 'kids are just great aren't they' I think she picked up on my horror and felt sorry for me too.

I think though Op you should have apologised to the lady. But, as she called your child 'it' I would have retracted the apology immediately!

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ohwheniknow · 23/11/2019 11:40

The things people feel self conscious about are culturally specific.

I'm not saying it's ok for adults or older children to go around pointing out things they understand will upset those people; I am saying it's unreasonable to expect a three year old to be able to understand and make these distinctions when the rules involved in making them are not straightforward and not ingrained.

You picked examples of observations you knew would upset people (although again, there are cultures where people would not be upset to have facial scarring commented on), I picked one I knew was unlikely to. We could both add more.

It is unreasonable to expect a three year old to have figured all this out and get it right all the time. They're still learning irregular verbs - you can't predict those and have to rote learn, and you can't predict which observations are upsetting to people until you've mastered our cultural rules by rote.

I'm not saying don't bother teaching her I'm saying don't make out she's naughty or deserves telling off!

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KittenLedWeaning · 23/11/2019 11:41

Yeah, 'we don't comment on people's appearances' doesn't wash because everybody does this.

Do they? I don't comment on the appearances of people as I'm passing them in the street. I might comment on the appearance of someone, say, on television, or I might pay a friend a compliment on their appearance - but I don't comment on strangers' appearances within their earshot, whether positively, neutrally or negatively.

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CatteStreet · 23/11/2019 11:41

I'm with Celebelly.

And tbh, after that outrageously rude comment by the woman (calling a child 'it'! All moral high ground lost instantly) I would have said to her, 'I am, but you appear to have left yours at home today', smiled sweetly, and moved on.

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SunshineAngel · 23/11/2019 11:42

The poor woman was probably just embarrassed, particularly if she was a big lady. You don't know what her life is like, or what's going on in her head. She might hate herself and hate looking in the mirror, and spend hours building up enough confidence to go outside. You just don't know! She might sit crying every night thinking about ending it all because she feels worthless.

So a horrible comment - whether from someone who should know better or not - will hurt. What she said was just a reflex reaction.

In fact, it's probably worse, because young children are known to speak as they see!

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