One of the joys of motherhood is witnessing the pure innocence and honesty of our children. They spend much of their early youth only knowing joy and happiness, albeit the occasional temper tantrum.
However, there does come a time when as parents, we have to teach our children that some things are just not appropriate to say, even if it is the truth. My younger son Andrew is what I would call brutally honest.
Some might think that is a wonderful quality, but unfortunately, it does have a down side. For instance, one afternoon while playing at a friend’s house Andrew told the mom her house and garage were messy and needed to be cleaned up. I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide I was so embarrassed! All I could do was apologize to the mom, and was thankful that she was also one of my friends so I knew she wasn’t offended.
Recently I have been plagued with adult acne. I have more breakouts now than I did as a teenager. As if I’m not embarrassed enough by it, Andrew had to tell me “the pimples make me look pretty ugly.” Agh! As much as I was bothered by the pimples myself, I began to panic and wonder what other things come out of my child’s mouth?
While I admire Andrew’s honesty, I need to make sure that he isn’t walking around saying things that are hurting someone’s feelings. I need him to use a “filter!” How do you teach a child that sometimes we shouldn’t say certain things because they are hurtful? While at the library recently, Andrew noticed a family from a Middle Eastern family. The women were wearing sari’s and one donned a full burqa.
The women were talking with their children in their native language, which was not English. Andrew proceeded to ask me very loudly, “Why are those brown skinned people talking funny? Are they from China?” Jeez, another moment of pure embarrassment for me! Luckily, I was able to use that situation as an opportunity to teach him about people from other cultures.
I was fortunate that my older son seems to have a “filter.” He is quite compassionate and understands not to say certain things. I didn’t have to teach him that per se, he seemed to “just know.” Now, I need to figure out how to develop Andrew’s filter without teaching him to be dishonest.
This is such a fine line to navigate and I want to teach him that you don’t need to say everything you think. He won’t have many friends if he keeps this up! I’d love to hear from you O’Fallon, do have any advice for me?