The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Remember, Newton’s 3rd Law Relates To Emotions, Not Just Actions …

OK, so now we have got over the fun and frolics of yesterdays April Fool post, I want to bring it back to something serious.

Recently we decided we would have a day where Otis could make all the decisions.

He immediately went for it big time by asking to go to a local builders cafe for breakfast, where he ordered chips, drank a Coke Zero and watched Paw Patrol on his iPad.

You can see him in the photo at the top of this post.

Living the dream.

Anyway, I mentioned this on Facebook when someone I’ve not met but vaguely know wrote:

“We practice ‘good choices’ day, you should try it”.

Now while I was sure it had come out more condescending than intended – this person does have form in being judgemental from their self-appointed pedestal – and Jill decided to inform him of this.

She replied:

“You don’t know me or my son.

Your comment comes across as judgmental and condescending and makes me uncomfortable because it implies my son was making ‘bad’ decisions.

Perhaps if you did know us you would understand our parenting style more and that we aim not to use words like ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because of their unfortunate side effect of creating shame.

Decisions are just decisions, and I believe that kids need space to make a whole variety… nobody makes ‘good’ decisions all the time and I want him to grow up knowing that that’s ok, normal and part of life.

Perhaps your comment really was just about sharing what you see as a fun idea, but your way of expressing it missed the mark…”

As I am sure you will all agree, that was a pretty awesome response.

But more importantly, it highlights how we are attempting to bring up Otis.

Coming back to England has been wonderful, but the one thing that has surprised us is the pretty draconian approach to instilling certain qualities into our kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it’s being done for good reason, but the overt shame/reward approach bothers us. A lot.

There are many reasons for it – and of course, each to their own – but this poster sums up the one we fear the most.

This situation applies to all.

Not just kids … but family members, friends and colleagues.

What’s worse is this tends to stick with people.

It is one of the elements that has driven so many of the Corporate Gaslighting stories.

I get situations can make us angry.

I get people can do stupid things.

But when your approach to correction is shame, you’re trying to improve the outcome of one thing through the destruction of another.

You might not mean it.

You might not want it.

But you are doing it.

23 Comments so far
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Well done Jill. A great response. More polite than I would have given in the same situation.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Yep. I have to say the first things we wrote in our head was “why don’t you fuck off and keep your bullshit opinions to yourself”.

But Jill – being a better person than me – wanted to explain why his comment was not just offensive, but ill informed and potentially highlighting his parental issues versus ours”.

The irony is this guy is a planner. A good one. But somewhere along the line he has decided his strategy is to rob moments of joy of others by highlighting his perceived faults with what they’re doing.

He wrote something so petty and malicious to me when we announced we were moving to LA. I went after him and he wrote a genuine apology but I was still shocked that where his mind went to when he first saw something we were excited about, was “burst their bubble of happiness”.

Comment by Rob

His behavior is more dangerous than the ones he chooses to criticize.

Comment by Mary Bryant

what a fucking prick. for once campbell im not talking about you. not a surprise hes a planner.

Comment by andy@cynic

He may be going through struggles of his own. I hope so. It doesn’t justify this behavior but it makes it more understandable.

Comment by George

Need a hitman?

Comment by Billy Whizz

I would pay for it. That guy is a dick.
Good response Jill.

Comment by DH

What a patronising prick. The fact this person thought it was OK to write such a comment negates any misunderstanding they may have claimed later.

Comment by Bazza

My thoughts exactly. Though how anyone could claim their comment could be misunderstood is an even bigger fool.

Comment by George

Bless Otis. If my parents had given me decision day I would have wanted more than breakfast. What a sweet boy you have. The person who wrote the horrible comment sounds like a bitter, selfish, miserable man. Brilliant reply Jill.

Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

Me too Jemma. That Otis only wants for a fry-up breakfast in a builders cafe while watching his ipad suggests this is a good decision day by most children’s standards. The person who wrote such a pathetic comment sounds like they’re projecting their parental issues.

Comment by George

He’s pretty awesome.

All he really wants in life is gujitzu toys (they’re amazing, especially how customised each character is), pasta and an occasional builders breakfast. Let’s hope it stays that way – which we all know it won’t.

I can see you all smiling about that fact too. Bastards.

Comment by Rob

That poster is incredibly powerful Robert. As you say, a great lesson for parents and bosses alike.

Comment by George

Isn’t it amazing?! The message is incredible.

Jill follows this woman who is a child psychologist and she wrote it. While I know most parents never want to hurt their kids, this poster expresses a simple, but hugely important, lesson that can help parents ensure they don’t. Especially in the quiet, every day moments where often the real damage can be done.

Comment by Rob

Could you get me the name of the woman Jill follows please?

Comment by Mary Bryant

L R Knost.

Comment by Rob

Anyone can see you are wonderful parents. Jill’s response is perfect. I wonder how he would react if the tables were turned?

Comment by Lee Hill

Your acquaintance has isues. I wonder what his parents were like?

Comment by John

I remember this happening and I thought it would lead to a day of decisions. Did Otis not make any subsequent decisions? Was he properly briefed?

Comment by John

He wanted to just play board games and watch Youtube Kids. As bad decisions go, they were pretty epic.

Comment by Rob

why the fuck is that prick still on your facebook. take him off. better still, take the fucker out.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

What a lovely picture of childhood – especially at a time of severe restrictions of movement, people and choices. What I choose to take away from your post is how adaptable children are compared to us ‘grown ups’ to any change in circumstance.I In this case, how effortlessly Otis found a way to contentment. I will try to practice the “Otis way” and send you warm wishes to you and your loved ones. friends and colleagues – stay safe and healthy!

Comment by IH

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