Being “Nice” VS What’s Right

One thing I continually find myself saying to my children is to “be Nice”. If my son treats his sister wrongly, I might exclaim “That isn’t nice!” or if my daughter is treating her brother wrong I might also say ” you need to treat your brother nicely”. I have taught my son to ask for his juice “nicely” So much that he now says, “ask nicely” instead of” May I have some juice please”.

We all want our kids to have “good manners” or to be polite to people and sometimes we focus on them being “nice” instead of allowing them to make the right decision to treat someone with respect. I remember telling my son “That isn’t nice” and my husband saying gently, “Maggie, it’s not about being nice, it’s about doing what’s right or what they should do”. At first I was a little peeved because I was being corrected on my parenting skills by the person whose opinion I hold in the highest esteem and therefore is easiest to piss me off when I am corrected. This usually means he is right. “Damn!”, I thought, “He’s right.”

There are a lot of “nice” people in this world but it doesn’t neccesserily make them good people. In our society we are bred and taught to be kind to everyone, to smile when we don’t want to and to not ruffle feathers. And certainly there are times to tur the other cheek, there are balances. But by telling my child constantly to “be nice” am I instilling a social habit that may hinder them from being who they are and allowing them freedom of speech and the freedom to tell some one “fuck off'” when the situation calls for it?

I have to look into my family history here. I come from a along line of “nice” people. Mainly women who do not want to hurt your feelings, Though I think that reason is a mask for the true reason that follows; we have been told it is good to be nice and bad to be direct even when Β a situation calls for it. Yes, it may not have been the direct words but as they say actions speak louder than words and being raised around women who react this way, well it is only natural it gets passed down. This is not a slant my mother or my grandmother, they are wonderful people and I wouldn’t trade them for the world, it is just a result of an expected behavior passed down through the generations.

An example of being nice when i should have said “fuck you”. A friend of mine went through a horrible relationship. i was friends with both this person and their other half. When the separation began I remained friends with them both though my loyalty was to my original friend. I stayed in contact with the other half to be nice. I didn’t want the person to think less of me or to ruffle any feathers. How wishy washy and truly un-nice to my true friend this was. I finally separated myself from that person when I realized my error. And my error was all out of being ‘nice’.

Sometimes the nicest thing you can do is to be truthful. Sometimes being truly nice does not come with a smile or grin. I do not want my kids to be cursed with the “nice” gene. It will overthrow their commonsense and self respect. I no longer use the word ‘nice’ in my house, at least not for instruction. Instead i try to instill what is right. Though I don’t use that word either, I just try to say” this is how we treat one another”. I do this because the word “nice” can be exchanged for a number of other words, ‘right’ being one of them.

Anyways that’s my thoughts, hope you got your pennies worth out of it. For another blog on this subject visit http://swimming-duck.blogspot.com/2011/03/goodness-of-child.html .Β It is a very good blog on the “goodness” of a child and along the same lines.

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12 thoughts on “Being “Nice” VS What’s Right

  1. Aww…thanks for the mention! I LOVE this post – and no, not just because you mentioned my blog! πŸ˜‰ I struggle with this. It’s interesting that I was actually pondering our long line of nice people earlier today and how that has impacted my ability to be assertive when the situation calls for it. I worry a lot about stepping on other people’s feelings. Now, granted, I don’t think we should walk around stomping on feelings just for the sake of doing so and I know that’s not what you’re saying anyways. BUT there needs to be a certain freedom to be who you are without obsessing over whether or not you have hurt another’s feelings simply by being yourself!

    Can I give you another related thought to ponder? I plan to write a blog about it someday but my thoughts at the moment aren’t collected enough to do so. I try really really hard not to force my child to apologize when he’s hurt someone. There – I said it. I’m now the worst mother of the year. But seriously, what’s the point if he doesn’t mean it? I mean really, I HATE when people apologize to me when they don’t mean it. Why teach my son to do that to others? What do you think of that? I’m curious!

    • What a good topic! I have to think about that because while I agree whole heartily not to apologize unless you mean it (we tell Hattie this), I also think instilling in them at a young age with the knowledge that their actions affect others around them is good. But that doesn’t necessarily have to come from forcing a toddler to say sorry when they may not understand it yet. Good point. I will really ponder that. I like your mind.

  2. Wow… this was good indeed. You know i never thought about it…
    I guess for me I say when my boy is hitting his sister … don’t hit.
    Because thats the action and you shouldn’t hit.
    But then I find myself telling my kindergartner when she tells me she doesn’t like someone in class that thats not right she should like everyone and everyone will like her.
    Now I realize thats total BS … she has her reasons for not liking a person and I should respect that. I should help her to see why she does and if there is anything she can do to fix that.
    And another truth is that not everyone will like her … as hard to believe that is for me … and she will have to deal with that as well.
    This was good Mag! Real good… you got me thinking!

    • Why, thank-ya! Yes it is true no matter how hard we try there is always a hater, someone out there who doesn’t like us for whatever reason. But I like your approach of telling your kids not to do the action, ie., don’t hit, don’t yell etc.

  3. I honestly can’t recall ever telling my kids to “be nice”, but I know that a lot of people do. I grew up differently than most people I guess. I’ve always taught my kids to do what’s right, rather than do what you are expected to. And yet, all of my kids are well mannered and I am constantly complimented on it. Is that odd? However, they are all strong willed little individuals with minds and opinions of their own. I don’t expect them to be easily walked over as adults and that was my main goal. I guess in teaching them to be respectful and sympathetic to others, they naturally are “nice” at the appropriate times but speak theirs minds when needed.

    Great post!

    • You are doing a good job! I was raised to do the right thing as well but being nice really factored into it. I am always encouraged when I see people who don’t have that “be nice” way about them. It proves it works and solidifies in my mind that it is indeed the correct way to go. I believe all kids should be able to keep that strong will but alas sometimes it is forced out of them, by heavy handedness or using the wrong methods to get your child to “behave”. Thanks for sharing Thypolor. Oh and your package will be on its way this week. Be afraid, be very afraid! πŸ™‚ I joke.

  4. Agreed. I tend to tell Hunter “don’t do”, but a situation recently caused me to realize that I sometimes criticize him for reacting a certain way to a situation that he has no idea is inappropriate…

    Leaving our apartment the other day, a very large (in both size and height) man walked by and smiled. Hunter gasped and, as quietly as he could, said “that’s the biggest man I’ve ever seen!” My immediate reaction was to pull him aside and scold him for his reaction, this upset him because I caught him off guard. I yelled, he cried, I felt like shit.

    Point is, why the hell scold him over something that a) was a true fact to him (I’m pretty sure that was literally the biggest guy he’s ever seen) and b) over his normal, knee jerk reaction to what he’s seeing. He wasn’t being rude, more amazed really, but because it’s not “NICE” to stare at large people, I became embarrassed for him and my kid suffered the consequence.

    As always, your bad ass, Momma!!

    • Dude I have done the same thing. It i a knee jerk reaction indeed, I am trying really hard to just let my kids say what they will and gently encourage them to use commonsense on when it is appropriate and when it’s not but sometimes even that is difficult. I love you andmiss you, kiss dat kid for me and rub your beautiful prego belly!

  5. I agree with the comment “Sometimes the nicest thing you can do is to be truthful.” I think being a true friend sometimes we have to be honest….even if it hurts. With my children more now than before I’ve been intentional to make them own their feelings and why they feel them. It’s a lot of work and I don’t have toddlers! I want them to feel how they feel but be responsible in their reactions, or if they weren’t responsible at least be able to look back and see where they were wrong. Of course that means I’m required to do the same which stinks pretty bad!!!
    I’m just starting to realize how much teaching as parents we have to do. Maybe it’s because I’m homeschooling and it’s intensified. I really think if I realized this before having kids, I would of seriously thought twice.
    Ok, am I going to regret this message tomorrow??? It’s 1 am…..and I think so….but what the hell!

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