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 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 . It is a very good blog on the “goodness” of a child and along the same lines.