Monday, May 15, 2006

Open Mouth, insert Foot

How do you recover from saying the most stupid things? We went to a little girl's birthday party, and while the young ones were having fun, the grown-ups were talking. We started talking about how to recover when you've said something incredibly offensive, unknowingly. How to talk to a single mother, to encourage her and not offend. How to talk to a lady who wants children but cannot conceive. How to comfort someone who is grieving without sounding too cliché.
I have no real idea.
Some say about the childless, don't talk about your baby, others say do talk about your baby, but not too much.

All I can say is this. I (and most people I know) really and truly do not wish to cause pain or offend. So, if I say anything offensive, please do not take offense. If you'd like, let me know how you feel and how I can best communicate with you. Other ladies in your position might not feel the same way.

I believe that a wise woman knows what to say and when to shut up. And when I get wise, I'll let you know!



Anonymous said...

My foot is in my mouth so much I can hardly talk! lol.

I was pleased that you offered a comment on my musings about Child Discipline. I think it would be a sad world if we couldn't speak about the things that are really important to us.

But you are right, a wise woman does know when to bite her tongue - I just wish I could remember that at times! Lol.
p.s. I love your blog. :o)

Lisa said...

Those are all good questions. I find sometimes asking directly is the best alternative, although perhaps that is sometimes offensive too. I might say, "does it hurt you when I talk about my kids?" At that point, she can tell me and we won't ever have to go through the awkwardness again.

Then again, I have a size 7.5 mouth. :)

Mrs.B. said...

As a married woman who is childless I am not bothered at all by people who talk about their children. The things that hurts me the most are when people make statements such as:

-'I couldn't stand it if I couldn't have children.'

'Why don't you just adopt?' (Adoption is's expensive and extremely instrusive.)

-'Don't you like children?'

-When they assume because I am not a mother that I know nothing about children. I was a preschool teacher for several years, have babysat since I was 12 and have worked in day cares.

-When they pity me and make statements about 'how meaningless a life without children must be.'

Yes, I realize that most people aren't out to hurt me when saying these things, but none-the-less it does hurt. To be honest, I am at peace with not having children....I think God has given us grace in this area. Instead I focus on the advantages. However I think people need to be more careful.

On the flip side I think that if you're unable to have children, you need to extend people some grace and remember that they don't mean to be hurtful. And that God hasn't given them special grace to go through it because they're not in that situation. I also think it's selfish to not be able to rejoice when someone else is expecting. Just because I can't doesn't mean I can't be happy for others who are.

Just my .02. (o:

Anonymous said...

I have this disease at times!! And I feel so sick when I do!! When I do insert foot I hope others know that it isn't intentional. But you're right...a wise woman will know when to shut her mouth. Thing is at times...I'm pretty foolish.

Mrs. B....I appreciate what you said in your comment. We have a couple in our church that aren't able to have children of their own..and it has been very difficult at times when different ones have brought in or talked about newborns. But I believe your are right about the grace that God gives. It is that way with any situation. A person won't experience that special grace that God gives for the situation till you are in that situation. That is the wonderful Saviour we serve!!

I love you all and thank God for how the Lord is using each of the ladies I'm getting to know in the blogging world.

Rhonda said...

Thank you ladies, its nice to know that I am not alone.

Mrs. B, thank you for your candor. Thank you for your maturity.

I remember a verse I learned in school: Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6

This is the goal!

Mrs.B. said...

Hi Julie: Thank you. God has given us special grace in this area and you're correct--He doesn't give it unless it's needed! One important thing to remember as well is that God offers the grace.....we must 'choose' to accept it.

My husband and I chose to be happy and look on the bright side of things. I have unfortunately seen many people plunge into the 'depths of despair' (as Anne would say!) and if you do so, you can ruin your marriage and bring a lot of unhappiness upon yourself.

One other thing that I have found hurtful is when I first started reading blogs, a few people indicated that if you were childless it is because God is judging you. It was mostly people who hold to Reformed Theology that would express this view. THAT was very hurtful and I almost quit reading blogs because of it.

Thanks Rhonda, for allowing me to express my viewpoint on this....I hope I wasn't too blunt! And you're right, Col 4:6 is something we should all strive for! I know I often fail in this area! (o:

I just LOVE your blog Rhonda, it's one of my favourites!

Rhonda said...

It looks like I'm going to make a regular post for this subject from the comments because this is way too good. This is real Christianity.

Terri said...

Being able to hold your tongue and speak when necessary or saying the right things at the right times - it is so hard to do. Our SS class just studied Prov. 31:12 and part of what we learned was being discreet. I think that being discreet is a trait that most of us have forgotten or never learned - myself included. Praise God that He is teaching us and that He is patient!

Bethanie said...

Being infertile..I've heard it all. When I first found out, everything upset me. This would have been the time when it was best not to say anything to me. As I grew into my new reality, I learned to remember that people mean well. I was soon able to be happy for a new mother without feeling pitty for myself. This is when I didn't want people tip toeing around with me. I didn't want people feeling sorry for me. In the last year the subject is no longer a big deal to me. Which I think makes people more comfortable with me. I don't notice when people bring up their kids and I answer any questions they have about our situation.
So, I think its all a matter of what phase the woman or couple is in this season of their life. Is it new-is she still grieving. Has it been a couple of years since she found out-she's more comfortable. If you don't know for sure-then perhaps you should just stay away from the subject altogether. Talk about cooking or something.
Also I had to share the worst comments:
"Don't you want children"
"When are you going to give us a baby"
"Is there something wrong with your husband...because I know of such and such who has this and that"
"Do you want me to have your child for you"(several people offered, people I wouldn't leave our fish with)
and I think the worst of all
"Well..I guess God is punishing you for sleeping with your husband before you were married" (I was a virgin when we got married)
I think the bottom line is that most of these comments were people being nosey or just plan mean.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog, Rhonda, and will definitely be back to read some more.

I am a Christian with chronic pain and have also been hurt by some of the things people say to me. I'm learning that it's a good time to practice forgiveness and grace towards them. Many times people think they're being helpful and don't even realize that I have been given the same advice over and over. And, the thing that's interesting to me is that I've said the same things to people before I had chronic pain myself. To be honest, I did not believe that anyone could have this much pain.

The book of James is a good one to study for taming the tongue.

Rhonda said...

Thanks for your comments, Sabine and Bethanie,
My Mom went for years with terrible back pain. She prayed to the Lord and eventually He led her to a book that helped her and the pain is all but gone.
However, she has been extremely reluctant to share the book and ideas for the same reason. Its all about the process God is going through with you. What He is doing with you is just with you. And while this most likely is painful, it is also very comforting to know that God is working on ME.
God Bless you both,