eleanorjane: The one, the only, Harley Quinn. (Default)
the sun and the moon and the stars ([personal profile] eleanorjane) wrote in [community profile] agonyaunt2017-05-23 01:36 pm

Carolyn Hax: when honesty is not the best policy

(From here.)

DEAR CAROLYN: My 11-year-old daughter is going through a phase right now of extreme, black-and-white thinking. Right is right and wrong is wrong. This is challenging sometimes.

My mother-in-law loves to host but it’s pretty obvious she buys entire meals pre-packaged from a grocery store chain and passes them off as hers. The adults just pretend we don’t know.

Earlier this week my sister-in-law brought this up in a joking way and she, my husband, and I had a laugh about it. Well, my daughter heard this and confronted us about Grandma’s cooking. We tried to explain to her that it’s a kindness not to say, “You didn’t take the garbage out so I saw the takeout containers.” My daughter replied with, “So when you told Grandma her potatoes tasted good, it was a lie?”

She is right, really. We all sort of lie, and so does Grandma.

My daughter told us in no uncertain terms that she will not pretend that Grandma cooked the meal. She is also rather frosty toward us for our willing participation in this, her word, charade, and asked, “What else has Grandma been lying about?”

My husband thinks we should just let this play out, and that our daughter will not be able to look her grandmother in the eye and actually say this stuff. I am almost positive our daughter will say this stuff, and maybe we should warn his mother. Any advice?

We All Sort of Lie

DEAR WE ALL SORT OF LIE: Off the record, please don’t correct your future journalist/scientist/prosecutor too successfully.

On the record, the most important thing here is your daughter’s socialization. You can accomplish that whether you warn Grandma or not — because the consequences of not warning her just aren’t that dire, and because your mission is unchanged regardless. Your daughter has forced you to defend beliefs you probably haven’t examined for a long time, if ever, as kids do so mind-blowingly well.

So find a way to justify your approach to honesty that withstands scrutiny … or admit your daughter is right. “It’s a kindness” is fine as far as it goes, but where specifically are the lines between cruelty and kindness, and kindness and deceit?

Whether you tip off Grandma or let her startled face be part of your daughter’s education, the next dinner will be instructive for your daughter.

So, yeah, I’m giving you nothing. Tell us how it went!
minoanmiss: (Default)

[personal profile] minoanmiss 2017-05-23 07:59 am (UTC)(link)
AHAHAHHAAHAHAHA anyone else want some popcorn?

___

Personally I would warn Grandma to prevent her lashing out in shocked dismay at Kid, aka, to give her time to consider her response to Kid's Uncompromising Honesty.

As for the dinner subterfuge, that all sounds pretty incomprehensible to me, but I guess if everyone agreed to it... but now the Kid is refusing to agree to it, and that's an important stand. Of course, nuance is also an important concept for people of all ages.

In conclusion, popcorn.
jadelennox: Judith Martin/Miss Manners looking ladylike: it's not about forks  (judith martin:forks)

[personal profile] jadelennox 2017-05-23 06:08 pm (UTC)(link)
I gotta say, while I disagree with the actual advice, I 100% agree with this: Off the record, please don’t correct your future journalist/scientist/prosecutor too successfully. On the record, the most important thing here is your daughter’s socialization.

(Personally, I'd be comfortable with a parenting method that teaches the kid that brutal honesty, if is not in service of, say, being a journalist, prosecutor, or some other vital truth telling role, is rude, and if she insists on hurting her grandmother's feelings for no reason, she will be punished exactly as if she had told her grandmother to fuck off. And I say this as somebody who got punished for telling my grandmother to fuck off.

To quote the inimitable Judith Martin:

“For years, people have been saying, "Why don't we say what we feel?' ” Ms. Martin says. “The answer to that is nobody really wants to hear it. Honesty is a virtue, but it's not the only virtue. A person needs to judge when to say something, and when sparing someone's feelings is the overriding virtue.”


Or from this column, which reads like she's describing the LW's child to a T, or describing me-at-eleven!
Those are just ordinary folks with a spirited sense of fairness. Or so they tell themselves. The righteous indignation with which they are able to defend such behavior as rebellion against unjust practices, pay scales and prices makes them sound like patriots.

These may be some of the same people Miss Manners has in mind, but she is considering their sense of honesty in situations that they believe to be of more serious moral consequence. That is, when they might be expected to say something nice that is not an honest reflection of their personal feelings at the moment.

)
minoanmiss: (Default)

[personal profile] minoanmiss 2017-05-23 07:47 pm (UTC)(link)

nod I was waving at this concept with the mention of nuance. This would be an excellent time to teach the kid about "Is it true? Is it kind? Is it HELPFUL?" OTOH, there is an element of justice in the kid's soul that I hope can be preserved while tempering it with mercy and necessity.

Also, as usual, you give better advice than the paid columnist. In general, that's something I enjoy about this comm.

likeaduck: A Vespa motorscooter with giraffe print paint job. "Vespa" logo appears in black behind the scooter. (Default)

[personal profile] likeaduck 2017-05-23 01:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Hee. Okay, is be coming up with a good response to avoid being the one on the spot when the kid says "I know you don't cook; parent & aunt *told* me!" But otherwise...*passes the snacks*
fox: my left eye.  "ceci n'est pas une fox." (Default)

[personal profile] fox 2017-05-23 01:37 pm (UTC)(link)
When I was about six, a decent-sized fuss was made about my dad turning 35. Meanwhile, my grandmother always ostentatiously claimed to be 29. Turns out six is when I worked out (probably because my dad's age had never been a subject of conversation before) that this did not compute. I sensibly asked my mother how it could possibly be that Grandma was 29 if Daddy was 35, and my mother sensibly said "Your grandmother is not telling the truth. Sometimes ladies pretend about their age. It's silly. But you mustn't tell her you know it's not true, okay?" And I think I kept it under my hat, the fact that I knew the truth, until I was a teenager and my grandmother made a big party for her 65th birthday and I was able to say "Wow, Grandma, from 29 to 65 in one year?"

... Anyway. I too would warn Grandma in this instance. There's no stopping an 11-year-old who believes she Knows What Is Right, so the real kindness is to soften the ground a little bit so her words don't hurt her grandmother as much.
adrian_turtle: (Default)

[personal profile] adrian_turtle 2017-05-23 02:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Wait. Why is it a lie to say grandma's potatoes tasted good? They were her potatoes, if she bought them and served them. They might have tasted good. You thank her for the hospitality, not for the cooking. I don't see how there's any dishonesty involved at all.

Fox's example is different. When a woman of 35 says she's 29, it's a lie. She's saying she wants people to believe she's 29. When a woman of 55 says she's 29, it's a joke. She's saying she doesn't want to tell people how old she is.

My favorite example of this was, "Yes, we're twins. But a few years ago, I started aging backwards while she went on aging forwards. So she might be turning 40, but I'm definitely not."
jadelennox: Judith Martin/Miss Manners looking ladylike: it's not about forks  (judith martin:forks)

[personal profile] jadelennox 2017-05-23 06:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Wait. Why is it a lie to say grandma's potatoes tasted good? They were her potatoes, if she bought them and served them.

yes! She is hosting, she selected good food, she served it to people. I've been invited to dinner at the home of friends who don't cook, and they bring in take out, which I know, because you go into the kitchen to get drinks. And it has never once occurred to me to say "this food is delicious even though I know you didn't cook it."
sathari: Forceghost!Anakin (Default)

[personal profile] sathari 2017-05-24 06:01 am (UTC)(link)
Why is it a lie to say grandma's potatoes tasted good?

Maybe I'm being overly literal, but I think it's possible that kiddo thinks that if Mom and Aunt will lie about whether Grandma cooked the dinner in the first place, then she has no way to know what else they lied about? Including but not limited to whether they liked that food.