Recently, a friend shared this story over on the book of face
Today at <restaurant> while <child’s name> and I were eating a man started talking to <child’s name> about his stuffed animal.
Man: that’s an unusual dog. ( it’s a teddy bear)
Child: [looks at man. Does not respond]
Man: you aren’t gonna talk to me ??
Child: [looks away]
Me: no he isn’t .
A. You are a stranger . My son is not being “rude,” and there is no reason for him to discuss or chat with you .
B. We teach kids not to talk to strangers. Social niceties are not necessarily a good practice for kids
Bravo, I say!
But, of course, there was dissent, this is the internet, after all. One commenter lamented that it was “sad” that she was “creating unnecessary fear” in her child. Another tried to make the argument that it wasn’t a threatening situation. Another implied that she was teaching her son to be rude and disrespectful.
All because she supported her son’s choice not to speak to a stranger. This is insanity.
As a society, we’ve developed this warped idea that not nice=rude. There’s space between. He was not impolite, and he was not rude. He has absolutely no responsibility to be nice. He should be, and I assume he is, kind where warranted, but he doesn’t have to be nice.
No one has the responsibility to be nice. You do not have to speak to the stranger in the parking lot that just needs a bit of change, or gas money, or…Well, really that stranger just wanted to get close enough to grab your wallet or steal your car. Or worse.
Because of course you should be nice to the young man that wants to sit in on your Bible study.
Sure, she was right there. The risk potential of that situation was minimal, but what kind of lesson does that teach her child? If Mom encourages him to be nice to the stranger in the restaurant, how should he react to the stranger in the bathroom? As a parent, you have to think beyond the moment. You must model the skill set so your child can make appropriate decisions in the future.
My friend pointed out that later, her son approached the cashier and politely requested a refill of his beverage. This doesn’t sound like he’s being crushed by unnecessary fear of people. Instead, he is learning an appropriate level of caution.
Living in a polite society does not mean that you must be nice to strangers. Of course, one should not be rude, impolite, or unkind, but that does not mean you owe it to anyone to be nice.