A UK mum was going about her business when an encounter with another parent stopped her in her tracks.
Writing on the forum Mumsnet, the confused mum was keen to find out what others thought about the exchange, noting she found this “quite sad”.
Apparently, the mum was waiting for her order outside a busy cafe, with her baby daughter in her pram. A man walked up carrying his toddler, sparking up a conversation by saying his little girl wanted to “look at the baby”.
Introductions were made, and she chatted to the toddler, saying “hello lovely, aren’t you gorgeous!”
“Language like that ruins them”
It was at this point that things went pear-shaped.
“The man looked me sternly in the eyes,” the Mumsnet user wrote “and said, ‘oh no, don’t tell her that, language like that ruins them!'”
The gobsmacked mum wondered “[am I being unreasonable] to find this quite sad?”
She noted she had plenty of experience with small children, but had never encountered this school of thought before.
“I work with children, I have lots of friends with children. I often use language like this,” she admitted. “This is the first time I’ve come across this kind of attitude and I must admit I thought he was joking and laughed in his face.”
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It’s likely that the man had good reason for pulling this mum up over her use of the word “gorgeous” as more and more parents seek to praise their daughters’ character and behaviour, rather than the way they look. Whether it’s appropriate to correct a complete stranger’s well-intentioned compliment, is a much curlier question.
Mumsnet users all had their own opinions, and were not backwards in coming forward and their opinions were varied.
“My parents never mentioned my appearance when I was growing up – I suspect for these reasons,” one posted. “It meant I was an absolute SLAVE to anyone who told me I was pretty!”
“I do understand the point of discouraging using ‘pretty’ ‘gorgeous’ etc around girls (because girls are more likely to get comments about looks, boys about character),” another wrote. “But I would never take a kind stranger to task about it! a) the baby’s tiny and isn’t going to know and b) it’s just rather rude to someone who means well.”
“Check yourself next time you say hello to a little girl”
Another mum had a brilliant and personal take and it’s really worth considering …
“I have two boys and two girls. The FIRST thing every single person says to my girls when they walk in the door is about how they look and what they are wearing, that their hair looks lovely. That is completely different to my sons. They get ‘hey buddy, wow you’re strong. What are you making. You’re so big.’ Blah blah blah. So now my little impressionable girls preen and twirl at the age of 2 and 3 and show off their fucking clothes and my boys say ‘look at me’ as they jump off a chair and do a ninja roll. Just check yourself the next time you say hello to a little girl. What’s the next thing you say? Ask yourself that.”
Ask yourself that, indeed! Food. For. Thought.