Disrespect vs. Honesty

I think there’s a fine line between disrespect and honesty. Where that line falls, is largely cultural, and of course, individual. Some of us draw very clear lines about this, and some of us don’t get too upset until someone right out insults us.

When is being honest disrespectful? And how easily honesty can be read as disrespect, and disrespect touted as honesty?

With this being the case, how does that translate when our kids are learning about these concepts? “He’s fat” is honest, with  no disrespect intended by the kids. Yet, one can easily see how this would offend.

“You’re wrong mommy.” How about that? Disrespectful or honest?

“I don’t like your hair like that.” “You can’t have my toy!”

The list goes on and on.

How do kids learn about the difference between the two? Both in school, and out of it? And how does that translate into adulthood?

I know, that a lot of my decision making on who my friends are is determined by how closely their view of disrespect vs. honesty resembles mine. I am the most comfortable around people who are honest while at the same time being respectful. I have a hard time with people who are so honest that nothing’s sacred, or so respectful that they never say anything from the heart or make mistakes. But if I had to choose between those two extremes, I would choose the respectful. Tactful. Empathetic.

What about our kids? Do they all have individual comfort zones? And what if one child in a family has a comfort zone that doesn’t jibe with the comfort zone of another family member? Especially in teen years.

What do you al think?

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2 Responses to “Disrespect vs. Honesty”

  1. momlovesbeingathome Says:

    Great post and great thoughts! This is one thing I’ve had trouble with too. I hate lying but I would almost rather lie than say something hurtful to someone. So what’s a person to do?? I had a friend in high school that would say things sometimes that were just rude or disprespectful and then say she was only being honest. I don’t buy that. Nobody should go around saying hurtful things all in the name of honesty.

    I think one thing to think about is whether it’s a fact or an opinion. Sharing a negative opinion with someone about the way they look or what they’re wearing or something like that is just disrespectful – especially if unasked. If asked for an opinion that will cause a person to give a negative answer the best thing to do is change the subject, draw their attention to something else, or answer in a truthful, tactful way. 🙂 If the comment is going to hurt someone’s feelings then just keep the comment unspoken – don’t say it and then say it’s just honesty. I’m not sure if I’m making any sense here. 🙂

    As you said, there is a fine line and sometimes that makes it hard to teach our kids where that line is. As anyone with kids knows, they will learn by example and mimic what we do so we just need to make sure we are a good example in this area.

    Sorry for rambling! 🙂

  2. Anna Says:

    This is one of my favorite lessons from when I was studying Judaism. The truth should not be used to hurt someone. If you are getting ready to leave the house for a party, and your spouse, dressed poorly, asks how he looks, you should tell him the truth. The can spare him the possibility of looking foolish in front of others. He can change clothes at that point. If your spouse MEETS you at the party, dressed poorly, and asks how he looks, tell him he looks fine. He cannot change anything at that moment, and a negative comment would make him self-conscious and ruin his fun.

    One of the guides that I use for my five year old is: Does that comment help or hurt?


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