About Me

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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


An internet friend recently wrote a blog about how hard it is for her to accept a compliment, or even more specifically, how hard it is for her to say "You're welcome" when somebody thanks her for something. (See "You're Welcome" at ipstenu.org.)

Her blog got me thinking -- certainly, many people (perhaps especially women) have a hard time accepting compliments graciously. As she wrote, it sometimes seems "more" polite to deflect the compliment -- "it was nothing" -- shrug it off, or say explicitly "you don't have to thank me".

This is particularly true when what you're being thanked for is something you do because you WANT to do it (in her case, being thanked in person by the celebrity she runs a fansite for). It feels unseemly to say "you're welcome" for doing something you really just love to do.

Though I totally identify with the tendency of shrug off compliments, I told her that I'd SO much rather "have" to say "you're welcome" than the gut-wrenching words, "I'm sorry".

Yeah, compliments are hard to take, especially if you *know* you get something out of the task anyway.

But having to apologize is so much worse.

Being able to do both is a sign of maturity and decency.

Ironically, people often apologize for things that they're NOT responsible for ("I'm so sorry it's raining"). Parents often apologize to their children when really, it's not such a good idea (I"m sorry I got so mad at you, but..."). Often, it's TOTALLY OK for a kid to know they got into trouble; parents don't need to apologize for being righteously angry! In fact, by apologizing when we shouldn't we give the dangerous message to our kids that we're not sure if we're doing the right thing. And -- writing from experience here -- those little buggers really know how to manipulate their parents' soft underbelly.

Never. Let. Them. See. You. Sweat.

That said, there's nothing quite as humiliating as having to apologize when you *know* that indeed, you really messed up.

I try to tell my kids that it's best to try to do the right thing, the first time, in order to avoid having to utter the words, "I'm sorry."

And I tell them that "You're welcome" is a gracious way to respond to two of the nicest words we ever get to hear: "Thank. YOU."


  1. Oooooh. "I'm sorry, but..." is my least favorite thing in the world. Saying or hearing that phrase gets my hackles raised for some reason. Probably becuase people use it like 'I don't mean to be an a**hole, but...' and I want to smack them. Yes, you do mean to be a jerk, and no, you're not sorry.

    That said, as someone who screws up often enough (cutting edge technology cuts you a lot of the time), I'm pretty used to and comfortable with apologizing when I screw up. And I don't have a hangup on that. I don't have 'kid' advice, though I recall my dad saying I was right, once or twice, and that he was wrong. The few times stuck out in my mind. Then again, Dad never treated me as a kid :)

  2. Kids will definitely hear the "I'm sorry, but..." as a way to excuse their own behavior. So, I try *never* to say it anymore.

    For the record, when I *do* mess up with the kids, I do apologize to them!

  3. Oh...and thank you for the comment. :)

  4. Elaine, I couldn't agree more. I was talking about this recently with some other women.

    Women in particular seem to have a harder time taking a compliment. So often I've heard back in reply something negative about themselves. I suppose it's partly our society's obsession with youth and vanity and unrealistic body images. It just saddens me so many amazing women put themselves down.

    I also once read something like, 'remember the compliments, forget the insults.' Wise words to me.


Politeness is always appreciated.