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Teach your children well.

On the day we went to Sea World the girl was tired.

We all were.

As we walked into the park two girls pushed past us hurriedly

and into the bathroom, which is where we were headed too.

We took our place right behind them.

It would have been fine

except that those two little girls then turned around and made loud comments about Ivy’s ‘fat’ face

and her ‘fat’ cheeks

and her ‘squishy eyes’ (whatever those are anyway).

Then they proceeded to whisper and look back at Ivy in that hateful little girl way that makes me want to stab something.

Ivy became very distressed and asked me what was wrong with her face

and I felt the anger rising inside me like a volcano.

I wanted to shake those two little girls, who might have only been eight or nine, to look at them.

I wanted to scream at them that  my girl was more beautiful than either of them,

that they had no idea what she deals with on a daily basis and they should count their lucky stars.

That she may grow and one day lose her little round face

but their behaviour would always be ugly

because of their shameful attitudes towards other human beings.

I didn’t.

Instead I cuddled the girl and told her she was lovely.

She didn’t believe me,

marred by the hand of her peers

but together we muddled through.

Those girls (and many more like them) were just plain mean

and I wanted to eat them up alive.

What stopped me was the example that I would have shown to my own children.

If I had have reacted without grace

I would not be teaching my children to be graceful.

 

The thing is, those girls were not born as spiteful, judgmental creatures.

They have been taught and molded into thinking that their behaviour is okay.

By who?

Their parents, I assumed

and of course, I was all kind of angry with their not-to-be-found care givers

but again, it wasn’t my place and it wasn’t right to seek them out to ¬†abuse them.

I don’t know that family’s story.

I don’t know of their struggles or their lifestyle.

I should never presume to know anyone else’s circumstances.

My girl, she was hurting though

and I was hurting too.

Hurting for her and for the little girl I once was, who endured that kind of behaviour too.

From a mother, who truly tries to teach her children that each person is special and has something unique and important to offer the world,

I implore you

please teach your children well.

If not, so they can see that people come in all shapes and sizes

and that there is no place for judgement of another person’s appearance in this world,

(I mean are any one of us really perfect? Is there even such a thing?)

then to protect the people who cannot protect themselves.

For those who, through no fault of their own,

are viewed as a little different.

By teaching your children acceptance

you are giving others the one thing they crave most of all;

inclusion.

Think about if it were your child.

Wouldn’t you want that for them?

 

*edited to add: I’ve changed the post so that I am clearer about what I was judging. It wasn’t their appearance at all. In fact, I can’t even remember what they looked like. I did judge their behaviour and I will stand by that. I apologise if I came across as being judgemental towards another person’s appearance. That was never my intention and yes, the pot calling the kettle black.

 

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49 Responses to “Teach your children well.”

  • Sarah (7 comments.):

    What is it with little girls being allowed to behave that way? It’s horrible.

    While we were in QLD our little guys had a very swollen red & scabby face due to a svere allergy just days before. The stares were horrible & after one day of it he said he was ugly & everyone thought he was because they were staring. What a horrible thing for a 6 year old to think because of others behaviour.

    We try to teach ours acceptance as well, my son thinks wheelchairs are cool because people can go fast in them even if their heart is sore or their legs don’t work well. I think it’s definitely in the way you teach them :)

  • Carrie:

    It’s so sad that this is the world we live in. I can get so fed up with the worlds concept of beauty sometimes. Ivy is an absolutely beautiful girl with a beautiful heart to match. I hope those girls one day learn to view people with a loving spirit.
    I admire you for your stance on this !

  • Veronica (703 comments.):

    Yes. And sometimes, I really love that Amy cannot see people’s differences in a big way. She accepts that people are people and some people are in wheelchairs because their legs don’t work and that everyone looks different. And I HOPE beyond hope that I can teach her to hold onto that, that everyone is beautiful and has something to offer.

    I might fail miserably, but it won’t be for lack of trying.

  • Rosie T:

    Big lessons for young children to learn about acceptance and kindness towards others. Shame that some also have to learn to deal with thoughtless and hurtful words and actions from others. Love and hugs xoxox

  • Julia:

    That bought tears streaming down my face. My 3yo, youngest of my four daughters, has Down syndrome. At the moment, what she doesn’t know, doesn’t hurt her, but my eldest, my 8yo, was told by a grade 6 boy at her school, who she doesn’t’ even know, the other day, that her sister was a “retard”. Nice. Boys like him, kids like him, parents like theirs, are the reason that I have decided to send my girl to a special school where she won’t know such meanness, where she will have a place among people who will accept her. I couldn’t bear the alternative. I am sorry for you, and Ivy, who is most definitely more beautiful inside than these girls will ever be.

  • Sam:

    Comment removed at the request of the author.

  • Karan:

    Stuff graceful….I would have gone ape-shit and made them take me to their parents so i could have a piece of them on how shitty their kids were for being rude little ferals. Sick of these little brats not being held accountable. Horrible little turds!

    There are no words to describe how lovely Ivy is. She’s a superhero.

  • Tiff (118 comments.):

    Fair enough, Sam. Thanks for your point of view.

  • Sam:

    I really do apologise for the harsh tone of my post, I should have reread it and toned it down.

    Sam

  • Nicole (8 comments.):

    I think that you were referring to their actions as being ugly, and not them personally, there is no excuse for children speaking like that, children do learn by example, it may be their parents or other children at school, but I know when my boy comes home with an attitude I know I haven’t taught him I am quick to correct his speech or behaviour, it is a shame their parents were not there to correct them.

  • Deb @ Bright & Precious (32 comments.):

    I don’t think you were being judgmental. I understood it to be that you were trying to express how hurt you were for your daughter. You acknowledged that you didn’t know the girls’ backgrounds. But it’s still okay to acknowledge the hurt you felt. I don’t think we have to be so precious that we can’t express our hurt about things. This is your space, after all. Good on you Tiff. And I feel for you and Ivy on that day.

  • Karan:

    It didnt read as judgemental…ugly as in their demenor not looks. Why has the world gone so politically correct? It drives me nuts. Its more than ok to speak your mind and especially in defence of your child and those who try to break her spirit

  • Jodie:

    I read it as the girls behaviour was ugly , so that made them ugly, not their appearance.
    I can see how Sam took it that way though.

  • Kathy (88 comments.):

    Oh, what a thing for her to have to hear. *is terribly sad for Ivy*

    On the judgement thing – I actually think you ARE judging, but you are judging the *behaviour* you saw. You carefully and conscientiously distinguish that from the person and character of the children themselves. Surely judging behaviour and actions is a necessary and desirable thing for humans to do? We’re not saying that all behaviour is equally OK now, are we? Or that anger at hurtful and damaging behaviour is an inappropriate response? That seems to me to be taking moral relativism just a bit too far.

    I think you did absolutely the right thing and I completely understand your hurt and anger, which I’d have felt (and expressed) too. And unlike other commenters, I think you did right not to confront the girls. A strange adult accosting two children without a guardian present is almost always a recipe for trouble, the power imbalance between children and adults being as it is, and parents being potentially very sensitive to it (as many are).

  • Sam:

    There was a line in this post when it was originally added that said “the girls were ugly inside and out” which looks to have been edited by Tiff.

  • Jodie:

    yes there was that line and i still took as their behaviour.

  • Tiff (118 comments.):

    Sam,

    I apologise if I offended you. It was not my intention to be judgmental myself. I am the last person to have any right to be that way inclined.
    I have edited the post and I have put a disclaimer at the bottom.

    Tiff

  • Sam:

    Tiff,

    I wasn’t offend – I am so sorry if I upset or distressed you in any way, that was not my intention.

    Sam

  • Maxabella (12 comments.):

    Awful, just awful. I have tears here for Ivy. I can’t believe that such nastiness has marred her darling life.

    I always say something to those kinds of little girls. I say the same thing every time: I would rather be X than nasty.

    x

  • Sam:

    Tiff,

    Could you please remove my original post – I feel now it has all be sorted it might cause arguments not relevant to this post.

    Once again I am sorry and I do believe you did the right thing by not saying anything to the girls.

  • Donna @ NappyDaze (6 comments.):

    You have nothing to apologise for- I’d have written every word as you did. Every mother would have felt as you did in that situation. I think you did your daughter proud xx

  • Maxabella (12 comments.):

    PS – just read through the comments, Tiff. I think everyone knew what you meant and no offense was taken by most. I am a bit over everyone talking about not ‘judging’ others. I don’t think we need to consider the backgrounds and life experience of people – children or adult – who are just plain nasty to others before we call it. I’m always sorry to hear when others have a tough time, but there is absolutely no excuse to take that out on others.

    Anyway, I kinda digressed away from your post for a minute there… but it’s just ridiculous what people seem to think is okay! x

  • Yvette Vignando (6 comments.):

    Love this post Tiff – you are so compassionate and restrained about other children – your children will grow up to be amazing adults having learned your approach and open mindedness about others x

  • pixie (213 comments.):

    knowing Tiff well…….as I do .so I *can* speak from experience………she loves all of her children fiercely…….all 8 of them…and I think she showed great restraint with those girls.

    sadly people will always judge not matter how people look or behave……my girls get judged for being too tall,too short,too skinny,too clever.

    Ivy IS a beautiful child both inside and out as are the rest of Tiffs gorgeous crew.

    I hope those girls will grow up a bit and see the error in their ways.

  • Miss Ash Tuesday (89 comments.):

    Little girls can be about the more horrid creatures around.

    When my Girlchild was… I guess six years old, she had some older girls that were picking her up like a doll and then whispering about me (her step mom). It was catty, and infuriating.

    I suppose that the best thing to do in that situation is to parent them– as clearly they’re not getting the parenting that they deserve. And if my kids acted like that, I would have to say something like, “I’m sorry, but are you forgetting your manners? And how about some kindness, while we’re at it. You should practice so that you don’t grow up to be unliked.”
    Hehehe.

  • Skye:

    In the ideal world, that moment – there and then – would have been the perfect opportunity to gently educate those two young girls. I’m the last person to speak of thinking quickly on her feet – but what a positive and growing moment for them, if they were to learn and understand the reason why Ivy’s face was that beautiful. Because it is; she is gorgeous. A little of Ivy’s and your own unconditional love and compassion may have even rubbed off. We could only hope. xx

  • Suz (7 comments.):

    I know that feeling Tiff when the Batsman’s occasionally odd autism behaviour draws attention. I feel like a lion when I get even a whiff of any bad behaviour towards him. Sending so much love to you and all your crew, Suz xxx

  • Mum:

    You had every right to judge such inappropriate & “bitchy” behaviour from those two girls, especially at the young age they appeared to be and also to wonder where such learned behaviour originated. Whether they learned by parent’s or peer’s example that this kind of behaviour is acceptable, you are to be applauded for the grace you’ve taught your kids through your example. Sometimes moral judgement is necessary, though, and in this case your kids and especially Ivy, need to know how you really felt about it and why you handled the situation the way you did. I’m sure it would have been a hard lesson for them because it is only human & natural to judge when they would have been feeling indignant & hurting for Ivy,too. xoxo

  • Leah - Bogue Living (18 comments.):

    We had a discussion after school assembly today about one boy being teased for his “babyish” snack and we all agreed that our first impulse is, over the top of this innocent childish bun to have our kid tell the teaser F&^% OFF! Obviously not the solution!! Even as adults we have inappropriate social impulses, it doesn’t make it right, and so whether those little girls have seen that behaviour modelled or just haven’t had some rough corners knocked off yet, it’s not ok.

    I agree with Miss Ash Tuesday, if it happens again, it might be good for you and Ivy and the other children to have it said out loud that those words are both hurtful and rude. It’s not a perfect solution, I did it a few months ago when a big little girl had upset my little little boy, telling him not to do something then doing it herself and then tied myself up in knots about it and had to blog about it to expunge. It is just a shitty occurrence, nothing is going to make it right – but I know If my daughter, who is around that age, participated in such a conversation where I couldn’t overhear it, I would be very glad if she was confronted about it, so she doesn’t think that if she’s out of earshot of a teacher or parents etc, she has free reign. Why should it just sting you and Ivy and they get to walk away from it emotionally untouched?

  • Sam:

    Mum, do we really want to teach our children “an eye for an eye” – I know I don’t, just because someone calls Ivy names doesn’t mean you should turn around and do the same back to them especially when your an adult speaking about kids and really should know better.

  • Tiny table (1 comments.):

    Grace is so necessary but SO hard sometimes. I gave my little girl the middle name Grace in the hopes she has some, especially in those awkward school years. My heart aches for your Ivy. She IS lovely, and so is her mama.

  • Karan:

    Rotfl…sam….now you are going to criticise her mother………step away from the keyboard and practice what you preach

  • Mum:

    Sam, did I really advocate an “eye for an eye” in my comment???? I think not! Just saying that there is JUSTIFICATION in FEELING judgemental towards those who deign to judge, does not necessarily mean advocating judgement in return!

  • Sarah (Maya_Abeille) (1 comments.):

    Hi Tiff,
    I agree with Yvette, you set an amazing example for all your kids and they will see this and feel amazing in the love you show them. We can’t protect our kids from every awful thing that happens to them, but we can show them how to respond with grace and reassure them that they are wonderful and gorgeous just as they are. It is the unfairness of life that some kids seem to have more inbuilt confidence than others, some cop it worse than others and have their confidence chipped away by other nasty kids, by illness, by setbacks, but you can only do what is within your power to do – and that is what you are doing so wonderfully well.

    I don’t think there is a person alive who has not felt the brunt of a nasty comment and had it sting in their ears forever. As you said, none of us is perfect and the best thing we can do is derive our self esteem from knowing who we are, rather than relying on validation from others. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt. Something I read a while ago from Brene Brown about raising kids: (I’m paraphrasing) so many parents see their kids as perfect when they’re born, and want to keep them that way and make everything around them perfect for them. But human beings are imperfect, and are wired for struggle. We can’t stop all the awful things in the world from happening to them, but that we can love them as much love as we possibly can, and hope that it carries them through. There’s really nothing else we can do – we can’t control the world and make it perfect for them, as much as we would like to! (I totally understand this urge and I’m betting every other parent does too)
    xx

  • Dianne:

    That is horrible and so sad that Ivy heard those comments. I am a preschool teacher and have found that children 5 and under are so accepting of difference they often don’t even appear to notice it. Those girls were very rude and you handled it very well Tiff, yes perhaps next time a polite comment directed there way may be appropriate. Sometimes however no matter how parents teach their children as they get older they do comment on differences and are judgemental. I was very shocked when I was told by a teacher that my six year old son and his friend in a disagreement with another boy had started teasing him because he was chubby. Sometimes children don’t have the maturity to understand the effects of what they are saying and often it is because they are insecure themselves and it seems to happen when they are with another child. Does not excuse those girls, lets hope they mature and gain greater awareness and acceptance. Ivy is a beautiful little girl inside and out and she is so lucky to have such a wonderful family.

  • Belinda (2 comments.):

    My heart goes out to you and Ivy. I think you did the right thing as hard as it is to do it. My li’l boy has facial palsy and I hope that when we get to the stage where other children notice and make comments on his lopsided smile that I can be as restrained as you and teach him acceptance and tolerance, no matter what he’s faced with. To reassure him that he’s amazing and beautiful despite of, and also because of, his difference.

  • Jayne (197 comments.):

    That behaviour of the children was plain ugly and it makes them ugly from the soul inside out.
    Piffle to others, I know you weren’t judging those children on their looks but on their comments and actions which makes them mean, cheap and ugly.
    Sure, you don’t know what they’ve been through but any decent parent would have taught them not to pass on any misery they themselves may have experienced.
    (((hugs)))

  • Tina ~ Tina Gray {dot} Me (10 comments.):

    Girls can be so nasty. I’m so sorry that Ivy had to hear that. You handled that MUCH better than I would have in your position, Tiff. xx

  • Carly Findlay (5 comments.):

    Tiff I know this experience all too well. As a child and now an adult. The other day I was told my face scared someone.
    Ivy is beautiful. These girls and their parents are not.
    I once had a girl in year 12, when I was in year 12, say that a boy I loved could never love me back because of the way I look,
    I told her ” she would never be beautiful because she is too f-ing ugly on the inside”. One of my proudest moments ever.
    When I achieve my dream of speaking in schools and community groups about acceptance and diversity of image, I’m going To change the world by changing mindsets of young people.
    Thanks for this post.
    Ivy is so cute.

  • Sharmaine Kruijver (1 comments.):

    Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a little while and I have to say that I love the way you 1. write your blog (because it is what drew me in to start with) and 2. the way you passionately love your family (because it is what made me want to continue reading your blog). The reason that i am commenting is to say that I am one of those Mums who tries really hard to bring up girls to be inclusive and it pains my heart when I see others that don’t. I try to teach my girls that they are different and different for a reason. They are different so that people can see someone different. They can see someone who loves and is loved. We try to teach our kids to be kind and nice and loving and then we send them out into a world that isn’t always kind and nice and loving. We do our best and hope that they do too. I admire you for writing this post. keep on loving your family so passionately and thank you for sharing.

  • Maid In Australia (4 comments.):

    It makes my heart break that parents are bringing up their kids this way. Poor Ivy EXCEPT what a beautiful mother she has. I’m not so sure I would have been as graceful as you were. Bless you xo

  • Lucinda (1 comments.):

    Beautiful post Tiff. I have to say I wouldn’t be quite so afraid to defend my child even those girls parents weren’t present. I’m not saying that it would have been appropriate to get angry, but I personally would have reminded them that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that they should always consider other people’s feelings before they speak. There are always going to be ignorant children and parents in the world, but I think you have every right as a parent to teach your Ivy that she doesn’t have to tolerate being bullied. Some may not agree, but I am not a believer in teaching children to ignore bullies. It rarely works. Aggression and bullying back is not good either, but sometimes a child just needs to know that it’s ok to stand up for themself and gain a bit of confidence. :)

  • Lisa:

    Please tell Miss Ivy that a Mommy and teacher in the US thinks she is the most beautiful little girl that she has ever seen! She has beautiful eyes and lovely cheeks and I adore her curly hair. Tell her some people feel bad about themselves and when they see someone as beautiful as our Miss Ivy, they say mean things to make themselves feel better, even though it doesn’t really work.

    I am sorry for your Mommy heart, but I know that every day you are telling all of your wonderful children how special and beautiful they are which is what makes you such a great mother.

    Lisa

  • Jackie:

    I might have suggested to Ivy that perhaps those little girls were looking at a mirror when they made those comments and saw how ugly they were on the inside to say such things about themselves.
    Tell Ivy that she is beautiful, like the rest of her family.

  • Kate:

    Yet again, you have inspired me beyond belief. You are an amazing person, mother, writer. I am a recent convert to your blog, and have pretty much stopped reading others because yours is so good, and it is such a gift to read your inspiring words and look at your gorgeous photos. What I love about your blog is the honesty. You and your beautiful family are examples of how good and wonderful humanity can be. The love you all feel for each other just flows outwards, and I always feel uplifted. Even when the posts are sad and worrying, for example when Ivy isn’t well, I feel like it’s such a blessing for Ivy to be surrounded by such gorgeous, loving people. Unfortunately the story you just told showcases how bad humanity can be, too. I can only imagine how hard it must be for both you and Ivy to have dealt with that situation, but I think what you said about grace, and the way that you are with your children, is such a good example. That was one very bad moment, but the love of a strong, connected family such as yours lasts a lifetime. I am not saying what I want to say very well, but I just want you to know we all think you’re amazing and thank you for sharing all your blog posts because their beauty and honesty is rare and important.

    And as for that beautiful Ivy… she must be one of the most gorgeous little girls in the world because I dream about cuddling her!! Honestly, her wonderful face lights up my life.

  • Sam:

    It really pains me to understand how children get like this. I was picked on as a child, and called “fat pizza” by one kid that was my brothers best friend. It hurts so much.

    Ivy you are a beautiful little lady and you are both beautiful inside and out. Who cares what these horrible little girls think. My nanny always referred to me as her googly doll and she made a ceramic mould of me. She has now passed away and I have inherited all the dolls which i treasure.

    I wish i could scoop you up in my arms and cuddle you and take your pain away.

    Keep doing things that make you happy my love, I know its hard to understand why people are so mean, and you will understand more as you get older.

    Keep your chin up. Hope your feeling better too soon :)

    Hugs and Kisses!

  • Marylin (173 comments.):

    Oh god… I’d have found it difficult to keep my mouth shut… but like you, I would have.
    Ivy is ten times the person those two girls are put together, and she is BEAUTIFUL!
    Everyone I know in Scotland says so! xxx

  • geekymummy (19 comments.):

    always and every day I try to teach my kids compassion. My own quite ordinary looking kid has recently come home from school saying that she was called ‘stupid and ugly’. I asked her how she felt and she told me “I feel stupid and ugly. I learned that this happened because I heard her use the words to someone else and I asked her if something had happned. Kidspass the pain on. Chances are those kids have been hurt by others. They internalize it, and to make it hurt them less they use it to hurt others. Teaching empathy, so important.

    Ivy is so lovely, by the way. I’m catching up on your blog after a busy
    few weeks and my breath is stolen by your words and pictures as always. You are such an amazing photographer and artist. Thinking of you and your gorgeous family

  • Annie (24 comments.):

    Tiff, you are a very thoughtful and compassionate person. I need to try to be more like you, I’m afraid my first reaction would not have been the way you handled this situation.

    As a sidenote: I really liked Sarah’s comment about not trying to keep our children’s world perfect, it’s more about teaching self-esteem and resilience. Definitely food for thought.

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