Yesterday I wrote about yet another "Enjoy every moment!", and I am still incredulous whenever I hear people saying that, when it seems so widely known that people go home and weep in despair after hearing it.
I will say, however, that at least it's a comment that's kindly meant. The person saying it might not be aware of how such a thing sounds from the point of view of someone in the trenches (HOW COULD THEY NOT? Did no one ever say it to THEM?), but they are TRYING to communicate good will and happy wishes. I think, if we reached, we could even spin it as a sort of blessing, rather than as an instruction: like, I WISH for you that you'd be able to enjoy every moment. Even though that's an unreasonable wish and can make a mother feel like she is failing in even more ways that she'd realized, it's still meant WELL. It's not meant to hurt feelings, or to cause the mother to feel like a failure, or to sound idiotic---even if it does all three of those things.
There is a lot to be said for meaning well, and in fact I think things should be said about it more often. Each situation needs to be evaluated individually, of course, but in general if the person talking to you has shining eyes and a happy face, or sad eyes and a caring face, or if it's a person who cares about you and doesn't generally try to hurt you, then they are most likely choosing what they think is a PLEASING thing to say, and that is a social inclination I'd rather encourage than repress. It would also be nice to encourage the inclination to assume positive things about what is meant, rather than leaping to the worst possible thing the person's words could be twisted to mean, so that a person who is trying hard to say the right thing now feels that there is nothing at all safe from horrible assumptions of bad intent, and that everyone is just waiting to LEAP on a misstep and punish it relentlessly.
Which is not to say people shouldn't try to improve their niceness-intended to niceness-received ratio. "But I was trying to be NICE!" is no justification for "You'd be so pretty, if you lost some weight" or "You're too thin!" Keeping our ears open (and using the "How would I feel if it were me?" centers of our brains) is how we learn not to say such things; for many things (especially those outside our own experience) it makes sense we'd need to have it explained, but we shouldn't need it explained twice: once we know that the received message is not what we're trying to send, of course we wouldn't want to keep sending it.
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...