“It’s Okay” but Is It Really?

Friday , 18, January 2013 11 Comments

I would like to share with you one of the single most irritating things I encounter as a mom.  I  have my suspicions that I am not alone.  I also have to confess that I am not innocent in doing the exact same thing to other moms.  I think we just don’t give it much thought.  It’s an innocent thing we say but with profound repercussions.  Once I became aware of how much these little words affected my daughter’s behavior, I learned to keep my mouth shut!

As you may have gathered from the title, “it’s okay” is what I am talking about!  Such an innocent phrase. Think about it,  you have probably done this to someone at the park or in the store.  Most likely today or at least this week.  I think it’s something we are conditioned to say as Mommas.  But how helpful is it exactly?

Let me explain.  Wild child decided she wanted to push the cart in the grocery store the other day.  All by herself.  I wasn’t even allowed to lay a finger on the cart to help.  It wasn’t crowded so I gave her some space to display her independence.  Right up until this sweet lady stepped out of  the end of the aisle and Riley almost ran her over!  I grabbed the cart and said “Riley, be careful honey, you need to watch out  for other people.”  And out blurt those infamous words “oh, it’s okay!”  But is it really?

I think no, absolutely not.  At that point I had not apologized to the lady.  She took it upon herself to interject as I was parenting my child.  This didn’t bother me when she was little.  But now, give that kid an inch and she takes a mile.  She is the greatest example of a strong willed child that I have ever met.  So as she has gotten older, it started to undermine my authority.  She became very bold and defiant in public.  I started reminding her that mommy and daddy were the ones who had the final say.  Slowly but surely we regained control and I gained some perspective.

I think as mothers we try and ease the discomfort or embarrassment of other mothers.  So we are quick to jump in and tell others that their  children’s behavior is “okay.”  We want them to know that we understand, or we were not truly bothered by whatever  it is their child is doing.  We also don’t want to be the cause of discipline for the child.  Clearly they are not giving any thought to the message it conveys to the child.  I wasn’t either.  I still catch myself doing this and remind myself to keep my mouth shut.  If Mom says not to snatch toys, then it isn’t okay even if the other mom doesn’t feel like her child was harmed or effected!  Think about how it makes the mother look in the eyes of the child.  Let’s not make it  harder on each other!

Have you ever unintentionally interfered while a momma was parenting her  child?  Have you ever uttered “it’s okay?”

I would love to hear your  experiences!  I know I am not alone here!

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  • Tiffany says:

    Thank you! I have thought the same thing for awhile, although I know I am guilty of doing the same thing just trying to be polite but wishing I hadn’t afterwards. But, like you, I have a super strong willed child who questions me on everything. Even family members say “it’s okay” or “it was an accident” before I am finished dealing with my Ryleigh. Which has then led Ryleigh to tell me she doesn’t have to apologize because “they said it was okay” or “but it was an accident”. As a mother, I really don’t care if it was an accident or not, I want my child to apologize and then if it really was an accident I can take the lead about how I know she didn’t mean to do it, but things happen & we STILL need to apologize.

    • Liz says:

      Thanks for the response Tiffany! I am glad you can relate to where I am coming from and I admit I am also guilty of this. Since this post I have found myself lacking in a response and a heightened awareness of this peculiar social phenomenon. I observed it several times today at the park!

  • Rachel says:

    I am guilty of the ‘Its okay’! Any suggestions of what would be appropriate instead? I do usually use the ‘its okay’ because I feel for the mom, not because I truly think her child’s actions are ‘okay’, but it is pretty awkward to not say anything at all….hmmm

  • Wendy says:

    Maybe what we need to be saying is “I understand……” We`ve all been in this situation and on both sides of it. If we stop and let the other mom know that we understand and empathize, we could.help empower the mom to correct the child and just give them a pass.

  • Julie says:

    I’m certainly guilty of this myself!

  • Jamie Wyatt says:

    I agree with Wendy, what we mean is what Liz said in her post, “We understand.”

  • Andrea says:

    I don’t think if someone says it’s okay they are trying to interfere with your parenting. Would you rather they stand there while you explain to your child what they did wrong, waiting for you to finish? Or just walk away and say nothing? I think it is a tough line but I think as a parent you need to expect this will happen and just parent as best you can.

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Andrea. While I see your point, I often do have them stand there while I briefly instruct my child on why the actions or words were not appropriate. I have never had someone walk away. Fortunately she doesn’t put me in this position too often. She is a very well behaved and intelligent child. A simple explaination in the moment works best for her. She likes to know why and why not, right then. A quality she and I share.

      I do expect that this will happen and it still does frequently. I know that it is not something I will ever be rid of as a parent. I don’t think any of us will. I still take the time to stop and parent and explain to her that it is not okay even if someone says it is.

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