Ever feel like a compliment wasn't entirely genuine? I mean, we've all been there. We've all awkwardly tried to figure out if we're being overly sensitive or if a comment was, indeed, a jab. In fact, when I listened to moms reveal the most backhanded compliment they've ever heard about their parenting, I realized these barbed statements can come from a variety of sources and be presented in a variety of ways. Whether it's friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and even relatives, it appears as though anyone can be guilty of disguising an insult as praise.
My toddler is a very active, rambunctious boy, and I am totally fine with that because, well, he's a toddler. "Active" and "rambunctious" come with the toddler territory. However, some people have met him only to turn to me and say things like, "Wow, he's a bit of a handful" or, "Well you must be tired." Every time I hear those comments I cringe. They're the worst, because they honestly make me question my child's totally normal, age-appropriate behavior. They also make me feel like I am failing as a mom which is, of course, the last thing any mother needs to feel. Ever.
Sometimes people just say things without thinking and they're really not trying to hurt you at all. Other times their comments are passive aggressive and stems from their own insecurity. Of course, sometimes people are just jerks and are probably reacting to a bad day, week, or even month. Whatever the motivation behind a backhanded compliment, it can still sting and still take a while to get over. After all, these moms vividly remember the worst so-called compliment they ever received:
"After the birth of my son, my mother said, 'You look better with more fat on you.' I wasn't sure how to take that!"
"A woman I used to work with smiled at my son and then said, 'Boys are little sh*ts, right?' Whoa! That was unexpected."
"I told a woman at our playgroup that I was weaning my baby from the breast and she said, 'You did a good job, I guess it's too much like hard work for some people.' Hmm."
"I heard this from another mom: 'Oh, that tastes great, you know, for store bought.' That was the last time I made her dinner."
"I use cloth diapers on my baby, and my boss said, 'I really respect your commitment to the environment, but doesn't your house smell?' Umm, no."
"I was hospitalized after the birth of my baby. My doctor told me I had recovered well 'for a women of my age.' I was not impressed."
"I was thinking about joining a dating site and my mom told me I was 'so brave.' There was just something about the way she said it that didn't sound much like a compliment."
"I had just finished having sex with my husband when he turned to me and said, 'It's still pretty good, even after three kids.' He slept on the couch."
"When I got pregnant my best friend said, 'Wow, your boobs are huge but don't get used to them!' Ouch."
"I constantly get, "I don't know how you do it all' comments from people at work. No one says this to the dads. I quickly realized it's not a compliment, it's a judgment."
"My son sees a lot of health professionals on a weekly basis, and his nutritionist told me, 'If you follow this eating plan the whole family will look and feel better.' Then the nutritionist gave me a long, hard stare."
"I was going to a wedding and had dressed up, wearing makeup and a cute dress. My 4-year-old son took one look at me and said, 'Why aren't you pretty every day?' I cried in the car."