| Tempo: Second Guessing |

Gifted: Readers Join the Conversation

“Sorry, Shani, being in your ninth month is not an excuse to embarrass someone in public”
Last Week:

And so blame the fact that I’m about to give birth, but I absolutely lose it.

“Excuse me,” I blaze. “We were offered a gift, and we took it, very appreciatively. But we are people, and we are adults, and it is just rude to discuss our financial decisions with other people, and at the dinner table, no less.”

I ignore Chezky’s closed eyes and my siblings’ shocked faces and focus just on Uncle Shmuel.

“We appreciate your generosity, but you can’t treat us with zero respect,” I say coldly.

And then I leave the table for good, feeling like absolute garbage.

Uncle Shmuel gave us a tremendous gift, and I couldn’t just accept it with a nod and a smile.

Should I have swallowed my self-respect in the face of his generosity?


Not Worth It

B.T. Jerusalem, Israel

Oh, Shan,

How I feel your pain.

I, too, am a youngest surrounded by well-meaning siblings who think they’re my parents. So often the recipient of their kindness and generosity, yet forced to accept their unsolicited advice and critique as well.

I’m often torn: Is it worth it?

I still don’t know. We like nice things, we’re women who enjoy outfitting our children in the status quo, even if that status quo is far beyond our means. So if someone offers you the chance to have the things you see in magazines or in the park, it’s hard to say no.

But when the price is your self-respect, the dilemma gets a bit easier. Because almost nothing is worth being made small for.

You sound like a wonderful person, Shani, a good wife and mother, and no one else has the right to comment on the inner workings of your personal life.



L.T, Lower East Side, NY

Sorry, Shani,

I know you were frustrated and felt slighted, but you really should not have exploded at Uncle Shmuel like that.

As my grandmother used to say, “Whatever happens, be a lady.” That outburst was very unladylike. Not to mention a display of poor middos.

You really do need to apologize to Uncle Shmuel, and in the zechus, you should have a lot of hatzlachah.


Not in the Heat of the Moment

M.S. Brooklyn, NY

I really relate to Shan’s reaction and understand her feelings. What really got me thinking, though, is her final question. Should I have swallowed my self-respect?

No, Shan, you don’t have to swallow your self-respect and just take it sitting down. But is outright confrontation the only way to maintain self-respect?

Rather than debate the social acceptability of walking out on a family outing, I prefer to consider a more effective way to communicate even with difficult people, especially if they’re a close relative of yours.

When not in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to look back and see that there are far better ways to deal with this conflict.

For example, you can write Uncle Shmuel a letter or email afterward, stating your claim in a calm, respectful tone.

Of course, if you know he won’t respond well to that, you have to get creative with each situation to stand your ground while maintaining your dignity.


No Excuse

Molly S., Montreal

Sorry, Shani, being in your ninth month is not an excuse to embarrass someone in public. I’m not saying Uncle Shmuel did the right thing — he most definitely did not. But two wrongs don’t make a right, and you can’t excuse your outburst that way.

Say no thank you to his gifts next time. They don’t seem worth it.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 884)

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