Childish behavior

I’m a mom and on some online mommies groups, and the other day I got pretty upset at one commenter who called someone’s behavior “childish.” The person in question acting “childish” was an adult who had apparently broken up with her 8-month pregnant friend after ruining her baby shower, and the commenter was using “childish” as a synonym for “selfish.”

Children can be selfish, and I’ll be one of the first to admit that. My husband sometimes says all children are little dictators. I think it has to do with the development of the thought process, and how, at a young age, a child doesn’t understand that there are other people with different points of view. Literally. I remember my psychology professor explaining this to my class back when I was a psych major. He said if you’re watching tv with your kid under a certain age, and you ask him to move because you can’t see the tv, the kid might move closer to the tv or in a way so that he gets a better view. Because the kid really doesn’t understand that you are not a part of him. Children have to be taught to see things from different points of view. Even television sets.

Despite understanding how selfish children can be, seeing the other mother (or mom to be) call an adult “childish” for the selfish behavior made me pretty upset. Maybe it was a bit of my pregnancy hormones talking, but I thought, how dare this woman, who came to this board for mothers and about parenting and children, use “childish” as a pejorative? I likened it to hate speech, as it reminded me of things I’ve heard racists say about how ____ people act like this. Or the use of Gyp or Jew as a verb. As in, “you Jewed me out of $50.” But is it acceptable, on a moms’ forum or not, to use the term “childish” to describe adults who are selfish?

How do you feel about using “childish” as an adjective to describe a negative personality trait? Am I being too sensitive?

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About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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2 Responses to Childish behavior

  1. spiegelmama says:

    I get it. Children are selfish because they are not fully formed. Once you’re an adult, you are just selfish because you’re a jerk. It’s possible you were overheated in your comments (didn’t read them), but you weren’t wrong about the central concept.

    • emmawolf says:

      Oh, I didn’t comment on there. Really, I’m not a huge fan of that forum. There are a lot of people there that say offensive things and it’s not even worth saying anything about it. I really only read things there to procrastinate. There are a couple of boards on that forum, some are good, some are not. This was found on one of the not good ones.

      Anyway, yes. Jerk v. not fully formed. And it just bothers me that these moms to be are using childish to mean something bad. That’s not the environment I want to make for my kids.

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