On "talking to strangers" and manners

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Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 1:47 am
Please discuss.

Where is the line between safe and rude?
As an adult, if someone made a friendly comment, you would probably respond kindly.
At what age does that start? And how would kids taught not to talk to strangers somehow transition into not being cold and rude?

I got to thinking about this because of something that happened, though I think in that situation I and my kids didn't do anything wrong. It just made me think about the idea in general. I was walking with two kids and we stopped to look at an interesting window display in a store that was closed. A lady made a friendly comment, something like "isn't it lovely that they put this out every year" or something like that. I think I nodded or said "mhm" or something, there wasn't much to discuss. We don't know this person. We live in New York, not some cozy town where everyone could try to get along with everyone. She went on to make some increasingly nasty comments that made me happy I hadn't engaged with her in the first place (she walked on from the window, but threw back another comment every few steps: "what do you teach those kids?... not very well, I'm afraid... good thing you only have two." I'm sure she would have said something equally snide if I had more with me at the time!)
I'm perfectly fine with the fact that my kids did not choose to respond to this random stranger, but it did get me thinking about how to balance between "don't talk to strangers" and being polite.

As to the random rude lady, I wish I had thought more quickly because I would have told her that actually my kids are deaf Twisted Evil (they're not)
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Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 7:46 am
She was rude. I think it would've been ok for them to reapond because you're there with them. But small kids who are shy often freeze up and don't respond .
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Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 7:57 am
The lady was rude but it sounds like you were rude first. If someone was trying to be friendly, it won’t hurt to be friendly in return.
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Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 8:12 am
mommy3b2c wrote:
The lady was rude but it sounds like you were rude first. If someone was trying to be friendly, it won’t hurt to be friendly in return.

I have to agree with you. OP could have answered with the same type of comment.

I have seen times when normally friendly engagements with frum people and strangers turned hostile because of a lack of manners. It doesn't hurt to acknowledge a person spoke to you friendly.

One situation that makes me sad. An older chassidish man was struggling to get an air conditioner down in a big store. A younger non-Jewish male customer came and helped him. The older man didn't acknowledge his help. The younger man said if you you won't say thank you then f you. And he put the air conditioner back where it was.
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Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 8:39 am
mommy3b2c wrote:
The lady was rude but it sounds like you were rude first. If someone was trying to be friendly, it won’t hurt to be friendly in return.

I agree with this too. People make conversation with strangers all the time, you don’t have to live in a cozy little hick town for that to happen. You practically ignored her and that’s insulting to her. No one expects a lengthy discussion but a friendly comment back is basic manners and mentshlichkeit.
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Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 8:43 am
I disagree that it was rude not to engage with her. A smile and mhm should be sufficient.
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Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 8:46 am
Op I agree with the others that you could have been a little more responsive. She was evidently starting a conversation and the least you could have done was respond and agree with words, not undertones. If you would've done that I don't think she would've commented about your kids lack of response.

People often comment or start conversation with me especially when I am with my kids. My girls are very shy by nature (they don't get that from me) but I don't want people to think they are ill-mannered so I try to draw them in. It doesn't always work but at least people realise it's because they are shy; not rude and uneducated.
Eg. A woman passes us on shabbos and comments to my daughters 'aw your coats are lovely and you are so pretty'. My girls won't respond (even if it's someone they know, so most certainly not to a stranger: usually a non Jewish one). So I will say something like 'that is so kind of you, isn't it girls? Say thank you to the nice lady'
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Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 9:07 am
as the adult when with kids I answer
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Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 9:37 am
I heard this in a clip from Dr. Gilboa - tell your kids to be friendly and talk to adults if they are holding your hand. I think her line was "don't talk to an adult you don't know unless you are holding the hand of an adult you do know"
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