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Why Can't Adults be as Honest as Children?

Updated on April 26, 2013
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This afternoon, I was walking down the hallway at the school in which I was substitute teaching. At that time of day, the hallway was quite empty, but I passed by a little girl I knew well from previous subbing jobs in this school. I said, "Hi Jenny, how are you doing?" She looked at me with a quizzical expression, coked her head a bit to one side, put her hand out in front of her, rocked it back and forth a bit and said, 'About in the middle." I was confused for a second, and my first thought was, 'In the middle of what?" Then I realized at a time when most adults would have said, "Fine, and you?" or maybe just a one word answer, this sweet little girl was being totally honest with me and answered how she truly felt...not good, not bad, but "about in the middle." I wondered why adults can't be the same way. Her honesty had me smiling for the rest of the day.

I once had an adult woman who was born in the South tell me that people in our Connecticut town were too honest. They tell others how they are really feeling when asked. She was brought up by a father who told her to never tell people how you really feel if you are having a bad day. She was supposed to just put on a happy face for the rest of the world, and not let them see if she was sad or having a bad day. She was supposed to hide her true feelings. Being born and raised in the North, I told her that seemed pretty phony to me and up here in the North we believe in being honest with others. So while some people, apparently like her, ask the question about how another person is doing, and apparently don't want to hear the real answer, there are those of us, being born in the North and I am sure in other places, that really want to know the truth. If I ask someone how they are feeling and they are having a bad day, I sincerely do want to know the truth, because maybe there is something I can say that will help them. I am sure there are plenty of adults who don't tell the truth because they think the person that is asking is just being nice. But there are those of us who ask and we really care so don't be afraid to open up like my friend Jenny and let the truth out. You may get a response that will help your day got from " about in the middle" to "pretty good."

Today I did not help my friend Jenny because what she said took me by surprise. But next time, I will be ready.

By the way, how are you feeling today?

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When People Ask How You Are Doing, Do You Tell Them The Truth?

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    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Karen, you raise a good question. I think adults have a fear of being judged by others, or maybe we don't want to discuss our lives with certain people and prefer to keep our emotions and feelings to ourselves. Maybe this is selfish of us, or maybe we're just being protective. Who knows? But, I do think there is a way to answer people honestly without lying about it though.

    • profile image

      Arline 4 years ago

      I found your North v. South point so interesting. One time a psychologist friend of mine ( from PA) told me that I had a harder time "opening up" about feelings *because* I was a New Englander! :) Children definitely tell it like they see it! They haven't yet picked up any of our adult privacy issues! ( must happen some time when they are teens!)

    • Karen Hellier profile image
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      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      Arline,

      Yes, I agree with you about kids telling it like it is. Too bad we have to lose that when we grow up. Most of us anyway. I was really surprised when that lady told me about what her father had taught her. I think that's a prevalent attitude down there. Just seems phoney and dishonest to me.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
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      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      Careermommy,

      I think a lot of adults feel people really don't want to know about how they are really doing, or are just putting on a front but I bet there are a lot of people that ask that question about how they are doing, and really do want to know...myself included! Thanks for commenting.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Parents have done such a good job to squelch the natural inclination of children to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It serves a purpose, of course, but then it seems like we have to spend a lifetime finding our true voice. Being writers, we get there faster than most. Just my bias, but I truly believe that. Thanks for writing about this thought-provoking subject, Karen.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
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      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      hawaiianodysseus,

      Good point. Thanks for reading and commenting. I always enjoy your responses.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I try to answer honestly when asked how I am doing. People don't really want to hear all the details of a dreadful day, so saying "okay" seems to cover it for most of us. I agree, children are much better at honestly sharing their feelings.

    • TCurtis Moore profile image

      TCurtis Moore 4 years ago

      Nice article. It's good to hear the truth. Sometimes it gets a little old if someone is always complaining about everything. There is a fine line between the two.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
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      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      TCurtis Moore,

      Yes, true but there are other ways to answer...like one could say they are excited about an upcoming vacation, or they are looking forward to lunch, etc.! Just a little variety that is true is surprising and nice. And a true answer like, "about in the middle" made me laugh all day long!

    • Karen Hellier profile image
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      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      teaches12345,

      Yes that's true. And I still laugh when I remember that little girl's answer..."about in the middle."

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