Terms of Endearment

I’ve never been a “treat others like you would like to be treated” kind of person as a way to respect people. I do understand that it’s more complex than that and a lot of times it is best and more respectful to “treat others like they would like to be treated.” That’s especially true with your words. Sometimes, without meaning to, you can hurt with how you refer to people. Those times, it’s always better to treat others like they would like to be treated.

I’ve always been extremely offended by the word Oriental when referring to an Asian person. The biggest defense is either “I didn’t mean to offend you” or “such and such Asian person isn’t offended.” Quite frankly, that doesn’t matter.  If you hurt and are disrespectful with your words, what matters is not your intention but how you made the other person feel.  My feelings on the best course of action in these situations is always to correct your language and from then on continue to use a more appropriate language.

Going through an adoption is extremely emotional and personal for all parts of the adoption triad. Just like my Oriental example, there are terms that are more respectful to use and things that shouldn’t be said. I’d like to thank the two bloggers who commented and pointed out when I used terms that were not respectful (and I also thank you both for saying that to me in a respectful way). In fact, I’m going to do more research on adoption language. I’ve already tried tonight to begin looking some things up, in terms of how people expect to be treated especially in regards to the language that we use, mostly on Adoptee blogs and Firstmom blogs. I don’t know it all. I certainly have a lot to learn and I have always understood that. I’m going back and changing my previous post to reflect new language and I hope that that helps as I continue to try to use a new and hopefully more respectful language.

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3 responses to “Terms of Endearment

  1. It is challenging to learn all the appropriate words, but I agree, it’s important to try. I’m sort of thankful my kids were born overseas because it’s easy enough to say “Vietnamese Mom” which is both respectful and clearly explains who she is without stepping on toes.

  2. I can’t believe that people even say Oriental. I try really hard to use “appropriate” language but then sometimes I just think that people are overly sensitive. People can be SO politically correct that it’s just insane. It’s important to be smart and use common sense but it’s also ok to use your own judgment. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

  3. I agree with Nicole that it’s important to use common sense and be smart about all the “correct” language and what to use/not use. The thing that gets me about all the “correctness” is that what is considered sensitive and correct today will be considered rude and insensitive in five or 10 years, and as the terms go on their gradual journey from correctness to offensiveness, one will never know who will be offended by them and who won’t, and what should be used instead. For example, when we first entered the world of adoption we were told that the term “natural mother” was “wrong” becuase it implies that adoptive parents are unnatural; but now if you read certain birth mother blogs (yes, they have relinquished the children already) they use the term “natural” all over the place. So, who is right? And why? And how do you know who will be offended by “natural mother” and who won’t? How do you know who will be offended by “birth mother” and who won’t? Really, I think the majority of our society just needs to take a pill and a huge step back before choosing to be offended when no offense was intended. Sorry to go on and on, but this subject has been one of my biggest pet peeves ever since we adopted our son. I agree that we should treat others the way they would want to be treated, but when the rules are constantly changing, how can we know? How can we keep up? How do we know who is playing by which rules? And who gets to change the rules anyway? If somebody else can dictate that something is or isn’t offensive, why can I not do the same? Generally, I think it’s pretty obvious when someone is trying to be offensive, so why not give them the benefit of the doubt when it’s obvious that they aren’t? All this to say: I wouldn’t have edited the original post if I were you. You weren’t trying to be offensive.

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