Ugh! I can’t believe that I got asked if I was “grandma” the other day while out shopping with my child!!
How should you handle this situation and what do you say?
Try not to lose your Cool!
First and foremost, it is super important not to get upset at the person talking to you. Unfortunately, in our society “being older” or “looking older” tends to be associated with being a grandparent (especially if you have a young child with you). And society views youth as being worth much more than allowing yourself to age gracefully.
If these types of age-related comments send you into a “rage” or just an unhappy place, you can just take a breath and smile. Be assured that this person looking at you has no idea how old you are and is merely making an assumption about your age based on your appearance. What people don’t realize is that sometimes we, as busy moms, don’t always have time to put on makeup, do our hair, pick out a flattering outfit or even do our skin care routine. Some days may involve lots of running around, dropping off kids & picking them up, music lessons, tutoring, sports, errands, shopping, etc. This doesn’t always allow time to make yourself look your best when you are trying to beat the clock.
Generally speaking this person in the store does not have the intention of making you feel bad or to ruin your day. Most likely this person just has a habit of making inappropriate comments to other people or just doesn’t see that there are any real consequences to the question. For your own good, you don’t want to make a fool out of yourself or attract any unwanted attention.
Answering the Question
You could choose to answer the question honestly and that may have to come from a place of calm & neutrality. Your response could simply be to say to this person that this is your daughter or son and you need to focus your attention on him/her. You could also let that person know that you are the parent and it is wrong for them to make an assumption about your age based on how you look. I guess it really just depends how honest or forthright you are willing to be with a person you don’t know. Sometimes less is more in these situations.
Avoiding the Question
If it is too difficult to answer the person’s question, you can just dodge it by changing the subject. You can say, “Wow, it is quite crowded in this market today…isn’t it?” Or you can say, “Oh gosh, I think I forgot something in the car. Sorry.” Another good response is, “Wow! Time really just got away from me. I forgot that I have a _______ appointment in ten minutes. Gotta run!” These types of answers help you to get away without the person knowing the truth about your situation.
Another way to deal with this is that you could tell the person that it is not their business and you prefer not to answer the question. Fortunately, there are many ways you can just avoid answering the question altogether.
Avoiding the Person
You could simply smile at the person and walk away. It really just depends on your temperament, personality and mood. You may not want to deal with this type of situation at all. This however, may leave that person with many questions and they may pursue you for answers. Hopefully, the person will just let it go and leave you alone but you never can tell these days. Some people tend to push people outside of their comfort zone. It is not the preferred method because it is better to shut them down right away (either by answering or not answering the question).
Taking care of Yourself Afterwards
Make sure that you do some self-talk afterwards to let yourself know that age is just a number and not a reflection about your beauty, physical health, and/or well-being. It is best not to allow this other person, that doesn’t know you, to ruin your day or to put you in a foul mood.
Since you have your child with you, you want your attention towards him or her to be positive. It can be beneficial to put a smile on your face and that could definitely help to change your mood. You could even joke around with your child about the silliness of the situation that you could possibly be a “grandma.” Make sure to let yourself know that you are wonderful, beautiful, capable, and not someone that is easily taken down by another person’s behavior.
Another thing to avoid doing is to go home afterwards and scrutinize your appearance in the mirror. We can definitely be our own worst critics. Looking in the mirror and trying to identify wrinkles, gray hairs, or other obvious signs of aging would just keep you moving in a downward spiral.
Treat Yourself to Something Special
Here are some ideas:
- Buy yourself and your child(ren) a sweet treat
- Go out for a movie/show
- Get a fun snack or a favorite drink together
- Go for a manicure
- Go to the beach/park/lake and enjoy some sunshine
- Take your child(ren) shopping for a new outfit or toy
- When you get home read a book together that has a positive message.
Any of these things can be something fun to do and help you to forget about the unpleasant experience.
Good luck out there Mamas! Remember that you are beautiful no matter what anyone else says!
Rachael Tarfman-Perez lives in California and is a children’s book author. She is also a mother of four, which is what inspired her to create books. She has a Master’s of Arts degree in counseling psychology as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Rachael’s training has helped her provide a different perspective on children and family. Rachael utilizes her professional experience, along with her parental experience, to develop ideas and material for her children’s and quote collection books.