Monday, November 05, 2007

Dignified Speech

Continuing with the subject of older women. There are a lot of younger women who just long for older women to be what they should be in the way they speak, in the way they dress and in the way they conduct their lives. Many a young married lady has hoped for hints on homemaking and relationship-making, from the older generation, only to find out that older women are lacking in the kind of example that is worth emulating.

All these things are signals for the younger women to try hard now at this age, to regulate themselves and educate themselves in things like manners, homemaking, to help with the role of being wives and mothers. They are creating a history for themselves. One day younger women will look at them and analyze them with questions like:

- Did she get along with her husband or was she always arguing?

-Was she able to keep house?

-Were her children respectful?

-Did she show hospitality?

-Is her appearance a good example? (see former article for ideas on what does and does not look dignified on older women).

One area that young women can work on in their youth, is speech. One expects the young to be somewhat brash and not careful what they blurt out in public. At a seasoned age, appropriate speech should be already learned in youth.

One example is the woman in the line to buy drygoods in a certain department store. We are all lined up, patiently waiting, and she says loudly to the clerk, "I missed the sale, because I didn't get my SUPPORT CHECK until today." The other people in line looked embarrassed, for it is personal information like this that one should keep quiet. For one thing, she was airing the failures of her marriage. She might not have been in the least at fault for a broken marriage, but she was announcing failure by the very remark that she made. Even if she was within her rights to divorce, it was obvious that the younger women in line were somewhat horrified at the prospect of getting that old and being worried about a support check.

Now we could get off on all kinds of other subjects regarding the older woman and her income, but this is not the point. The point is, that in public, older women, and others as well, need to be discreet about the source of their income. Today, they talk about all kinds of personal things, but in former times, it was not considered right to tell about your financial situation or announce publicly anything personal.

There are many other times people have been embarrassed by older women who are loud and brash in public, and it is more the tragedy because by a certain age, they should know better. Some excuse themselves loudly from a tea table and announce they have to go to the bathroom and take their pills. Others talk about surgeries in detail, all the way from how big the scar was and how much they bled. Some complain loudly about personal matters, and even worse, some speak in public situations about their husband's faults.

Older women have a responsibility to the younger women, and that is why they need to be gracious and graceful and careful in their appearance and their attitudes.In the Orangery
In the Orangery
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Perugini, Charles...
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Anonymous said...

I so agree with what you said. I have found it so hard to find older women who I can look to for sound advice or see an example of what I would consider to be a Godly woman(even at Church,sadly). My husband said just the other day that us younger women must learn to be those older women that seem to be so lacking. This is where reading blogs is refreshing though, because it is here I have found some lovely examples of older women who are encouraging and gracious.


Victoria said...

This is one of the best articles on older women that I have ever read. It is challenging to me since I am a bit older, for self improvement. It has caused me to stop and think about what I say in public, and how I act. Am I affecting people around me, especially the younger women in a positive godly way? Am I showing the Titus 2 ways in my home? I enjoy reading that causes me to examine myself and address what changes I need to make. It causes growth. Thank you very much!


Lady of the house said...

So true, so true...

Lady of the house said...

One more thing, I come from a rural southern state and all the older ladies speak with the gentlest, most dignified tones sprinkled with hints of a southern accent. I've noticed now that more people, especially the young, speak like "hicks." It's as if they go overboard trying to prove their southern-ness and end up sounding really nasal and unrefined. I wonder why that is? Laziness, rebellion? I've even noticed these tendencies in myself and have really worked on getting rid of the "hick" while keeping the gentile southern-ness.

Anonymous said...

Another thought-provoking post. I know, that among my friends, many of our mothers are still working for various reasons, and it leaves a real gap in our lives. Also, for whatever reason, we have all decided to live at least an hour or a plane ride away from our mothers, which makes life harder also. I feel sad for older women who try to look younger through clothing etc. I know it is easy for me to say, since I am not there yet, but I hope that I am able to grow older gracefully. Ann

Anonymous said...

This is a great post! And lady of the house, I'd like to throw my "2 cents" in, about the pattern of speech in some people that you addressed in your comment. I was raised in the North (Midwestern state) & still live in the North (neighboring state). My 3 siblings all have moved to the South, & one, in particular, has affected this "hick drawl" you mention, that you'd think she was born & raised a Southerner. In my opinion, it's very unattractive. Yet, when I was last with my siblings, they all commented on my "accent". Hmmm.

I think that a Southern "hick" accent is seen by some people, somehow, as more friendly, down-to-earth, proving that one is a "regular guy", not uptight, & so forth. In other words, they think it's cool.

I was in South Carolina 2 years ago, & I was so immpressed by many of the people I met there. You mentioned a gentleness, lady of the house, & yes, that's what I saw. It was not put on, either. In the elders, especially, this was in the bone, so to speak. A wonderful experience!

sincerely, Brenda

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this thought-provoking post that pulls together a lot of my random observations while out and about. You made me realize (and say a little prayer of thanks) that I was blessed with my grandmother, who was and is a Great Lady. Her gentle voice with encouraging words and kind advice was the perfect example for me growing up in a broken home with a working mother. Watching and following my grandmother's example set a standard for me to follow in my own life. Thank you for the gentle reminder of her wonderful ways.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately what you say is so true. I spent quite a bit of time with my grandmother growing up and thankfully have her as a role model. I would have been put in daycare all day every day if not for her. She has been gone since before I was in high school and I still miss her terribly. I live in another state from both my parents and my in-laws and this is now by choice. My little family has tried living by both sets of parents and we have come to the unhappy realization that they do not want to be bothered with their children or grandchildren. I find that they only call us or come to see us if they want something and they want us to work around their schedules even though they are retired, not our work or school schedules. The do not really want to be involved in our lives. We are really just a bother to them, and they do not only show it in deeds but will tell us that as well. I would love an older woman that would be interested in me and my children. Even in our church they all work and talk about how tired they are. I can't tell you how many times they seem bothered by children. I often do not participate in church functions because children aren't really welcomed either. There does not seem to be a place for mother's with young children anymore. I am not sure what the answer is but if you are fortunate enough to have a Proverbs 31 woman in your life, then you are truly blessed..

Anonymous said...

Oh my yes. This is why I read with great thanks this blog.

I am 46, and transitioning prayerfully, and with trepidation, into that role in some lives of young women I know.

But in my own life . . . the older Christian women seem to counsel against the Titus advice. "You've got to stand up to your husband! Don't be a doormat!" "When will your husband get a vasectomy? You're just being run ragged with all those children!" "Wearing skirts all the time is LEGALISM honey! That's just the sort of bondage that we're set free from - that's what grace is all about!"

Although I don't actually listen to any of this, it makes me so sad and lonely. Bereft. When my heart is crying out for an older woman, I do two things in my mind. One, I resolve to be that older woman for others, and two, I just think about my great-grandmother or some female ancestor who I actually never knew, but I know must've thought differently! She's there in my genepool, right?


Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who mentions being considered a bother by her and her husband's parents - this is an increasingly common problem. I faced it myself when raising my son - my parents divorced after I married and proceeded to go and "do their own things" at opposite ends of the country. Like anonymous, they wanted me to work around their schedules, and made it clear that they considered their responsibilities as parents and family members over and done with. No matter what crisis came up in my life, they avoided getting involved, no matter for how short a time and no matter how serious the crisis was. Even when my husband was severely injured in a car crash and on the verge of death, and when my son was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes at age nine, where I was trying to cope completely alone by caring for them and running our farm, neither of my parents could be bothered to leave their current love interest for even a few days to give me some time to rest.

When I actually asked for help, I was told "you'll get through it", and that was that. My own family. I must add that when they had a crisis, they expected me to come running, even though it meant airline tickets I could ill afford!

This is something I hear from other people as well - this alienation of their young families by their own parents. This is such a tragic trend, particularly now that our society causes women in neighborhoods to go off to work. So often for the homemaker, there is no help at all, even from those who should hold her most dear.

I'm so thankful for this site, and to know that there are still people out there who would consider this treatment of grown children by their own parents heinous. It's comforting to read of Lady Lydia's family and how she supports and helps her own.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia,

Thank you for the post on thoughtful speech.

I was wondering if you have any suggestions for answers to questions that people seem to ask nowadays, which I don't wish to answer because the information is private:

"How old are you?"
(Then if I say, "I'd rather not say," they say, "Oh, come on." or "You shouldn't be ashamed of your age." I look young for my age, and people always comment on it, but I'd just rather people didn't know my age. I wish it were the old days when it was okay to say, "A lady never tells her age.")

"You must not have very much money because of reasons x, y, z...."
(I am really surprised that people think it is okay to talk about how much money I have. It is none of their business. I usually just remain silent and allow them to move onto another topic of conversation.)

You've probably already covered this topic somewhere! Thank you so much for the lovely posts.

Lydia said...

Thank you for bringing back this subject. I had intended to write a post on pure speech, for LAF and also one on another kind of speech for Christian ladies, on my own blog.

The questions people ask were always inappropriate, only I think these days no one knows it. The older generation has fed on tv shows where everyone tells all and bares all and it is considered dishonest to be secretive or mentally unhealthy to keep things to yourself.

Asking how old you are: I think this starts from childhood. Everyone asks young children and teens how old they are. They get so used to hearing it, they might think it is okay to ask older people how old they are.

There used to be a saying in response to that question: old enough to know better, or something like that. A little older than my teeth. Thats for me to know and you to find out.

Or you could abandon the riddle answers and just say, "I was brought up to believe that such questions were too personal to ask."

How much money do you have or make?
That's on a need-to-know-basis, and you dont need to know. Enough to take care of my family. It is rude to advertise how much money you have. It might make someone jealous. Or, you could just be honest and say, "That is a highly personal question. We dont discuss our personal finances or our sources of income with other people."

I believe it is okay and probably desireable to say "A lady never tells her age." A true lady never asks the age of anyone if it is none of her business.

I have also been told "You must not be very well off, because you never buy_____________or never go to______________and you don't wear _______________________. My answer is that I am better off than the people who do those things, because I don't spend money in those pursuits.

Others have said, "You must be very well off. After all, you have travelled to other countries and you have tea parties at home--which we all know that only rich people do--and you have a lot of things in your house."

That also is a misconception and should be truthfully answered with something like this:

I was gifted with most of the things I own. I can travel every few years because I do not spend money on drinking or smoking or going out for entertainment, such as concerts or ballgames. If people were willing to forego such amusements, they would not be spending so much money and be able to have a few tea parties and trips.

I have tried to ask in return: "Well first, tell me how much YOU make or have!" and to my astonishment, people are so naive, they TELL it. I dont think this revealing of everything is a healthy trend in our culture, and the only way to correct it is to put a stop to it by not telling, diverting, or politely scolding the person for inquiring. You might check a source such as Miss Manners, who wrote several books about rudeness, one being the asking of impertinent and personal questions. One of her responses was, "I cant figure out why on earth anyone would ask such a person question!"