Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Tell Me About It: The perfect words for a speechless moment

While I´m away, readers give the advice. On a perfect thing to say when you don´t know what to say.
While I'm away, readers give the advice. On a perfect thing to say when you don't know what to say. istockphoto.com
While I'm away, readers give the advice.

On a perfect thing to say when you don't know what to say:

The nicest handwritten note I received from a pupil read, "Mrs. (K.), I don't know what to say in light of your recent loss, but I was taught always to say something in such a case, so, 'I'm sorry.' " I still have it 17 years later. It was such a small gesture, but the kindest of all.

On finding compassion for the awkward neighbor kid:

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  • Parents of young children often look harshly at the behavior of older children out of inexperience. Much like childless couples who judge the parenting of others, parents of 5-and-unders may not realize their little sweeties will be 9 someday too, and 9-year-olds are awkward and just learning to handle social skills with much independence. A kid may be a brat, or he may just be not acting his best in your yard. Having friends in different stages of parenting can be a treasured source of learning experiences.

    On "Are you dating/getting married/having children/having another child"-type questions:

    A friend once suggested the greatest reply to all loaded questions: "It is on the to-do list."

    On the prevalence of sexual assault:

    The Jan. 7, 2014, column (http://wapo.st/1krgjT7) included a lovely, supportive letter to a rape survivor that also stated, "I've never been raped nor do I think I know anyone who has been."

    Yes you do. Sexual assault and sexual violence is visited on 1/4 to 1/3 of the women in this country. Saying you don't know anyone who has survived sexual assault is willful blindness. Implying this is unusual also inadvertently distances and isolates the survivor.

    We all know survivors of sexual assault. They might be your daughter, colleague, boss, running partner, trainer. It is statistically impossible that you don't.


    tellme@washpost.com

    Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

    Carolyn Hax
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