Quiet and Sober Post 24

Which gender do you instantly picture when you hear the qualities ‘quiet and sober’?

Dumb question, isn’t it? Yesterday, a friend described a little girl like this, as a compliment to the girl. That set me thinking. Quiet and sober, does not sound like a compliment to me though – it sounds boring. While I am all for well-behaved children, quiet and sober goes one step ahead. It somehow indicates a suppressed personality, in my opinion.

Why quiet? I would want my child to be quiet, if she chooses to or if that is how she is, not because she thinks that it is a sign of ‘good behaviour’. I can’t help wonder if these quiet children actually stop airing their views because they have got the message that being ‘quiet and sober’ is a good thing. Maybe I am making too much of it, but it annoys me more because I have never heard a little boy being described as ‘quiet and sober’.

One of the things which husband and I feel is important is to being up our child to be confident. Confident in her abilities, confident enough to know her mind, and confident enough to speak her mind.

Some children might be gentle, some boisterous, some naughty, some quiet, by nature. Which is fantastic, as far as that is their nature, rather than an expectation that is heaped upon them. I get annoyed when people describe little girls as ‘very ladylike’. Please let her be a child first. Please let her enjoy her childhood, ladylike or not, let it be something she is, rather than something she conforms to, because of what is expected out of her.

Haven’t you come across households where girls are treated differently, and grow up in that mentality. Haven’t we all come across mums who try to boast about their little boy’s ‘naughtiness’, even if the child is question is actually a reserved, quiet child, who keeps away from trouble? Mothers who get annoyed when their sons play with dolls or prams, or love the colour pink? Why is a quiet boy, so unacceptable and a boisterous girl, so unacceptable? Wouldn’t the world be an easier place to live if every child is allowed to be true to their intrinsic nature? A boy who loves playing with dolls is and a girl who likes to repair cars encouraged equally?

Can’t we describe a child as well-behaved, sunny, confident, happy, well-mannered, instead of quiet and sober? Can a child be free of the stereotypes that society seems eager to heap upon him/her?

Please tell me, does quiet and sober make sense to you?

29 thoughts on “Quiet and Sober Post 24

  1. Wouldnโ€™t the world be an easier place to live if every child is allowed to be true to their intrinsic nature? A boy who loves playing with dolls is and a girl who likes to repair cars encouraged equally?
    Amen! THat’s the best…..
    And I want to make sure I do that to my kids ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am sure you will, darling ๐Ÿ™‚ You sure will!

  2. I agree with you on all the points above..and have come acroos many such moms in day to day life… I have learnt to ignore them now..there is nothing which you can do to change their mentality..
    infact i have written on similar note recently

  3. Funnily enough, I can relate to the ‘quiet and sober’.

    ‘Quiet and Sober’ children are not necessarily by suppression. I agree it is important to ‘voice’ your opinion, but what differentiates a well mannered quiet and sober child from an ill-mannered one would be when and how it is done.

    A child can be well-mannered without being quiet, don’t you think? I don’t approve of badly behaved children AT ALL! But every child is different, and just because a child is quiet – does it automatically mean well -mannered? I know children who are on the quieter side, but hit, and are rude to others, can’t get along with other children.. But when you see them, they do appear as a ‘quiet and sober’ child. It is only later when you interact with them that you realise what they are capable of.

    Innumerable number of times, have I spotted tantrum throwing children and parents helplessly adhering to their demands… And I find myself fuming at the parents for not teaching their child what good behavior is like!

    Yes, and I agree with you. When parents do not discipline a child, they will get badly behaved children. I agree entirely.

    Coming to the point of gender… if you are in a group of same age girls and boys, you will more often than not find incessant jibber jabber amongst the girls more than the guys… Not saying the guys are the silent types… just that the girls are generally more talkative… (some to the level of being annoying)! Hence finding a quiet girl would indeed be a tough task!! I personally love the sober and silent types. I think they are far from boring… Quietness and Sobriety to me represents depth of character and I absolutely love that! Hence, to me that is a compliment…

    I think these assumptions have to do with the stereotypes that we associate with genders. Yes, I have met noisy women, just as I have met noisy men. Are girls more talkative? Isn’t that a blanket statement? I have met men who gossip just as much, who talk just as much. As for the quiet and sober kinds – I am not too sure that being quiet necessarily indicates a ‘depth of character’. I know men and women, who can talk when required, and be silent when required – that is what I would call a depth of character. Some people are just shy, and some are not – would you assume that just because some one is not shy, they do not have depth of character. As I said in the post, if being quiet is their true nature – it is wonderful,but where it is because of an expectation heaped upon them – then it is not right.

    I actually agree with what elders used to say: “The more you speak, the lesser you think.” More often than not, people with foot-in-the-mouth disease suffer because they talk too much… most of the times not thinking before talking..

    Yes, one should think before talking. I agree. But to equate not talking to thinking, is a bit much. I am talking about confidence here. A person who is confident of themselves, will be able to judge when it is necessary to talk and when it is not. More often than not this quality of ‘quiet and sober ‘ is expected out of girls to show that they are submissive.

    • 1. I have hardly met children who are ‘quite’ but rude… But, then I have not met many children ๐Ÿ™‚
      2. You have to agree girls chatter more… While growing up also, in our class, girls used to chatter much much more than boys… Thats the most vivid memory I have… But then again being silent is a ‘nice’ attribute in both the genders.
      3. I guess it is all subjective. When I say ‘quiet’, I do not mean person who just doesnt talk ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess moderation is the key here… And I meant intelligent quiet not dumb quiet. I agree the expectation should not be heaped on them… It should never be!!

  4. Quiet and sober – if I hear that I would think it describes a scenic village or something..not a child! The only child I interact with everyday is loud, crazy, naughty, talkative and drives me nuts..so what were they saying about girls? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • ๐Ÿ™‚ I so agree ๐Ÿ™‚ Mine is the same ๐Ÿ™‚ And I love her to be that way – be herself.

      And even if I say so myself, she talks, knows her mind, and does not throw tantrums. She knows she can’t get away with it.

  5. For some reason with the ‘sober’ adjective, I automatically thought it might relate to drinking! ๐Ÿ˜›

    That is what we automatically think no?

    On a serious note, I was always referred to as “quiet” at school and by relatives…only to stun people when I stood my ground in terms of what I wanted to do for my future (i.e. take up Arts after the 10th). I never was confident through high school but thanks to my college, I came out of my shell a lot more. And yeah, quiet was used as a compliment by most of my teachers at PTAs.

    I think teachers and parents like ‘quiet’ because it implies less work ‘handling’ the child ๐Ÿ™‚ Good for you that you came out of your shell. Generally speaking, I think we who grew up in India, tend to be slightly less confident that people in western societies.. But I guess there are a lot of factors at play here.

    I agree with you though…labels like that can be detrimental. And don’t know why it’s necessarily a good thing…

    I agree. Labels, I feel, just reinforce expectations

    • enter as in….when they get back from school. From then on there is not a moment of peace and I cant hear myself think…..oh where can I buy some ‘quiet & sober’???

  6. Very timely post. I read this article today about a couple who want to raise their child Storm “genderless” – so that he/she will not feel the need to conform. A little extreme, but fodder for debate.

  7. Excelent .. I hope I get to raise my kids properly ..
    these days it does not matter boy or girl.. Both are same as more and mor egirls are doing but boys do..

    I wish and hope people do that ..

  8. Sometimes quiet is so welcome!
    Jokes apart, I don’t think quiet and sober always means “suppressed” or less confident. For some children it is natural. Cajoling introverts to keep interacting with people may be equally detrimental.
    I agree that “quietness” should not enforced on child, but the reverse is also true. We just have to let them be..

  9. I love your posts, Smitha!!!! Ah! About quiet and sober. When me and my sis were kids, people would ALWAYS compliment us on being ‘quiet and well behaved’. While my parents beamed with pride, I can tell you – loud and clear – how much I hated it. I wanted to be just as normal and ‘free’ as other kids, but I was always in fear of what my parents would think of my ‘behaviour’. Like you said, why don’t we let kids be kids first?!!!

  10. “Which gender do you instantly picture when you hear the qualities โ€˜quiet and soberโ€™?”
    I tried to blank out my mind for a second to see which gender I could picture. And I couldn’t picture either. It was blank. I did not see the image of a girl or a guy flashing in my mind. I never thought those were gender specific qualities. Nor did I think people associate them with girls. I think an equal number of boys or grown up men are labelled with those adjectives.

    And are quiet boys and boisterous girls really unacceptable? I have never seen any of that happening around me either. I wonder if I am just fortunate, or is the society really changing for the better?

    I do not think quiet and sober are compliments, nor do I think they indicate a suppressed personality. I might be wrong, I don’t know.Kids should certainly be confident like you say, but are quiet kids less confident? It is an interesting thought. I will read up more to find the co relation.

    Having said that,those aren’t traits I would want my kids to have.

  11. I get to hear this “quiet and sober” a lot for my daughter and I have wondered enough to make out what it means and few times asked back too. I have never been sure whether to take it as compliment and say thanks or question back or ignore.
    To me my kid is disciplined enough to behave as per situation and as per her own mind. I dont care how she seems to the world. I just want ger to grow up to be confident enough to stand up for her thoughts.
    There are people who stereotype boys and girls with certain characteristics and also encourage or discourage accordingly. They try to mould personalities and such kids grow up confused trying to portray what they are not.

    Let kids be kids is all i ask for ( like you already said)

  12. I love outspoken and confident kids, but then that is my preference. Though I hate rude, selfish and impolite behavior. I have found kids parents call “quiet and sober” often are timid or sly.

    • ‘ I have found kids parents call โ€œquiet and soberโ€ often are timid or sly’ – That has been my experience too. And I agree – rude, selfish, impolite behaviour is totally unacceptable, and an outspoken child does not necessarily mean impolite or rude.

      And I also wonder if the preference given to ‘quiet’ children in our Indian society, is because of the ‘elders are right’ syndrome.

  13. People used to call me quite and sober which i am not,i used to interact with people whom i like and the moment i dislike them i never used to open my mouth maybe that was the reason they used to call me sober.

    To me a kid will behave differently in different situation.A kid who is naughty doesn’t behave the same way in someones house and if they don’t like a person i bet they will never open their mouth.

  14. Time and again I am warned by the MIl to calm down my daughter, but from others i hear she is sunny natured and very polite as well! So now why wud i go around harming what she is just to appease the norms, and yet, at times i succumba nd regret it! Honestly, why dont we let our girls alone…we shd know better being women ourselves and under pressure all the time!! Sigh!

  15. No Smitha, quiet and sober doesnt make sense, if attributed to only a girl child.

    By bringing up stereotypes, the innocence and the beautiful childhood of doing things in their own creative way is lost…

  16. Nice post.
    Read all the comments too.
    All I wanted to say has already been said by the others.
    I will be quiet and sober this time.

  17. well my elder sis was a quiet and sober kid but thats just the way she was. It makes sense when a kid’s basic nature is like that not when he or she is forced to be so.

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