How About Taking Turns?

“Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to.”

Out of all the rules I ever heard as a child, I think I hate this one the most.

Why? For starters, it has nothing to do with politeness. It’s simply used to shut a small kid up.

Just like the rule of saying nothing at all if you can’t say anything nice, this one gets lost on the path to adulthood. It’s also impossible. If no one spoke unless someone to spoke to them, no one would be able to speak at all. Somebody has to speak first. According to this, that “someone” must always and only be an adult. I want to know why an adult’s words are, by default, considered more valuable than a child’s.

I live with a family that spends half their time spouting racist and sexist nonsense all day. Nobody speaks to them first. They just blurt it out every now and then. What value is this? By contrast, I once babysat a little girl and she started telling me about her family’s trip to Florida. I didn’t ask her to and I didn’t say a word to her. She just did because she wanted to talk. Now, guess which one I’d rather hear.

If this rule is about not interrupting people, fine. That works, but should apply to adults too. It’s rude to interrupt anyone. But otherwise, someone has to speak first, and it’s fine if that “someone” is a child at times. That’s how we make friends. It’s how relationships are formed. It’s how people connect.

This rule needs to either be thrown in the garbage or replaced with something more sensible.

Also, I’ve heard this same rule was once applied, not only to children, but also to women. Admittedly, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if it is, that alone is enough for me to consider this rule extremely outdated. This is not 1915.

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