In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 30, 2006 / 9 Kislev, 5767

No offense, but tact has lost its tongue

By Marybeth Hicks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There comes a time when everyone must learn there are things you just don't say. For my daughter Betsy, that time came in about the sixth grade when she began to preface her comments with the words, "No offense, but ... ."

For some reason, she thought this phrase constituted a pre-emptive apology of sorts, allowing her to follow it with painfully honest opinions such as, "No offense, but those jeans make you look fat," or "No offense, but your breath smells like a wet dog."

After a while, we realized Betsy's propensity for "no offense" was backfiring, risking damage to her relationships, not to mention the self-esteem of many unsuspecting victims.

My husband finally set her straight. "Betsy, anytime you have to begin a comment with the words 'No offense,' you absolutely are about to offend someone. Stop talking instead."

From then on, we banned the use of that phrase in favor of simply keeping one's thoughts to oneself.

It's not easy to teach children the rules of polite conversation -- because there no longer are any rules to teach. We parents grew up knowing it always was inappropriate to discuss one's salary, the price of one's home or the details of one's colonoscopy, but those kinds of topics have become commonplace.

Even the one standby rule -- never to discuss politics, sex or religion in polite company -- no longer applies. This is because avoiding these three topics would preclude talking about the day's headlines.

Heck, if you simply mentioned the recently revealed antics of former Rep. Mark Foley, you would hit all three of those "taboo" subjects in one conversationally incorrect swoop. Thanks to the media, any guidelines we could offer children about polite discourse would make virtually no sense to them anyway. You can't turn on a TV or radio or even stand next to a magazine rack at the supermarket checkout without being subjected to examples of the very topics we might counsel them to avoid.

(Example: You say, "It's not polite to talk about someone's plastic surgery." Your child says: "But mom, it says right here Suzanne Somers is accused of lying about having a face-lift.").

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this is a twisted trend.

Call me a dinosaur -- call me repressed, even -- but I yearn for a bygone day, a day when social conventions offered structure, propriety and common sense in the exercise of polite conversation.

At least it would be easier to raise up the next generation of polite conversationalists. I'd be able to explain that folks generally are uncomfortable if you voice an opinion about their lawn ornaments, their hair color and their dysfunctional families, while it's a safe bet to make idle chitchat about sports, the weather and your favorite foods.

Trouble is, people love to talk about their dysfunctional families. It's a favorite topic for lots of folks. (The lawn ornament thing is still touchy, though.)

It's not that I want to teach my children to be shallow. Far from it. Rather, I would like them to appreciate that there are such things as sensitive subjects. I would like them to learn to respect people's privacy. I even would like them to extend this courtesy to people they don't know -- celebrities and politicians.

I know. This seems pointless because celebrities and politicians are the first ones to reveal the truth about their sordid sex lives or their Botox treatments or their visits to rehab.

Full disclosure at this level promotes the belief that nobody cares if you voice an opinion about virtually any aspect of a person's life (No offense, but obviously Suzanne Somers has had a face-lift. Just look at the photos at the supermarket.)


What we need to do a quality parenting job on this issue are some new rules, such as, "Never ask Grandma why she doesn't get a face-lift like Suzanne Somers," "Never be the first one to use the word 'dysfunctional' when talking to a friend about her family" and "Never call your own family dysfunctional, even if it's true."

It's just too complicated.

Maybe Betsy was on to something when she discovered the phrase "No offense, but ... ." Maybe we all should start using it before we voice our opinions.

It's not as good as resisting a comment about someone's big feet or avoiding the question of whether a friend's brother will be home from prison in time to decorate the holiday tree, but at least it would show we're trying to be polite.

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Marybeth Hicksn offers readers common-sense wisdom in dealing with today's culture. Her anecdotes of her husband and four children tap into universal themes that every parent can relate to and appreciate. -- Wesley Pruden, Editor-in-Chief, The Washington Times
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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 19 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


© 2006, Marybeth Hicks