Humanity or Hypocrisy?

I’ve made several mistakes lately. One cost me money; one cost me peace, and one cost me my daughter’s respect.

In the last scenario, I said something I never should have said.

My 12-year old son was busting a gut at my inappropriate comment– so there’s your gauge for my sarcastic remark’s maturity and virtue.

I immediately realized my error and looked my daughter in the eye and clearly stated, “I am sorry.”  In fact, I said it three times as she continued to yell at me. I didn’t just say, “Sorry” in a defensive tone. I made sure my apology was a full sentence that took full responsibility with no disclaimers or excuses.

Well, my daughter wasn’t satisfied with an apology and wouldn’t let it go. At one point she yelled, “You are such a hypocrite.”

After emotions settled down (I think it was even the next day), I talked to my daughter about her accusation that I was a hypocrite. I asked her if she was willing to hear my take on hypocrisy. She agreed and I went on.

My soliloquy went something like this:

“Yesterday, I said something I shouldn’t have. I was trying to be funny and your reaction let me know that I had crossed a line. I immediately apologized.

I made a mistake.

But to make a mistake doesn’t make me a hypocrite; it makes me human.

For example, I believe in not yelling at my children, but I still do it often. Hypocrisy would be for me to write a blog post about how it is bad to yell at your children and telling others not to do it while at the same time acting like I don’t have a problem with it myself.

But believing one thing and doing another sometimes is part of the human experience.

I believe in portion control and try to teach my children this nutrition tool, but how many times have I overeaten at a Mexican restaurant? I know I should keep my chips and salsa consumption under control, but sometimes the crunchy, salty goodness gets the best of me. It doesn’t make me a hypocrite.

Or just like you know that you shouldn’t fight with your siblings. You know what the right thing to do is, but your emotions overtake you sometimes. This does not make you a hypocrite either. Only if you were to shame your friends when they fought with their siblings or give a talk in church about how you’re the perfect sister– then maybe you would be a hypocrite.

None of us have complete self-control. Every person on earth makes mistakes, but that does not make every person on earth a hypocrite.

Hypocrisy is shaming others for things you struggle with yourself.

Hypocrisy is denying your own fault, but magnifying the same fault in other people.

Hypocrisy is professing openly and forcefully and absolute to be something you are not.

Hypocrisy is speaking out against a topic and then secretly doing it yourself.

Hypocrisy is claiming to have moral standards for which you do not conform regularly.

There are hundreds of ways to be a hypocrite, but making a mistake isn’t one of them.”

I went on to tell her that I am the same person in this kitchen that I am in the school or at church. I never try to hide who I am or my mistakes. I can admit when I am wrong, and I can admit what I struggle with.

I repeated again, “To make a mistake doesn’t make me a hypocrite, it makes me human.”

Elle simply replied, “I see your point.”

And we left it at that.

This is an important discussion I have wanted to have with my children for a long time because I hear “hypocrite” being thrown around a lot in the media. But more importantly, a few individuals dear to me have gotten really offended over “hypocrites” and they have blamed  the “hypocrites'” actions for their own life-changing decisions.

I can’t judge if the perpetrators really were hypocrites or just dumb humans, but it affected me and them enough that I wanted my daughter to see the subtle distinction between humanity and hypocrisy.


5 thoughts on “Humanity or Hypocrisy?”

  1. I share the blame and a portion of the pain you must have felt. For that – I am sorry. Change comes slowly and is aided along when we are caught in the web of our own
    unhealthy habits. Continue to preach the high road, while you yourself are climbing.

  2. I know I already commented, but I thought of you during Elder Holland’s talk in General Conference when he said, “…Every one of us aspires to a more Christlike life than we often succeed in living. If we admit that honestly and are trying to improve, we are not hypocrites; we are human.” 🙂

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