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Joy

What it's like for a man to share his feelings every day for a week.

For a week, I decided that when strangers asked how I was doing, I'd actually tell them. Here's what happened.

masculinity
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Men can learn how to share what they're feeling.

We all know that phrases like “How's it going?” and “How are you?” are mostly pleasantries.

It's just how we say "Hello." You're not expected to answer any more than the person asking is expected to care.

But every once in a while, someone will surprise you. You'll toss out a casual and totally insincere “How are you?” and the floodgates will open out of nowhere. “I've had the WORST DAY,” they'll say.


I've always secretly envied people who can open up on a whim like that. It seems weirdly fun. And there might be a lot of psychological benefits to it.

So I tried it. For a week, I decided that when strangers asked how I was doing, I'd actually tell them.

But before I could start, a pretty important question occurred to me: Would I even know what to say? After all, I am a dude, and everyone knows dudes aren't always super in touch with how we're feeling.

Ronald Levant, a professor of counseling psychology at Akron University, told me a story about a man he once treated early in his career that sums up this whole thing pretty nicely:

“[He] came in complaining about how his son had stood him up for a father son hockey game. Being relatively naive back then, I said, 'So, how did you feel about that?' His answer was 'Well, he shouldn't have done it!' I said again, 'Yeah, he shouldn't have done it, but how did you feel?'
“He just looked at me blankly.”

Levant recalled similar sessions where women, by contrast, were able to walk him — in detail — through their emotional reaction to a situation: how anger turned to disappointment turned to worry, and so on.

“Among the men I was treating or working with there was a singular inability for many of them to put their emotions into words,” Levant said.

As part of my project, I wanted to test Levant's theory, to see what it would be like to, you know, actually try to express my feelings. As the king of non-answers, deflection, and “I'm fine, how are you?” I wanted to know what it would be like to talk about me.

It turned out to be much less simple than I thought.

grocery, enthusiastic conversation, strangers

Getting engaged and talking with other people throughout the day.

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Day One

I was on my way to my daughter's daycare to drop off more diapers, and I was trying to think about how I felt at that specific moment. It was a beautiful sunny day. There was a guy on the sidewalk walking three huge, puffy dogs. It made me laugh.The day had been a bit of a rollercoaster. My 1-year-old daughter woke up all smiles. But by the end of breakfast, she had collapsed into an inconsolable heap of tears, and that was how she left the house that day: wailing in the backseat of my wife's car. When I arrived at daycare, though, she ran to me and leapt into my arms. She laid her head on my chest and giggled as she stared into my eyes. It was a total turnaround and a wonderful midday boost to my mood.

On my way home, I stopped off at a grocery store to grab an energy drink and, potentially, to share this happy moment with a stranger.

I chose the line manned by a fast-talking, bubbly woman. And when I got to the front, she teed me up perfectly with a sincere: “How are you?”

“Hey, I'm good!” I said enthusiastically. In the next instant, though, she was onto other things. “Ma'am?” she yelled to a wandering woman behind me. “I can ring you up over here.”

Her attention swung back to me, but almost immediately, she was telling me my total. “That'll be $2.03.”

The transaction moved at hyper-speed. The moment was gone. As I shuffled for my wallet, I considered just blurting it out anyway, “I just visited my daughter at daycare and she was so happy to see me and it was the freaking best!”

But a voice popped up in my head, and I couldn’t shake it: She's not going to care. Why would she care?

So I said nothing, paid, and went home.

To understand why men and women often handle feelings differently, we have to look at society first.

I can't help but think my wife would have had no trouble talking to the woman in the store. Why is it harder for me then? Are we wired differently? Is it a brain thing? A hormone thing?

Apparently, in the 1980s and '90s, researchers had something of a breakthrough on this question. They became “stimulated by this idea that gender was something that was socially determined,” Levant explained. He noted that boys were being socialized differently than girls were, and it was making a big difference for them down the road.

In a TEDx Talk called “Unmasking Masculinity” Ryan McKelley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, echoed similar findings from his research.

First, he learned that infant and young boys surprisingly displayed more intensity and range of emotion than their female counterparts. “But that story starts to change over time,” he said.

Second, he looked at a series of studies polling men and women in America, which asked people to generate a list of emotions that are “culturally acceptable” for each sex. While the study found that women felt “allowed” to display nearly the entire emotional spectrum, men seemed to be limited to three primary feelings: anger, contempt, and pride.

But despite all these cultural “requirements” about emotion, it turns out that our brains aren't processing things all that differently. McKelley says if you hook men and women up to equipment that measures things like heart rate, skin conductance, sweat, and breath rate, and then expose them to stimuli that can provoke strong emotions, “these gender differences disappear.”

“I do not deny there are biological differences,” McKelly told me in an interview. “However, the degree to which it influences all that other stuff, I believe, is overblown.”

My learning after talking to these researchers? Men DO feel feelings (yay!) but society isn’t doing us any favors when it comes to helping us learn how to express them.

Day Two

I was sitting in the sweltering parking lot outside a Home Depot when I decided I was going to do better than the day before.

I walked inside and stood in line at the customer service counter for what felt like an eternity. Finally, one of the tellers called me up. She had a shock of white curly hair and kind eyes. A grandmotherly type. “How can I help you?” she asked. Not the exact question I wanted, but we'll see where it goes. “I have some returns,” I said.

I decided I was going to do better today.

We launched right into the specifics of what I was returning and why, and it was looking like I was about to strike out again. The transaction took a while so there was ample space to fill. Since she hadn’t asked me about my day, I took the initiative while she tapped impatient fingers along her computer waiting for it to load.

“How's your day going so far?” I asked. She went on to tell me about how a big storm that rolled through nearly knocked out the store's power and how the computers had been acting up ever since. “My day was going great until this!” she said playfully.

In my eagerness to share, I'd accidentally stumbled into a pretty pleasant conversation with a stranger. OK, so it was about computers and the weather, but it sure beats an awkward silence. She never did ask me how I was doing, and that's OK.

But it did make me realize that talking about your own feelings is pretty damn hard, even when you're going out of your way to try.

rainy day, gray, feeling depressed, shame

A rainy day affects the human experience and emotional state.

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

Day Three

Day three was tough. Outside it was gray and dreary and inside I felt about the same. Flat. Gray.

I was having trouble identifying the root of why I felt so, for lack of a better word, “blah,” so I Googled “how to find out what you're feeling,” like I was some sort of robot trying to understand the human experience. “Pay attention to your physiology,” one article said. I felt totally normal and my heart rate was an unremarkable 80. What does that mean?

“Don't think about it too much,” another article said. Well, shit.

As I read on about meditation and mindfulness and things of that sort, I started to get a little nervous. “What if I get too in touch with my emotions?” There's something comforting about being a reasonably even-keeled guy without a lot of emotional highs and lows. I don't want to go digging in the darkest recesses of my subconscious and unlock some terrible shit.

Apparently a lot of men feel like this.

McKelley described one man he treated who had severe anger issues and wasn't exactly open to talking about his problems: “I asked him, 'What do you find so subversive about crying?' He said, 'If I start, I'm afraid I'm going to curl up in a fetal position and never be able to stop.'”

I thought a little too much about this and decided I had to get out of the house.

I don't want to go digging in the darkest recesses of my subconscious and unlock some terrible shit.

I headed out to grab a coffee at a local establishment (OK, it was a McDonald's, but I really don't need your judgment right now). There was a young, freckle-faced girl working the counter. She was probably 19. When it was my turn, she gave me a shy “Hello.”

“How are you?” I started. “Good. How are you?” she responded, on cue.

Since I hadn’t had any major emotional breakthroughs at that point, I just ... told her the truth. “I just had to get out of the house a little bit. It's so gray and crappy today and I just needed a break. You know?”

She gave me possibly the blankest stare I had ever seen in my life. I quickly filled the silence with my order — a large iced coffee. To go.

The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much more to this whole emotions thing than just “opening up.”

By the third day, I’d learned that men definitely feel things. Lots of things. But it's what happens before those feelings bubble to the surface that accounts for the myth that dudes don’t have any emotions at all.

Think of it this way: Almost every single day, you take the same route driving home from work. And while driving is usually a conscious process that takes a lot of focus and effort, you could probably make that super-familiar drive home from work with barely any involvement from your brain at all. We sometimes call this “going on autopilot.” It’s the same way with breathing or blinking. Sure, you can control them if you want, but more often than not, they’re totally automatic.

And I've learned that it can be the same thing with suppressing emotions. For years and years, most men have been trained not to give any indication that we might be scared or lonely or nervous, and we push it down. If we do that enough, it can start to seem like we don’t feel those feelings at all.

It's what happens before those feelings bubble to the surface that accounts for the myth that dudes don't have any emotions at all.

McKelley expands on this idea in his TEDx Talk when he talks about the “male emotional funnel system.” Basically, he says all those emotions men might feel that make them vulnerable or that make them subject to judgment, or even being outcast, by their peers are transformed into anger, aggression, or silence. It's how we avoid ridicule.

It's how we survive.

But over time, not only do we lose the ability to understand our own true emotions — the emotions behind the anger or silence — but we get worse at figuring out and empathizing with what others are feeling too.

When it comes to emotional fluency, McKelley said, “it's like speaking a foreign language. If you don't use it, you lose it. It's something you have to practice.”

Day Four

When I went to bed the previous night, the country was heartbroken over the death of Alton Sterling. When I woke up, we were heartbroken over the death of Philando Castile. Two black men dead at the hands of police within 48 hours.

But as devastated as I was, life goes on — right? I had work to do and, later, errands. In fact, we needed more diapers.

But the shootings were the only thing on my mind all day.

When I reached the cashier at the Walgreens down the street from my house, a small pack of size-five Pampers clutched to my side, I saw she was a young black girl. She asked how I was doing. And I told her, with all honesty, that I was sad.

We talked briefly about the news. She'd been at work and hadn’t heard much about Philando Castile yet. We paused so I could enter my phone number for reward points. There were no tears or hugs or anything like that — after all, we were standing at the front of a Walgreens and people were starting to form a line behind me.

She asked how I was doing. And I told her, with all honesty, that I was sad.

When I left, I don't know if I felt any better. But I certainly didn’t feel worse. And talking to a real live human being about an awful tragedy felt a lot more meaningful than reading Facebook comments and Tweets.

So, on an awful, terrible, no-good day, I guess that was something.

While I worked on this project, I often wondered why all of this mattered. Do I really need to tell people what I’m feeling all the time?

And then I thought about our nation, and all the tragedies that we hear about on the news every day.

I thought about the 100 million men in America who, to varying degrees, have had their ability to empathize with the emotions of others slowly eroded over time because society tells them they cannot be vulnerable. I thought about the creep on the street chatting up a woman who clearly, visibly wants nothing to do with him. I thought about the catcallers who seem to be convinced they are paying women a compliment and are oblivious to how uncomfortable, even afraid, they're making them.

I thought of the millions of men in America being conditioned from an early age to turn fear, helplessness, loneliness, shame, and guilt into two things: anger and aggression. I thought of the 80-plus mass shootings in America since 1982 and how almost all of them were committed by men. I thought about how many of those men might have been bullied, hurt, shamed, or humiliated and, perhaps, could think of no other outlet for those feelings than the barrel of a gun.

I thought about the millions of men in America who will never harm another person, but might funnel that anger and aggression inwards through alcohol or drug abuse or worse, with three and a half times more men dying by suicide than women.

To be extremely clear: There is no excuse for hurting another person, whether through harassment, rape, abuse, or gun violence. But when we talk about providing better mental health services in our country, maybe we ought to make sure we're thinking of the next generation of otherwise healthy boys who need guidance about what to do with their emotions.

“If we're not allowed to talk about [shame], we're not allowed to express it, we're not allowed to admit we're experiencing it. And then you surround it with exposure to violence and seeing it modeled as a way to solve problems,” McKelley told me. “But women are bathed in the same violent cultural forces, so what's the difference?”

“Until we can figure out a better way socially to help boys and men navigate feelings of shame, we're going to continue to have problems.”

As bad as all the research sounds, there IS some good news.

intimacy, honesty, emotional intelligence, terrifying, men

Giving self reflection and intimacy a real shot.

Photo by Suzana Sousa on Unsplash

My best advice for how all of the men I know can figure out what their feelings are? Give it a shot.

Many of us are risk-takers. We go skydiving, wakeboarding, speedboating, or even shopping-cart-riding (full-speed into a thorn bush on a rowdy Saturday night, amiright?).

But we won’t tell our best friend that we love them.

“The irony is men repeatedly score higher than women on average in risk-taking behaviors. And yet we won't take those types of risks. Those emotional risks are terrifying for a lot of men. That’s probably the one thing at the end of the day that I suggest guys do,” McKelley said.

It might not always work out, but more often than not, he says, you'll find so many other people are feeling the same way and just waiting for someone else to say it.

“It doesn't require courage to hide behind a mask,” McKelley said in the closing minutes of his TEDx Talk. “What requires courage is being open and vulnerable no matter what the outcome.”

And as for me? I learned that talking about how I'm feeling, especially with people I don't know or trust, can be pretty hard.

Throughout the week, there were a lot of voices inside me telling me not to do it.

It'll be weird! They won't care! They're going to judge you!

And sometimes those voices were right. But as the week went along, it got a little bit easier to ignore them. And in the days since the “experiment” ended, I've found myself sharing just a little, tiny, minuscule bit more on a day-to-day basis.

What was most incredible was that I started to realize that the experts were right: This IS a skill. It’s something I can learn how to do, even as a self-described “nonemotional” guy. By taking “little risks” with my feelings, I am getting better and better at bypassing those instincts in me that want me to clam up and be the strong, stoic man.

I just hope I’ll have the courage to keep practicing.

But again, this isn't just about me. And it's probably not just about you either. It’s about the next generation of young people who will look to us (both men and women) for reassurance that men can feel, can talk about feeling, and can respond with things other than anger, aggression, or silence.

I want to leave you with a question, one I want you to really think about and answer as honestly as you possibly can. It might seem silly, but answering it could be one of the bravest things you'll ever do.

All right. Are you ready? Here it goes:

How are you?


This article originally appeared on 07.27.16

A woman is shocked to learn that her name means something totally different in Australia.

Devyn Hales, 22, from California, recently moved to Sydney, Australia, on a one-year working visa and quickly learned that her name wouldn’t work Down Under. It all started when a group of men made fun of her on St. Patrick’s Day.

After she introduced herself as Devyn, the men laughed at her. "They burst out laughing, and when I asked them why, they told me devon is processed lunch meat,” she told The Daily Mail. It's similar to baloney, so I introduce myself as Dev now,” she said in a viral TikTok video with over 1.7 million views.

For those who have never been to Australia, Devon is a processed meat product usually cut into slices and served on sandwiches. It is usually made up of pork, basic spices and a binder. Devon is affordable because people buy it in bulk and it’s often fed to children. Australians also enjoy eating it fried, like spam. It is also known by other names such as fritz, circle meat, Berlina and polony, depending on where one lives on the continent. It's like in America, where people refer to cola as pop, soda, or Coke, depending on where they live in the country.


So, one can easily see why a young woman wouldn’t want to refer to herself as a processed meat product that can be likened to boloney or spam. "Wow, love that for us," another woman named Devyn wrote in the comments. “Tell me the name thing isn't true,” a woman called Devon added.

@dhalesss

#fypシ #australia #americaninaustralia #sydney #aussie

Besides changing her name, Dev shared some other differences between living in Australia and her home country.

“So everyone wears slides. I feel like I'm the only one with 'thongs'—flip-flops—that have the little thing in the middle of your big toe. Everyone wears slides,” she said. Everyone wears shorts that go down to your knees and that's a big thing here.”

Dev also noted that there are a lot of guys in Australia named Lachlan, Felix and Jack.

She was also thrown off by the sound of the plentiful magpies in Australia. According to Dev, they sound a lot like crying children with throat infections. “The birds threw me off,” she said before making an impression that many people in the comments thought was close to perfect. "The birds is so spot on," Jess wrote. "The birds, I will truly never get used to it," Marissa added.

One issue that many Americans face when moving to Australia is that it is more expensive than the United States. However, many Americans who move to Australia love the work-life balance. Brooke Laven, a brand strategist in the fitness industry who moved there from the U.S., says that Aussies have the “perfect work-life balance” and that they are “hard-working” but “know where to draw the line.”

Despite the initial cultural shocks, Devyn is embracing her new life in Australia with a positive outlook. “The coffee is a lot better in Australia, too,” she added with a smile, inspiring others to see the bright side of cultural differences.

The 1990s was a magical time.

If you grew up in the '90s then you were part of the last generation of kids who lived without being constantly connected to the internet. You lived during that last gasp of the analog era where most of your entertainment came on tape and if you wanted a new pair of Guess jeans or LA Gear shoes, you had to drive to the mall.

Also, if you wore parachute pant, aka "Hammer Pants," people actually thought you were cool.


Families mattered on Friday nights.

People listened to rock 'n' roll because it was important.

Hip-hop was at its peak.

People spent time talking to each other instead of staring at their phones.

It was a time of hope and optimism.

Some folks over at Reddit have been sharing funny memes that explain exactly what life was like in the '90s. From the terrible pastel-colored designs that were everywhere to the charming, but antiquated, technology kids today will never understand.

Here are 19 of the best memes from r/90s/.

1. 1994 was 30 years ago

via u/TBHMC

Sorry, if that made you feel old.

2. "Go! Go!" (Fill in the blank)

via u/phill080891

This person is living the Gen X dream.

3. Oh snap!

via u/pszjumwg

There was no greater diss in 1991.

4. Make a run for the border

via u/phill080891

Does this picture make you instinctively think "You quiero Taco Bell"?

5. In the '90s, every night was a Blockbuster night

u/chill2308

It's like looking back in time.

6. We'll always have Chuck E. Cheese's

via u/KazuChuu

Our immune systems were forged through miles of sweaty PVC.

7. Don't touch the 'purple stuff' 

via u/zraptorguard

Ingredients: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and 2% or Less of: Concentrated Orange Juice, Concentrated Tangerine Juice, Concentrated Apple Juice, Concentrated Lime Juice, Concentrated Grapefruit Juice, Concentrated Pear Juice, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Natural Flavor, Modified Cornstarch, Canola Oil, Sodium Citrate, Cellulose Gum, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Neotame, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Potassium Sorbate to Protect Flavor, Yellow 5, Yellow 6.

8. These actually existed

via u/Papash

How in the world did they cram 25 different colored pens into one super writing utensil?

9. Nu metal didn't last long

via u/TonyB973

A.D.I.D.A.S.

10. People aged quickly in the '90s

via u/IrieSunshine

This is what happens when you have children.

11. This weighed 25 pounds and went everywhere you went 

via u/mikerockitjones

I can still hear the sound of the rumpling plastic as I flip through the pages.

12. They got 'Jerry Maguire'? 

via u/afzalwas

Of course they have "Jerry Maguire." In fact, they have 500 copies of "Jerry Maguire."

13. The hippest computer lab ever

via u/DataDuude

After the iMac dropped, only vertified dorks used an IBM.

14. Just looking at this hurts

via u/90sAreStillAllThat

This may have hurt your fingers, but was probably safer than licking the battery to see if it still had "juice."

15. It's like they didn't want you to play solitaire

via u/drinkinswish


Solitaire wasted more people's time in 1998 than Instagram does in 2022.

16. In 1993 this could cure anything

via u/SnooPies7080

Stomach ache? Flu? Munchausen's syndrome? This unique combination would have you back on your feet in no time.

17. Synergy

via u/FlintTheDad

To quote a popular philosopher from the '90s, they went together like "peas and carrots."

18. This cup went perfect with pizza

via u/ThEhIsO8730

If the joint had all-you-can-drink refills, you drank 'em out of this cup. It held tokens, too.

19. The only pattern that mattered in the '90s

via u/BarefutR

Throw on those shorts, then hop in your Miata and get yourself some action!


This article originally appeared on 01.06.22

Pop Culture

SNL sketch about George Washington's dream for America hailed an 'instant classic'

"People will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

Seriously, what were our forefathers thinking with our measuring system?

Ever stop to think how bizarre it is that the United States is one of the only countries to not use the metric system? Or how it uses the word “football” to describe a sport that, unlike fútbol, barely uses the feet at all?

What must our forefathers have been thinking as they were creating this brave new world?

Wonder no further. All this and more is explored in a recent Saturday Night Live sketch that folks are hailing as an “instant classic.”

The hilarious clip takes place during the American Revolution, where George Washington rallies his troops with an impassioned speech about his future hopes for their fledgling country…all the while poking fun at America’s nonsensical measurements and language rules.

Like seriously, liters and milliliters for soda, wine and alcohol but gallons, pints, and quarters for milk and paint? And no “u” after “o” in words like “armor” and “color” but “glamour” is okay?

The inherent humor in the scene is only amplified by comedian and host Nate Bargatze’s understated, deadpan delivery of Washington. Bargatze had quite a few hits during his hosting stint—including an opening monologue that acted as a mini comedy set—but this performance takes the cake.

Watch:

All in all, people have been applauding the sketch, noting that it harkened back to what “SNL” does best, having fun with the simple things.

Here’s what folks are saying:

“This skit is an instant classic. I think people will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

“Dear SNL, whoever wrote this sketch, PLEASE let them write many many MANY more!”

“Instantly one of my favorite SNL sketches of all time!!!”

“I’m not lying when I say I have watched this sketch about 10 times and laughed just as hard every time.”

“This may be my favorite sketch ever. This is absolutely brilliant.”


There’s more where that came from. Catch even more of Bargatze’s “SNL” episode here.


This article originally appeared on 10.30.23

Health

Therapist shares 2 big reasons why energizing hobbies are the perfect happiness hack

There’s a big difference between “growth” hobbies and “rot” hobbies.

People enjoying energizing hobbies,

For those who feel like they could be happier but know they’re missing a key element, a therapist has shared her “hack” to happiness and it’s pretty simple: have an energizing hobby. The conversation about the happy hobby hack started on TikTok when marketing expert Harrison Swales noted that all his “successful” and “happy” friends have one thing in common: they enjoy energizing hobbies.

He added that instead of binging on Netflix or drinking all weekend, they were either in sports leagues or enjoyed creating things like books or videos instead of passively watching what other people make on TikTok.

"I don't know if it's directly correlated to your career and success in other areas of your life," he said, "but it certainly seems like it." The video went viral, amassing over 560,000 views and inspired a follow-up from therapist Israa Nasir, who shared the psychological reasons why energizing hobbies are so beneficial.


"This is literally the way to hack your happiness," Nasir said in response to the video, "and there are two reasons why this creator is totally accurate."

@israajnasir

#stitch with @Harrison Swales where is the lie? #neurosciencetok #happinesstips #positivepsychology #emotionalresilience

1. Sense of flow

"A sense of flow is being so present and immersed in the present moment, being completely where you are,” she said, adding that it’s a state where "mind and body [are] in the same place, and you're engaging in something that gives you joy or creativity or movement, boosts dopamine in your mind.”

"When we're able to engage in that long period of time in a state of flow, we have a slow, sustained state of dopamine," Nasir continued. "So that we feel happier for longer, which is the opposite experience when we do things like scrolling mindlessly or watching Netflix or mindlessly drinking."

2. Hobbies de-center work and romantic relationships

"If you think about it, your whole life is structured around work … and your romantic relationship,” Nassir explained. “So that makes us very flat and one-dimensional. By adding hobbies, we add more depth and dimension into our life."

She then had a message for the TikTokkers out there who claim they don’t have enough time for a new hobby. "Open your phone app where it measures how much time you're spending on social media and you'll see that you're probably spending three to four hours a day on your phone," she said. "So even if you cut that in half, you can make time for energizing hobbies."

So now that we know that energizing hobbies are a key to happiness, what are they, specifically? In the comments section, Nasir clarified what she meant by energizing hobbies, saying that they are any activity that helps you lose yourself or enter a state of flow.

That could mean dancing, doing puzzles, playing a musical instrument, playing golf, crocheting, metal detecting at the park, surfing, writing, or any other creative activity. One commenter compared energizing hobbies with those that aren’t beneficial. “I have growth hobbies and rot hobbies. You can guess which ones are energizing vs draining,” Curtis Lane wrote.

Karlie Smith shows the meal she's bringing to the restaurant for her son.

A mom who admitted she packs her 2-year-old a meal when they go out to dinner has started an interesting debate on TikTok about restaurant etiquette and how it applies to young children.

The video posted by Ohio mom, Karlie Smith (unbreakablemomma on TikTok), has received nearly 600,000 views and has over 1,850 comments.

“Call me cheap, call me whatever, but if we’re going out to a restaurant, I’m packing my kid a meal," Smith, 21, said in her post. "I do this for many reasons. On Friday nights, my family and I get together, and tonight, we’re getting food out. My son is not getting food out.”


"For one, you want me to pay $6.99 for chicken tenders and fries that my son is going to throw half of it on the floor? You’re crazy," she continued. "Also, whatever I pack is probably going to be healthier than what the restaurant has anyways."

Smith’s example of a $6.99 kids’ meal is generous. In some parts of the country, a kids’ meal will set you back a lot more than that.

@unbreakablemomma

Visit TikTok to discover videos!

In the video, Smith demonstrated what she prepared for her son's meal that day: a sandwich filled with peanut butter and jelly, banana slices, cubed cheddar cheese and a chocolate-flavored Lara bar, all neatly organized in a plastic container.

Smith added that when they get to the restaurant, her child can begin to eat immediately without having to wait for a server to take their order and the kitchen to prepare the food.

"I can just hand him this and let him go to town,” she said. “Also, my child is not opinionated. He does not care what he eats; he just wants to eat."

The mother of two created quite a stir on TikTok after posting the video, with some people shaming her for bringing outside food into a restaurant. Many felt she wasn’t being fair by taking a seat without buying a meal, while others thought the restaurant was a good place for a child to learn patience. Others felt she wasn’t being fair by eating a restaurant-cooked meal while her child ate food from home.

"$6.99 is not a outrageous price. Eating out is definitely a experience a child deserves while everyone eats out," Suki commented.

"It is sooo important that they learn patience at that age. The same two-year-old who doesn’t learn that becomes a screaming five-year-old," Heth added.

"Someone once told me if u can't afford to let your kid get whatever meal they want at a restaurant, u shouldn’t be eating out," Kiana stated.

"You are paying for the seat at the table, not just the food. The price of the food to the restaurant is a tiny part of it," LiverpoolLilac wrote.

However, many people felt for Smith and thought she was doing the right thing for her child and finances.

"This is a great idea and I will be using it! Why would I buy a 2-year-old a meal they won’t eat? People need to stop harassing you," Katy Brown wrote.

"This is great cause restaurant food is rarely healthy for kids. Always chicken tenders and grilled cheese or corn dogs etc, and fries fries fries," Luna added.

"This is so smart, my kids always waste out food & always eat what I make so thanks for this tip!" Ceryna said.

After the video was bombarded with comments, Smith told Today.com that, as a former server, she always leaves a tip that compensates for the food brought from home and cleans up the table.

Smith put out a follow-up video where she had some fun with the negative comments she received on the video.

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This article originally appeared on 5.26.23