TikTok Mom Stirs Debate About Respecting Elders After An Older Man Scolded Her For Wearing A Hat Inside

Respect or blind obedience?

A mom is going viral on TikTok after an older man told her to take her baseball hat off while indoor...
@happywoz / TikTok

A TikTok mom and stress coach for parents shared an awkward but insightful interaction she had at her local library with an older gentleman who decided to insert himself into her business. Instead of acting offended and making the entire conversation into a “Karen at the Library” type video, she took the moment as an opportunity to educate an older generation and set an example for her young son.

Sandy Woznicki whispers into her phone while filming herself, retelling the conversation that just occurred and says, “I just got scolded by an older gentleman at the public library for wearing my hat.”

She goes on to say that he walked up to her and told her that she was being “disrespectful” by wearing her baseball hat inside the library. Instead of telling him to kick rocks and mind his own business (like I would have!), she decided to turn the interaction into a lesson.

“I asked him, ‘What does being respectful mean to you?’ He looked very puzzled,” she continued.

“So I said, ‘I have my three-year-old over there, like how would I explain to him what it means to be respectful?’ And he said, ‘Well, following the rules.’” And obviously there’s no rule about wearing a hat in the library. And I said, ‘Well, following the rules, that would be obedience, not respect, right?’”

He then told her that there is no difference between following the rules and respect and reminded her that she needs to “respect her elders.”

When she asked him to elaborate on that, he basically told her that respecting elders means if they tell you to do something, you do it.

“It sounds like you’re describing obedience, not respect,” she replied.

She explained to him that being respectful to her means to be kind and understanding of other people, not exhibiting blind obedience just because they have a couple years on you.

“After that, I just introduced myself and I shook his hand and I said, ‘I really hope you have a nice day,’” she explained.

Woznicki says that this interaction perfectly exemplified the difference between authoritarian parenting and conscious parenting.

“Authoritarian parenting confuses respect and obedience, and to follow rules for the sake of following rules, and often those rules are based off of preferences, not logic,” she said.

“So, I’m trying to teach my son question and challenge, and that’s OK.”

Woznicki’s video quickly picked up traction — gaining over 2.3 million views in just a day — with almost 10,000 comments from users debating the rules behind hats inside, if she should have just let the man have his win, and praising her for setting a great example for her son.

“Your child’s emotional intelligence is going to be off the charts. We need a whole generation of parents like you,” one user wrote.

Another said, “So impressed by how you handled that situation! Responding with curiosity instead of your opinion can open minds🤗”

Other users debated about where the “rule” to take off hats indoors even came from, and why older generations are such sticklers without ever knowing the “why” behind it.

“What’s interesting too is I think he got the rule wrong… I was always told as a kid it was only ever rude for men to wear hats indoors but not women,” one user wrote.

“Hmm. It’s true. I remember rules like this when I was a child and I would get in trouble because I wanted to know why,” another said.

The OP replied, “Maybe at some point there was a logical reason for the rule 🤷🏻‍♀️”

“my parents tried raising me with all of these kind of rules but they never made sense. How does having a hat on make any difference to anyone but you?” one user noted.

Another TikTok user did some research and reported back, writing, “I ran to Google to look up hat etiquette for women. Emily Post says hats off especially baseball in a library. I never knew. Old rules of course.”

Are we going to try and believe that this older man was privy to the etiquette stylings of Emily Post? Or can we agree that he probably was just an older, entitled man who felt the need to tell a younger woman how to do something because, well, he’s an older man.

In a follow-up video, Woznicki notes that several libraries also chimed in and said that they have never heard of this “no hats in the library” rule and do not find people wearing one inside disrespectful at all.

Despite the debate, she says that her original video was never really about the hat, but about the definition of respect.

She continued, “It’s about what do we value. Sure, there’s a dictionary definition of the word, but what does it mean to you?”