Yesterday I wrote about a schoolmate calling my child a not-so-nice name. It happens. Unless you’re one of the minority, you’ve probably been teased too. Even if you’re a rock star.
I have a theory about that, which I shared on Facebook after posting the link to Sticks and Stones.
First of all, I have to say how much I value my Facebook friends. The support I find there is second only to a heart-to-heart coffee chat in a girlfriend’s kitchen.
My Facebook status could say: “I’ve decided to become a nudist. Also, we’re buying a trampoline.” My Facebook community wouldn’t judge.
Instead they would mask their repulsion and offer supportive comments like, “I’m sure you have a sound reason for this alternative lifestyle choice. But be sure to bring a towel to sit on at the park. Those benches can be splintery. Also, you might want to consider some kind of protective eyewear while trampolining?”
Good friends, sound advice. And this always seems to be the case whenever I post a comment or question about parenting. It helps to know we’re not alone and to feel justified or at least not completely off base in our parenting choices.
Anyway, my theory….
Little children have no tact and that’s a fact. My son who is the most caring, well mannered boy (now) wasn’t exempt from making mortifying comments when he was little. Like the time at Wal-mart when he pointed to a large man walking toward us and said, “Wow! Look! (pointing, pointing) That man is really, really fat.” And yes, the man was in ear shot. I wanted to pull my turtleneck sweater up over my face and hide or at least take five giant steps away from the boy with the big mouth and inquisitive eyes and pretend not to be with him. Instead I gave him the look (you know the one) and hushed him with my dagger stare.
Once we were in the car, we had the talk. I explained about personal comments and how they can hurt people’s feelings. I gave examples beginning with, “How would you feel if…?” and “How do you think it might make someone feel when…?”
His comment wasn’t malicious. He was a three year old simply making a factual observation.
But what of children whose parents never teach those lessons? Or fail to model empathy and respect?
It’s possible the five year old who called my daughter Dumbo Ears didn’t mean any harm or maybe he was a total jerk and I’m just being naive. The fact remains, it is the parents’ responsibility to model and teach compassion and discretion. And, let’s not forget basic manners.
My children will be subjected to teasing again. That’s pretty much a given. But my husband and I will try to teach them how to handle it effectively when it happens.