Feb 24, 2013

The knife in our mouths

We were leaving church this morning when my daughter repeated something another girl said to her in Sunday School.
It was stunningly, breathtakingly mean, involving my daughter's appearance. My jaw dropped.
"What did you say to her?" I asked.
"I just smiled and said, yup, and I'm proud of it." She shrugged. "It doesn't really bother me. She didn't say it in a mean tone. She probably didn't even realize what she'd said."

My daughter is thirteen, the age when the knives in girls' mouths begin delivering lethal blows with precision. And I seriously doubted the other girl was as innocent as my daughter wanted to believe.

"Well, next time someone says something so awful to you, repeat it back," was my advice. "And then ask her how that makes her feel."

She shrugged again. "I don't want to stoop to her level."

!!! Is this my daughter? Part of my heart melted. She gets that generous nature from her dad's side of the family for sure. 

The other part of my heart hardened. My own mouth is full of sheathed knives ready to be thrown at the smallest provocation. It's an impulse I've worked hard to control...but one that served me well in middle school.  Using words like a skewer can be a protective skill. Nobody messed with me more than once.

"When someone is so naively rude, they must be corrected," I said. "It's like having your fly down - nobody wants to walk around with such a faux pas all day. Not only are you sticking up for yourself, you're doing a public service. Hopefully that girl will think twice before unleashing an unkind remark again."

"But, Mom, we're supposed to turn the other cheek," my daughter said. "We were in church, remember?"

I've thought about that all day. And I'm conflicted. Yes, as Christians we are supposed to love our enemies, etc.

But does loving our enemies include NOT correcting horrible behavior from others? What do you think?


Tez Miller said...

She's more mature than most adults, bless her :-)

Andrew Leon said...

I think, in this instance, your daughter is in the right. Turn the other cheek is the correct response. It would not be out of line for you to speak to the girl's parents in a polite manner and let them know what happened, but it's up to her parents to correct the behavior. It sounds like your daughter has a good grasp on whom she is, and the's the best defense anyone can have against unkind words.

Linda Jackson said...

You said: "Not only are you sticking up for yourself, you're doing a public service. Hopefully that girl will think twice before unleashing an unkind remark again."

Is it Christlike? I say yes, because Jesus did it all the time to the Scribes, Pharisees, and teachers of the Law. However, there are people, like your daughter, who just don't have it in them to fire back. I always root for the person who can and will do that, because I'm not bold enough to do it either.

T. Drecker said...

Yeah for your daughter! As for correcting them - it depends on the situation. I doubt the other girl would listen or care, and it might mount from there into a situation your daughter couldn't deal with as well.
There are times to fire back (without mean intentions), and times to ignore. The trick is probably in figuring out which is best in which situation.

Carrie Butler said...

Your daughter is wise beyond her years. :) I do agree with you, though. You can turn the other cheek without enabling the offender. I think it depends on the intent behind your words and how you go about it.

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Your daughter is amazing - not every kid (girls especially) have her self confidence. You must be so proud of her for that!

When I give advice to the kids I teach, I usually offer a couple different ways they could go about handling it and tell them to pick the one that feels natural/comfortable for them. The important part for me is to help my kids feel empowered when they are picked on, so that unkind words don't stick - as easily. The ways they feel empowered (saying something back or turning the other cheek) are different for each kid.

That self confidence your daughter has will take her very far in life. ;)

Kristin Baker said...

I love how your daughter reacted, but I also love how nobody messed with you more than once. As a lifelong victim of bullying, I always wished I had the ability to stand up for myself (I always freeze, to this day, and mean people recognize my disadvantage and stomp all over me).

I think in your daughter's case, she was probably in the right. Perhaps if the girl says something again and it signals the cruel words can become a trend, she can gently say something to let her know she won't tolerate being abused.

I had an incident when we just moved here, and one morning - at the end of the worst month of my life - my daughter's new friend's mother ambushed me at my house before school and LAID INTO me for at least 10 minutes about how what an irresponsible parent she thought I was, and she didn't even know me! I did nothing but stand there and cry. I still go over that awful morning in my head with a dozen different responses I could have made that would have put her in her place. If I a do-over, I wouldn't turn the other cheek, because I think in some cases it's very appropriate to show people that you won't accept their behavior.