When my kids come to me with their feelings hurt because some other kid said something mean, I always ask them “Why do you care?” “Do you think what they think of you is more important than what you think?”
When my oldest son was about 3 years old, he came to me to tell my little Johnny didn’t like him. Before I could answer another mother said, “Oh, I am sure little Johnny likes you, he is probably just tired. I said, “Actually, little Johnny probably doesn’t like you and that is ok.” Little Johnny has a right to his feelings, but that doesn’t make them right and it doesn’t mean you have to care.
I don’t know why we set our children up to believe that the whole world is going to like them and that if they don’t like them, we should be sad.
There are plenty of people I don’t like. I do them no harm. I do not say mean things to them or make a voodoo doll or cast a spell on them. Sometimes I have a good reason not to like them and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they just rub me the wrong way and I don’t know why. If I can feel that way about someone, I assume there is someone that feels that way about me. As long as they do not actively try to harm me, I say, let them feel however they feel.
I also ask my kids “Why do you think they were mean?”
For years I have believed that people who are loved and valued are not mean. People are looking to belong, to have worth.
I, of course, know this because I was raised in a family where there was love, a twisted love, but love just the same. I was loved the only way my parents knew how to love. However, being valued and made to feel worthy were scarce and both my brother and I were on an endless search for it. One of us found it and the other, well, I believe he is where there is an endless supply.
I also know this because I have 3 children from China, who may or may not have been loved, but they most certainly were not made to feel valued or like they had any worth.
Quite the opposite.
Now they are loved and that has been most wonderful thing for each of our children, but it is the sense of belonging and value that has helped them face their fears and to have the courage to feel, and to be who they were created to be.
All 3 of our youngest children had walls built so high, I never thought we would knock them down. For 2 years when our middle daughter kissed us, she would divert her eyes. She was afraid to be loved because not being loved hurt to much. Being of who she was, a deaf, Chinese girl, in a culture where disabilities and being a girl warranted being tossed aside and forgotten. The price for being who she was way too high.
When she came to us at the age of 3, she had no personality and she looked like a boy. Over the past 4 years, she has had the strength and courage to fight and she has found her voice and she knows exactly who she is.
All of the kids went through transformations on their journey to being authentically them. It was not by magic, or time, or simply being loved. It was a long hard struggle by people who fought daily to help them see that they were absolutely valued and absolutely had worth.
Our children went from night terrors and tantrums to sweet dreams and peace. They went from punching and screaming to caressing and hugs. They went from pushing us away and looking away to jumping in our arms and asking for love. They went from doubting, subconsciously, that they mattered to knowing, fully conscious, that they do.
I watched this video and thought, wow, powerful. I also thought, this is what I have been saying and it didn’t take a breakdown to realize it, but then I thought, well, I might have had a breakdown or two or three.
I broke when my brother died and I broke again when I watched my daughter scream in heart wrenching pain from a nightmare I could not comfort her through. I broke again when I stood in that grocery store parking lot, helpless.
But, I came back from each of those moments of despair because I was constantly reminded by people who cared that I had value and I was worth fighting for.
When people don’t have a foundation of worth, they start looking for it in all kinds of places. Some in obviously destructive ways like drinking or drugs, but others do it more covertly.
Some do it by taking what was never theirs to take.
Stripping away peoples rights piece by piece.
Since I got my gun, I have been forced to pay a lot more attention to politics and have been made patently aware of what lengths people without a feeling of worth will do for power and control.
The constant effort to try to legislate gun control under the banner of “safety” makes me frustrated and scared.
I am frustrated because I know that most people with guns know they have value. They are fighting for it. They are fighting for the value and worth of their family and friends and even the little old lady down the street they have never met.
The value they place on their life and those around them makes them not the least bit dangerous. Their fight is to protect it, not take it away.
It makes me scared because I know the answer to violence is not found in legislation or in disarming Americans, but in finding ways to help people know their value and worth.
It makes me scared because I know that even though we know what to do there will always be people who do not feel valued or loved and will turn to violence as their answer.
Love, self worth, and value are the answer. Unfortunately, there will always be people who don’t get it. For whatever reason: bad parenting, life circumstances, society, choice…
I believe all people should be loved and valued. I have spent my entire adult life trying to add to peoples worth. But that belief is not a license to do harm and if one chooses to give into the despair, others should not have to pay the price.
Our right to protect our worth should not be given away to those who are unaware of theirs.