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Some Rules Are Made to be Broken

Photograph by Getty Images

Respect your elders. We were all taught to do that, but what happens when the elder who influences our children's lives is someone wreaking havoc more than helping? My two sons—who are fabulously perceptive—had the insight to bring to my attention an authority figure in their lives who was insulting them.

"She said we were pathetic," my son told me.

"Yes, and she called me fat," my other son mentioned. "Why does she do that?"

I couldn't believe it. I know how the words we whisper to our children becomes their self talk in later years, and I have bent over backwards reminding them that they are kings and awesome and worthy of love just the way they are. The one affirmation I repeat to them every year on their birthday is, "I am so glad you were born."

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But that wasn't the case with this woman who was a big part of their lives. I reminded them that they were the authors of their own lives and no one's opinion matters more than their own. "You define who you are," I asserted, but they were harboring resentment toward her, and I didn't know how to handle it.

Kids won't remember the reason you hurt them or what they did to provoke it; all they will remember is the fact that you hurt them.

After speaking with her about it she explained that she used the tactic of hurtful words to get their attention. "You have to make it sting or they will keep doing it," she explained, and I sighed. I informed her that kids won't remember the reason you hurt them or what they did to provoke it; all they will remember is the fact that you hurt them.

After our little talk I sat my sons down and explained that some people try to hurt others with words because they are hurting inside and they can't help but release that pain through trying to make others feel the same way. The more you notice someone belittling others, the easier it is to assess that they are really unhappy inside. I explained to them that even though she is an adult she still hurts too, and they don't have to respect her opinion if it doesn't line up with who they know they are.

I reminded them of the "Me-First Rule" I had created: "No one's opinion matters more than your opinion," I repeated.

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"Whose opinion matters most?" I asked again.

"Mine," they responded in unison.

"Who decides what you are?"

"We do!"

"So what do we do the next time someone says we are anything other than kings and geniuses?"

"We ignore them."


"Because my opinion matters most."

Even when an "elder" tells you different.

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