For more posts by Lori Wildenberg go to https://loriwildenberg.com/
A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
“She looks like she’s from another world.”
My four kids and I were sitting at the counter at Dunkin Donuts following one my kiddo‘s well-checks. A sweet treat following a painful shot seemed like a good medicine.
The rude observation came from the non-gentleman seated on the stool next to me.
By this time, I had become accustom to the bizarre things people say.
“Your kids all look like they have different dads,” a non-lady said to me as we were dropping our little ones off at preschool.
Rude. Insensitive. Beyond annoying.
Some people say really dumb things.
My oldest child had jet black hair and the younger ones were blond. I guess that gave people license to comment on my children’s looks.
To both comments I said, “Hmmm.” No reason for me to explain that we had adopted our oldest. No need to engage further. (Of course later in the day clever comebacks flooded my brain. I guess God made me a little slow on the draw, knowing if I was able to quickly wield my cutting words there would be many causalities.)
Today there is a term for insensitive but no malice intended comments, it’s called microaggression. This is how Wikipedia defines it: Microaggression theory is a social theory that describes social exchanges in which a member of a dominant culture says or does something, often accidentally, and without intended malice, that belittles and alienates a member of a marginalized group.
Microaggression is defined by the feelings of the receiver of the comment; if the person was hurt, even if the comment was not intended to harm, that is micro-aggression. In some cases folks who are accused of microaggression in the workplace are being re-educated and required to attend sensitivity training.
Love is kind.
I believe we should show our kids to be kind to all. We are all important and worthy in God’s sight. I believe we should train our kids to have empathy for another. God uses this empathy so we can help and build up others.
Yes, we should be mindful of our words. Words can build up or tear down.
But… we can all be carriers of “foot and mouth” disease; the virus of innocent yet hurtful remarks.
I have been on the receiving end of a few of those hurtful yet not meant to be hurtful comments. And I’m sure that I have unknowingly spoken some of those types of words myself. I’m guessing we all have been on both sides of the sensitivity/insensitivity coin at one time or another.
This is where we, the receiver of the careless or clueless message, learn to show grace. And maybe take the opportunity to train those who mean no harm.
Maybe those are times to ask questions like: “What do you mean?” or say something like, “I know you didn’t mean to harm so I’m going to show you a more sensitive way to express your words.”
If the heart of the person is in the right place, he or she would not mind a little on the spot education. He or she may even appreciate it. (I would appreciate knowing if my words carried a painful message.)
At the same time, we don’t need to be easily offended. We don’t need to go to the politically correct police for help. We can deal with issues ourselves as they arise. Or we can choose to overlook the remark.
My response in the above examples wasn’t the best. I didn’t engage, good. But I carried around bad feelings for years. Why would I give someone that power over me? They were careless comments for sure but I don’t believe they were meant to hurt.
As our kids grow, kindness and empathy need to be taught and lived so our growing children can learn how to demonstrate love to others.
And…our kids also need to gain the understanding that sometimes people are perhaps ignorant or not versed in preferred verbiage. In those situations the response is grace.
As a society, we have become overly sensitive and easily offended. When we have this type of emotional reaction we are focused on ourselves not on God.
Why not give people the benefit of the doubt? Why jump to offense?
No one likes an insensitive bloke. But at the same time, we can put these things into perspective and learn how to deal with those who are not always so pleasant and may be a bit socially awkward.
Because… what good is it to love only those who make us feel happy and don’t upset us?
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
Let’s train our kids (and ourselves) how to love those who are insensitive and how to respond to unkind yet unintended comments with grace. Then hopefully when we have inserted our own foot into our mouth, we will get “graced” too.
By Lori Wildenberg
wife to Tom, mom of four
Licensed Parent & Family Educator
Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting
Co-author of The 1 Corinthians 13 Parent Series
Raising Little Kids with Big Love and
Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love
and the Study Guides
If you live in the Midwest, please join Lori, Becky, and the 1C13P team
at the HeartCORe Parenting Conference in Minneapolis on November 1.
Click here for details.