My daughter witnessed a disturbing incident between two adults while a group of her friends were skating on our neighborhood pond this weekend. I had not been outside, but my husband and daughter recounted the details of how one adult spewed horrible remarks and profanity at another even though many children were present.
“Remember the time I threw up in bed. That’s how it made me feel,” my daughter said. And then she said while motioning with her hands, “He seemed so nice, but now I feel like there’s a barrier around him and I could never go near him again.” This person does reside in our neighborhood. "It makes me feel like I can't trust being at his house."
While I was bothered by the fact that she had to witness such behavior, I was amazed at how well she was able to describe how this situation made her feel. It is our practice to discuss our feelings, rather than just focus on the details of what happened. I was also struck by the fact that she placed the “barrier” around this particular man. It seems that many of us have a tendency to build a barrier around ourselves when we’ve been hurt by someone. We close everyone else out, not just the person who caused the hurt.
We can accept an apology and be courteous as we move forward, but self-preservation is equally as important. We have to do what is necessary to protect ourselves and our children from people who we find to be upsetting and hurtful. To quote Oprah Winfrey, "when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." At the same time, we can keep our hearts open to others. My daughter didn't put a barrier around all members of that family. It doesn't seem fair to blame a child for their parent or guardian's disrespectful behavior and break all ties. What are your thoughts?
Love and blessings,