As a little girl my most beloved grade school book was Charlotte's Web. The story was touching as it showed true friendship between Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig. Charlotte was loyal to Wilbur to the very end and Wilbur never forgot her short presence in his life. It's a classic tale of friendship, yes… but also empathy. Charlotte put herself in Wilbur's position and knew his potential untimely demise at the hands of the farmer could be prevented if she intervened selflessly on his behalf. We know if she was in his place she would hope he'd do the same for her. Which we know by Wilbur's loving character he surely would have.
When it comes to our children I believe any good parent would wish for the gift of empathy for their child. Empathy in children leads to becoming adults who care for others, who can make decisions with careful thought… they are better equipped to decide what is best for themselves but also weigh their choices out of respect toward others feelings… yet in that, to not go the other extreme and become people pleasers. We all want our children to grow up to be strong… to be resilient against bullies, against peer pressure and narcissistic sociopaths. Yet in that we don't want them to become hardened like some people in the world… we want them to have a healthy balance… and realize that although there are a few bad apples out there, for the most part people are good… and it's important to have empathy toward others.
A narcissistic sociopathic parent typically chooses between his children. He may make one the golden child (preferred), one the black sheep (discarded) and any others may fall by the wayside. A sociopathic parent doesn't have empathy… it's like he has a glitch in his system. He is not capable of love and placing himself in someone else's shoes…. to imagine what they must feel when enduring a hurt, offense, loss, etc. Since he's not capable of showing empathy his children suffer as well. This is why it's so essential for the healthy functioning parent to teach empathy as much as possible… in the hopes the sociopath's harmful behaviors can be overridden by the healthy functioning parent.
Here are three tips in helping instill empathy in your child…
1. Read To Your Child:
Think back on the childhood stories you read and I bet you'll see some similar themes in what they taught… empathy. Charlotte's Web, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little House, The Giving Tree are just a few that you can read to your child aloud at bedtime and then discuss. Encourage your child to think about the individual characters and how they likely feel about their experiences… ask them questions to get them thinking: "How do you think Wilbur felt when Charlotte died?" Doing this opens the door for kids to go on to more in depth discussions related to hurts, loss and death.
2. Stop Rewarding:
You may think you read that wrong. You may be thinking… "What? Stop rewarding good behavior?" It's fine to reward a child now and then… but to go and reward a child for helping someone else, for doing something kind, is just plain counterintuitive. It's telling them: "Here's a reward for what you did that should have been from the heart." Rewarding children for doing acts of kindness toward others sets up expectation i.e.; let's make a deal type thinking and "you owe me", versus giving freely as we should do and as God would want.
3. Model Empathy:
Think of ways you can model acts of kindness toward others that involve your children. Maybe it's putting together small bags of goodies for his or her classmates at Christmas or "just because". Maybe it's baking brownies for your mail carrier along with a sweet handwritten note. Perhaps it's washing your elderly neighbors car or planting flowers in the empty pots on their porch. Think of small ways you can add beauty to someone else's day and then involve your child. Afterward talk about how much it made your neighbor smile and how nice it is to help others.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
I see you sitting there worried and I know this journey you are about to embark on likely seems really daunting... I know you are probably feeling pretty scared right now. I also know that it's often the unknown that elicits the most fear in us... wondering how this will all turn out. This is will be a bumpy ride, it will. I can't and won't promise otherwise. There may be days you want to smash the picture of the two of you. There may be days you want to "decorate" your wedding album. There may be days you want to go to the shooting range and get some aggression out. There may be days you just want to drive and think... and doing that requires you using up an entire tank of gas to do just that. There may be days you sob that this was how it all turned out and yet you wonder if doing anything differently would have helped or mattered. There may be days you overeat Ben n Jerry's, donuts, beer and fried chicken and feel like a glutton. There may be days you buy all new sheets and towels and anything else that strikes your fancy just. because. you. can.
There may be days you miss him or who you thought he was or maybe who you wanted him to be and yet there may be days you know it's great he's gone. There may be days you want to spill your guts to your friends and cry... there may be days you want to talk about anything but him. There may be days you are met with kindness and there may be days you are ignored. There may be people who want to know the details so they can let you vent and help any way possible and yet there may be those who listen merely to share it with others and drop you like a hot potato.
There may be days you feel like a failure and there may be days you are reminded of the truth: you. are. not. a. failure. You are a strong person. You may hear people say that those who divorce took the easy way out. Their wrong. That couldn't be any further from the truth. You've been strong a very long time. And going through a divorce means gearing up for battle... it's long, arduous and costly... and it's an emotional roller coaster no one weak gets on. You may be a different person when you come out on the other side. You may be jaded, you may be less trusting, you may find yourself questioning everything and everybody... pray they will be patient with you. Remember this time and how you felt and more than likely you will become even more compassionate toward others. You may find yourself wanting to become isolated. If you find yourself beginning to pull away from friends and not getting out... that's a sign it's time to schedule something social... it's a sign you're struggling and it's okay... your true friends want to be there for you... let them listen and help you.
You may feel judged and whispered about and you may hear "I'll pray for you" and yet never hear from them again... this is a crucial time in your life... you will find out so much. You will learn who your true friends are. You will discover how loyal your bestie is. You will learn how kind your neighbors are. You will see if your attorney is going to weather the storm beside you and fight... you will find out how our court system works and may come to be miserably disappointed in the human race as a whole.
You may have times you simply must talk to someone because you're beyond exasperated and no one is around to listen. You may sob in the shower and regret ever meeting what's-their-face. You may swear off men. You may swear off women. You may swear off marriage. You may swear off love in the romantic sense.
You may have to hear about how your soon-to-be ex has met someone new and they are "so in love" and it sends you into fits of gagging and eye rolling. You may run into your ex-in-laws and wonder why you ever chose that family.
You may be shopping one day and while picking out a package of unblemished strawberries at the market sense someone watching you... looking up you see someone checking you out. You may find yourself smiling back. Or maybe you find yourself thinking "Ew. Get away. So. not. ready."
You may think "This will never end..." but it will. This too shall pass... one day you will look back and realize that yes, it was a long bumpy road but guess what?
You made it.
And not just survived.
But you're stronger.
What you went through has contributed to who you are now.
You're a victor.
You pushed through.
You pressed forward.
Now who are you going to help and cheer on as they go through their own battle?
I get messages often on Facebook from people telling me that just knowing "I'm not alone" means everything. Those three words... so small yet they hold such meaning and power.
Who can you tell today:
"You're not alone"?
Maybe there's someone you know who is silently hurting.
Maybe someone you know feels completely isolated.
Maybe they've started a journey you know nothing of.
Today, I encourage you to post your status on FB to:
"No matter what you're going through... you're not alone."
Someone will see it.
Someone needs it.
And someone will be helped.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary
and burdened, and I will give you rest.
33 “I have told you these things,
so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
Did you know one in school?
Did you know a girl who bragged to everyone how she had a phone, t.v., and cable in her bedroom? Maybe she only wore designer clothes, had "perfect" hair and made fun of you for wearing glasses, Levi's and braces. Maybe there was a clique of mean girls who kept their heads in a huddle of whispered glances and muffled laughs that you knew were directed at you.
Maybe you were the target of bullying, of having your locker doused with lotion ruining all your text books (true story), maybe you were snickered at or mimicked by others, maybe you were teased for being short, tall, blonde, underweight, overweight, shy, uncoordinated, studious, nerdy, etc.
Perhaps you felt as though your entire school career was one bad journey and you have zero desire to go back down memory lane.
Maybe you're sorry you even began reading this post because one of the previous paragraphs made you cringe and you don't want to be reminded of a time in your life you've worked three years, five years or ten plus years to forget.
At one time I believed if adulthood would just hurry up and get here already all the mean girls would be reformed and life as an adult would be a mean free zone.
I was so wrong.
I naively believed that when we sprouted from little girls to women we would all GROW UP. I thought women would cut through all that nonsense of "She's thinner", "She's prettier", "She's got a better life", "She's got a nicer car", "She has more money", "She has a better personality", "She's married to so and so", "She's carrying a better bag", blah blah blah. I mistakenly believed they would all walk in kindness and not size you up. When women do this… when they are envious of your looks, your home, your figure, your vacation etc… and then diss you… when you've done nothing but been kind toward them… it can definitely be an eyebrow raising moment and lead you to think…
HERE'S THE TRUTH:
SHE'S THREATENED BY A QUALITY
IN YOU THAT SHE FEELS IS LACKING IN HERSELF
No, you likely won't be friends with her because you can't "fix" an issue that is hers.
Her behavior has absolutely nothing to do with you.
(Read that again)
If as little girls and grown women we can remember that fact we will do well.
As an adult when you're not dealing with mean girls
that are your peers you may be listening to your daughters detailed
synopsis of her own dealings with mean girls in grade school.
No one really prepares us for how terrible adult mean girls can act.
There seem to be three top types of mean girl adult behavior…
although sometimes there may be a combination of two or more types.
1. Snobby Behavior:
The first mean girl behavior is the outright snotty kind who looks you up and down and assesses your look with critical eyes. You can read her thoughts on her face.... she shows them so clearly... "Hmmmm... real Louis Vuttion, DKNY slacks, a top that's probably a TJMaxx discount... and hair that was colored clearly from a box not the salon. And her nails? Ew."
She may be a narcissist, she's likely very insecure and yet believes herself to be quite superior to her peers. This type of behavior may be viewed as exactly what it is… rude yet amusing. Here's the thing… at least you know what you're getting with her. You can read her by the side long glance she gives you. Take the higher road and be kind (not buddies… particularly and specifically speaking if you have to work with her be nice) but otherwise ignore, ignore, ignore.
2. Indifferent Behavior:
Indifferent behavior is sometimes harder to pinpoint initially but eventually with time you get their number. She may if in a situation where it can't be avoided be forced to chit chat with you... usually about superficial stuff like asking which teacher your daughter got this school year... but that's about where it begins and ends. She won't typically seek you out. She seems to have an issue with you, as most of the time she appears to avoid you like the plague but you can't for the life of you figure out what it is because you've been nothing but super nice to her.
Typically if someone has an issue with you and you've done nothing wrong the issue lies within them. Maybe their jealous because you have something they don't. Instead of working on whatever it is their unhappy with it's easier to diss you. The best way to handle it is to take her reaction as the compliment it is however backward and continue to take the high road.
3. User Behavior:
The third mean girl behavior is the user. It seems nothing gets on my ever-lasting nerve more than a user… this is mean girl behavior that seeks you out only when she needs something off you… otherwise she doesn't know your name. Maybe she only knows you exist if she has a teacher gift to assemble and by the way… she needs a contribution of x amount of dollars from you… Pronto! Maybe she only knows you exist when her daughter needs an extra warm body at her birthday party but makes it abundantly clear you don't need to stay. Maybe she only knows of your existence when she wants the neighborhood email list for being "in the know" concerning all of the block parties. Maybe she only knows of your existence when you're having a party so she can snoop inside your house. Whatever her motivation is you know it's not sincere as a true friend's would be but instead she then drops you like a hot potato after she has what she wants and moves on.
Sometimes we may feel rebuffed by someone we genuinely attempted to reach out to in kindness and be friends with... leaving us bewildered and wondering what on earth happened... only later for your ex to become sudden friends with them, perhaps your bestie or a peer. It's natural to feel the sting of meanness or rejection but it's really not a reflection on you... and the truth is... they may not be good company for you to be friends with.
When dealing with a user or merely an unkind person the best way to handle them is to disengage. Cutting the cord with someone who uses people for whatever they can gain... whether it's lake access, status, a new job, etc is not a loss… you can't lose what you never had to begin with… they aren't your friend(s). Continuing to have contact with someone of this nature is comparable to having a hemmroid that's not capable of healing... a continual pain in the rear. Life is too short to go around like that.
As women all know it's stressful being around that... instead we can say no to letting her steal your joy.
The thing is…
when dealing with girls who are all grown up
and behaving mean we have to use discernment…
We have to figure out if she's just having a bad day or if it's a pattern of behavior we have observed over a period of time. If she's having a bad day, shower her in love and grace… cut her some slack. But if the behavior you've seen has been a continual issue for some time still be kind when your paths cross but at the same time it might be time to get distance from her and move on. Even as adult women we don't have to be at the mercy of mean girl behavior… we don't have to subscribe to it just because it might not match up with society's ideal image of social correctness for girls to just "be nice" at the risk of taking abuse... we have the right to decide to not go back for a second, third, fourth, hundredth helping of toxicity or mental nausea. We can say "I'm moving on."
MEAN GIRL BEHAVIOR
Didn't we get enough of this in Highschool????
It's always better to be less popular, less "in", less conforming than it is to have a mean girl in our midst.
Because no matter how beautiful a girl or woman is, if she's mean…
No amount of sugar or honey will make her sweet inside.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
5 Tips To Not Be A Mean Girl In Adulthood:
1. Include others, branch out of your clique. There is always someone who feels left out.
2. Don't judge someone based on their physical appearance. Use discernment and look at their morals, integrity, their heart… those qualities are what really matter.
3. No rude remarks… like "I'd love to give you a makeover", "You have hat hair today" etc. Use your manners.
4. If at work be professional and not catty. Don't use others to do your work to further your career.
5. Don't place stay at home mothers above working moms as superior or vice versa (women do all women a disservice when they attack other women as moms and how they define their role). If you're in the PTA don't ignore those mothers who can't commit the same amount of time or that choose not to.