Last week my 11 year old son, brought home a new friend from school to ‘hang out’. Being the dutiful mum I asked ‘friend’, (lets call him Tom) if he would like to stay for tea.
The conversation went something like this
Me: “Tom, would you like to stay for tea”?
Tom: “What is it”?
Me: Slightly surprised but thinking maybe Tom was simply being assertive.. “Well tell me what you would like Tom”?
Tom: With an exasperated sigh.. “Well how can I when I don’t know what there is”
Me: Taking a deep breath..”Well there are sausages, or Jacket Potatoes or Gammon…
Tom:not looking too impressed so I racked my brain to think of something more tempting
Me: “Oh I know, do you like Pizza”?
Tom: “Obviously” ..with a snort as though I was stupid
Me: Taking an even deeper breath…”Well, its not that ‘obvious’ Tom as Luke doesn’t like Pizza”
Tom: Heaved a great sigh and looked at Luke as though he was equally as stupid
It was finally decided it would be sausages…
30 minutes later….
Me: “Ok guys tea is ready”
Tom: “Finally.. the tea is ready”….heavy with sarcasm
Now at this point I had a choice to make, did I allow Tom to think this was an acceptable way to speak to someone or did I kindly educate him about having respect for people.
Calmly and lovingly I explained to Tom that he may be allowed to speak to his own parents like that but it wasn’t acceptable to me.
To give Tom credit, he apologised and the evening moved on. Did Tom thank me for his tea when he left the table? No but we can all forget manners sometimes.
Later that evening I explained to Luke that who we ‘hang out’ with is really important. Spending time with people who have little respect for others is not what true friendship is about.
I want my son to have relationships which will grow him as a person, not shrink him and the first step is to recognize what a respectful relationship is and what it isn’t. Being spoken to in a rude manner is not a sound basis for a friendship.
My son doesn’t say a lot but the next day when Tom came to call for him, Luke was out with another friend and we haven’t seen Tom since.
Is Tom role modeling behaviours which he has probably witnessed from adults in his family? Probably but we are all on this planet to learn how to treat others with respect and if Tom can learn this important lesson now, then he will have half a chance of being happy in loving relationships.
So the next time someone speaks to you disrespectfully, do you allow it or do you challenge it? Have enough respect for yourself to know you are worthy of being spoken politely and with consideration.
Bullying does not stop in the playground unfortunately.
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