There are moments when I wish I could protect any one of my children–step in their shoes, take on their pain, fix their hurt–but I can’t.
Not long ago my daughter was the target of unkind words said about her. Words stated, not by a fellow teen, but by an adult. The words the individual leaned on to describe my child were not only an outdated form of slander, they actually demonstrated that she clearly had spent zero time around and or in the company of my daughter.
I learned about it from a friend, a woman I trust. A woman who is close enough to the situation that I knew what she told me was true. She shared this ugly slice of life with me when my daughter was at school and she also informed me that my daughter was going to be told what was said by her own friend, the daughter of the caller. I felt sick.
At first blush I had visions of storming over to the other woman’s house and screaming at her. (And worse things but I will let you imagine them.) I wanted her to feel the pain that I perceived my child was feeling due to her thoughtlessness. The practical side of me knew I would not act on my fantasies, but the emotionally charged unhinged woman inside my head was begging me to rally a shit storm in her direction. Fortunately the rational side of me won out.
Instead I did a few things:
- Took a deep breath.
- Decided I would first discuss with my daughter how she was feeling.
- Contemplated my perception of what the other woman’s receptivity would be if I were to confront her.
Later that night I spoke with my daughter. It wasn’t the first time her maturity blew me away and I know it won’t be the last. Our conversation was lengthy and it is the outcome that I want to leave you with, my daughter who at the time was 15, told me that the comments said by the reckless adult said way more about the woman than it did about her. She articulated that the woman was insecure. She expressed that her concern was solely on what confronting the woman would accomplish–the potential severing of a relationship that mattered.
No, we cannot protect our children, what we can do is equip them to the best of our ability.
My initial perception was that the words that landed on my child would shave a piece of her away–the reality is–the words did hurt. The outcome however did not rob her of some essential part of her psyche, quite the opposite. The situation initiated a deep look at who she is, what she stands for and the sort of woman she wants to be. I heard her articulate how important it is to feel and give support. I listened as she expressed empathy for the woman, because clearly her sense of self worth was off–it had to be–otherwise she would not have the need to tear others down.
While cocooned inside my car talking, I was witness to the shadow of my daughter’s future womanhood; it revealed itself to me–there etched in her bone structure and glowing in the determined light cast from her eyes.