Behavior modification

I’m actually kind of shocked that no one mentioned that the same lessons I want to teach my daughter, noted last week in my post Best behavior, would be just as valuable to my maba_pleasebemindful_signson. In fact, I was kicking myself for not acknowledging this in my post, because it’s 100% true. In any case, something had me thinking about my daughter that day and how girls need strong role models, and well, I won’t bore you with the rest. Just know that I desperately want my son to benefit equally from those lessons.

Which brings me to today’s musings. I had a conversation a couple of days ago with a friend, who shared with me her escalating frustration with her ex. The guy lives a couple of hours away, so they meet in the middle to pick up/drop off their son for visitation. It seems that lately, Mr. Ex has been getting quite handsy with my friend.

She told me that it started with Mr. Ex grabbing her backside while she was buckling her school-aged son into his car seat. She ignored it, but she noticed that her son was positioned to see everything.

The next time, Mr. Ex got bolder. He made the same grabbing move, but this time on the front side–if you know what I mean. My friend swatted his hand away and silently swallowed her indignation. Once again, she tried to ignore it.

I asked her why she didn’t tell him to keep his hands to himself (read: to get the he** away from her). She gave me an answer about not wanting her son to see his mom and dad fighting or to see his dad in a bad light or some such.

Back. The. Truck. Up.

I couldn’t stop myself from blurting, So you want your son to think that it’s okay to touch women inappropriately and without their permission? You want him to think it’s no big deal for a married man to grope a woman who is not his wife? You want him to grow up thinking this behavior is perfectly normal?

My friend stopped for a second and blinked. She hadn’t thought of it that way at all. She hadn’t realized that her lack of response was also teaching him a lesson.

My friend is a contemplative woman; she been on a constant journey of self-examination for the past several years. I know she has been chewing on this since our conversation, and I’m pretty sure she’ll handle similar circumstances much differently from now on–for her son’s sake, if not her own.

As I thought about her situation, it just reinforced my conviction about sending messages with our behavior. What we don’t do can be just as powerful as what we do.

Be mindful, always.

PS. In case you were wondering, my friend gave me permission to share her story here. 

Out of the blue

Oh boy, oh boy. I’m in the middle of a tough situation that I don’t know how to handle. That’s my problem, not yours, but it does give rise to an issue I find intriguing.

The issue is this. Sometimes life can be humming along–going well, badly, or somewhere in between, but at least moving in a predictable rhythm–and out of the blue, someone will ask a question that changes everything. Yes, the question itself changes things, the answer notwithstanding.

Simply by posing the question, I am thrust into a situation where I am expected to respond. Sometimes I’m even obligated, even if it is merely the result of social convention. Most of the time, even no answer is an answer itself; it says something about me.

So now I’m in a spot were someone has asked me a difficult question. I have to decide whether and how to answer, but no matter how I handle it, my behavior will send a signal all its own. I can ignore the request, decline to provide an answer, or tackle it head on. My actions matter just as much as my words.

I still don’t know how to handle my difficult situation, but I do know that I can’t take it lightly. I’m also reminded that when I am on the asking side, I need to be extremely judicious about the questions I pose. The receiving side of questions like these feels pretty uncomfortable, so if I’m doing the asking, I’d better have a darned good reason.

I know the person who asked me did.