This video came across my Facebook feed yesterday:
For those of you who aren't science fiction nerds, Wil Wheaton played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation in the '90s. He gave this answer at a Comicon gathering, which is a large convention for lovers of all things SciFi.
The answer he gave to this little girl's question about how to deal with people making fun of you is spot on. All of our kids will deal with this at some point in their lives. Someone else is going to try to make our kids feel bad about themselves. At some point, our kids will be called names or be put down by someone else. The important thing for our kids to know is exactly what Wil Wheaton said: When someone else makes fun of you, it's not about you. It's about them.
When someone else is picking on our kid, it's really hard to teach compassion and love because what we want to do most is go knock some sense into the other kid. But what our kids need to know more than anything is that most of the time, people lash out at others because they feel bad about themselves. They make fun of someone else because they feel inadequate in some way. They call someone else names because there's something going wrong in their own lives.
When another child calls our kid names or puts him down, we need to teach our kids that what others say doesn't matter. What God says trumps what another child can say every time, and God says our kids are masterpieces. God says they are made in His image. God says they are fearfully and wonderfully made. What other people say can't change that truth.
No matter the truth, though, words can sting. Words can wound a child's heart. Words can often do more damage than a physical injury. That's why it's so important that we teach our kids from an early age that mean words thrown at them by someone else don't have anything to do with them. We have to teach them that ugly words often come from a bruised and battered heart. We need to teach them to love that person and have compassion for them.
We should never let our kids be continually bullied, but we should teach our kids to pray for those who hurt them. We should teach our kids that no matter what anyone else says, those words can never trump the truth of God's words. We should teach them that love and compassion win out in the end. Because that's what God teaches us.