What My 12 Year Old Taught Me About Forgiveness

My daughter, Alexis, is a special kind of kid. Yeah, I know, everyone thinks that their child is amazing but mine is. 😉

Anyway, she has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten. She loves it and believes in sisterhood and helping others.

Recently, a girl in her troop and at her school, we’ll call her Stacy, told Alexis that there was an Instagram account called I Hate Alexis. Stacy told her that it had Alexis the name of Alexis’s friend, Jennie, as the owner of the site. Jennie denied it but Stacy was insistent that it was Jennie because she had texted Stacy about the account. The account said the “Alexis is the worst, ugly and stupid.”

Alexis told me about it. I asked what she wanted me to do. She said she wanted some time to think about it.

The next day, Alexis said she believes it wasn’t her friend Jennie, but it was actually Stacy. She said she’d like to talk to Stacy first.

At school, Alexis, on her own, approached Stacy and told her “I know Jennie didn’t make the Instagram account. Do you know who did?” Stacy said no and ran away.

Alexis told me that she thinks Stacy did it based on how she was acting. Again, I asked what she wanted me to do. She said “nothing. I want to talk to her.”

The following day, Alexis approached Stacy. Stacy burst into tears and admitted to Alexis that she had made the account. Stacy said older girls told her that Alexis and other girls were making fun of her. These happened to be the same older girls who Alexis had told them to stop teasing Stacy a few weeks earlier.

Alexis told me after school that Stacy had admitted it. The account was taken down. I asked her if she wanted me to talk to the principal or have her removed from our Girl Scout troop. She said “no, if anyone needs the love and support of our troop, it’s her. I think admitting what she did was punishment enough. She has a rough life at home. Now we need to teach her how to handle bullying and her problems without hurting other people. That’s what Girl Scouts do. We forgive and support our sisters.”

I was stunned. I cried. My twelve year old had insight and emotional maturity that I didn’t have at that age or even at twice her age! She chose love over revenge and hate. She saw the way this girl was hurting and rather than hurting her back, she wants to love her and help her.

Over the next few days, I couldn’t get over Alexis’s reaction to this betrayal by a girl she considered a friend for years. That’s when the principal called.

One of the other girls attacked on the Instagram account had called the school to complain. The Vice Principal called me to see what I knew. I told him and said that as far as Alexis and I were concerned it was over and Alexis had forgiven her. He praised Alexis for her maturity and said he had to dole out punishment (because rather than helping people understand better ways to deal with hurt they punish).

In the end, Stacy received Saturday School and a mark on her permanent record but more importantly she received understanding, love and kindness, which hopefully will help Stacy learn to love herself enough to handle bullying appropriately.

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