This morning a reporter from Yahoo called to interview me about another layer of bad behavior that has surfaced, and this time it involves a child.
This morning Tom Brady is defending his daughter after she was called an “annoying little puissant” by Alex Reimer from the Kirk & Callahan show on WEEI.
Let me be very clear, no child should be bullied like that. Children do not have emotional filters like adults do. Five yr. olds are still using magical thinking and can easily decide that what someone says about me today, will be true about me forever.
This incident, in my opinion, is part of the larger lesson going on in our society right now. For months, we have been focused on how men treat women. A subset of that bad behavior is how people feel they have the right to defame people, bully people, just because.
I thought that Tom Brady handled this beautifully. He said, “It’s very disappointing when you hear that, certainly with my daughter or any child, they certainly don’t deserve that…”
Some people might say that his response was too lightweight, that he should have lashed out to defend his daughter. But I say, Michelle Obama’s famous quote was never more applicable, “When they go low, we go high.”
As a society, we are learning that you do not feed the beast, you do not want to resonate with someone’s negativity. That does nothing but bring you down to their level.
People who are rude, who exploit children for ratings, do not deserve our attention.
I believe, as a society, we need to learn that when we focus on stories like this, we are feeding the beast, we’re feeding the negativity, and giving the person exactly what they want, fame, attention, the spotlight.
What’s the better choice? What if the media began cutting coverage short on stores like this? What if the media decided that all the salacious, attention grabbing attempts to become known at the expense of others, wasn’t worth coverage? Sure, ratings may drop, but maybe the behavior would die down as well? What Tom Brady did was the perfect example of that. The media reported what happened, they got the ratings, but Tom shut it down by not responding negatively.
I’m sure you’ve seen people on the playground who say mean things about other people’s kids, while the mother is within ear shot. The war of words begins. The mother must protect her child, and the person who began the war of words is happy to step up and go toe-to-toe and win this argument. There is another way.
Again, Michelle Obama’s words work perfectly here; what if the mom who needs to protect her child simply says, “Excuse me?” and then goes silent. The pressure that accompanies the silence shuts down the war of words and places the onus on the bully to take the next step.
I believe it’s not worth it to lower yourself to a bully’s level. I wasn’t always that way. I did get into arguments with other women, especially when it came to my kids. And I am truly sorry that I acted that way.
Some may say how very Buddhist of you. It’s not Buddhist, it takes great restraint to simply say “Excuse me?” and then go silent. Don’t let me fool you, in my mind I eviscerated the person who dared to defame my child. But I have a bigger responsibility in situations like that. I am a role model for my children, and I have to walk the talk, and show them that this how adults handle situations like this, calmly, firmly, and respectfully, not like the lunatic who is being a bully. And isn’t that the kind of role model we should all be for our kids?
If what happened to Tom Brady happened to you, what would you do?