Forgive them even if they’re not sorry. That’ll really piss them off.

What I say to my small daughter when she’s nine:  Kids can be jerks but the best thing to do is to forgive them, even if they’re not sorry.

What I will say to my small daughter when she’s sixteen:   You should forgive people even if they’re not sorry because those people sound like real assholes and it will piss them off like crazy if they realize you’re forgiving them for being the dickheads that they don’t think they are.  Even better, just walk up to them and put a hand on their arm and say, “I forgive you.”  Then walk away.  And then you can feel better because you’ve fucked those assholes right in the head.  And also because forgiveness is next to Godliness.  Or cleanliness.  One of those.

Regardless, forgive them and you win.  Even better, forget them completely and then keep introducing yourself to them so they realize they’re not important enough to remember.  Then look at the note you wrote on your arm which says “Stop saying hi to Potato-face.  She’s an asshole to everyone and you always forget that.” Then nod to yourself and say, “Oh.  Sorry, Potato-Face.  Never mind” and walk off.  That way Potato-Face realizes that you’re trying to being polite and gracious.  And that’s important.

173 replies. read them below or add one

  1. Retaliatory forgiveness. Love it!

    Like

    Cassandra recently posted The Potty Petition: No More Bodily Functions on TV and Film.

  2. I love the idea of continually re-introducing yourself to them. There’s nothing that stings like the idea that you are that forgettable. Totally stealing this idea!

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  3. Genius. Driving people crazy is the quickest way to true happiness.

    Like

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  4. But first, be sure to tell your daughter “what assholes those assholes are, how horrible you’rte forced to deal with their shit!” (Or whatever more kid-friendly word. g)

    Because my mom always told me that they were just being assholes because they were insecure/feeling jealous/whatever and that I should understand them. This made me feel that she was not taking my side against the assholes, but rather telling me that I was the one who was doing something wrong by being hurt and angry.

    I know my mom was right, and that she absolutely didn’t mean it. But I just wanted her to say something like “those assholes”, and be done. Her plea for sympathy for the aggressors made me feel like shit.

    Probably other people aren’t as neurotic as I am, but… yeah. Just wanted to menhtion that.

    Like

  5. Uhm, what I meant was that I know she absolutely didn’t mean it the way I took it. Argh, lack of editing ability is a curse!

    Like

  6. This is SUCH good advice…and so hard to do. At least for me.

    I needed this reminder

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  7. Your daughter is SO lucky. Fucking awesome advice!

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  8. EPIC!

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  9. 10
    SweetCaroline

    I am XX years old and (no, not 20, I’m trying to hide how old I really am) and this is the best advice I have ever received in my XX (not 20!) years. I am going to try this on my brother, who currently hold the Biggest Dickhead Title for the XXth (not 20th!) year running. Forgiving him, then reintroducing myself – what a great idea! Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  10. That’s some of the GREATEST advice I’ve ever heard!

    Like

  11. Parent of the Year 2014! Great advice.

    Like

  12. I love you so much. This is amazing. And yeah, I like the idea of introducing yourself over and over to dickheads!

    Like

  13. Good advice, I am totally trying the re introduce myself thing next time someone annoys me.

    Like

    Tim recently posted Hobby Farm Boy.

  14. I have told my daughter this same thing (maybe not with the dickhead lol) many times but she just can’t seem to do it. Of course, she thinks somethings wrong with anyone that doesn’t absolutely love her anyways.

    Like

    Stephanie@themadchatters.com recently posted Daughter = Terror.

  15. Umm, Jesus started that didn’t he? Then he said that it would keep happenin’ even after He left. I think you’re just like Jesus Bloggess!

    Like

  16. How did you know I was thinking about asking your advice for my niece? Seriously.
    This is beyond timely. You have serious technomagical powers.

    Like

  17. Ha ha ha ha! You should write a book on parenting next.

    Like

  18. I love this. Where were you when I was nine?

    Like

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  19. Oh my goodness. I can’t wait until you relay actual conversations you and Hailey have when she’s older. They’re sure to be epic.

    Like

    Jess recently posted Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade.

  20. This reminds me of a great article I read recently called “10 Things Forgiveness is Not” It’s Christian-based, but has some really good non-biblical applications as well, I think.

    http://marshill.com/2010/09/27/10-things-forgiveness-is-not

    Like

  21. Huh. When Phoebe (“hollow bones”) on 30 Rock kept reintroducing herself to Liz Lemon, I never took it as Liz being dissed. That gives a whole new meaning to those scenes. Interesting.

    Like

  22. Great advice, but now I’m kinda of afraid of what your version of “kill ’em with kindness” might sound like. I worry the word “stabby” would be included.

    Like

    Shelley J recently posted I can't be expected to blog during the World Cup.

  23. Best way to deal with assholes, hands down. No more prison sentences for breaking people’s faces for me! YAY!

    I haven’t utilized the note on the arm idea. It will really streamline the process.

    Like

    walkerwhimsy recently posted Platforms and The Ripple Effect.

  24. Also, when she re-introduces herself, she should look them in the earlobe – NOT the eye!
    Every time she sees them, look at their earlobe.
    No one else will notice what she is doing, but it makes assholes CRAZY🙂

    Like

  25. To add to what Cassandra said (Retaliatory forgiveness) in the comments: And, retaliatory forgetfullness.

    Like

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  26. I continue to learn the best life lessons from you. I appreciate that.

    Like

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  27. Best. Advice. Ever.

    Like

  28. You should really start your own church. It can’t be confused with a cult if you talk about forgiveness.

    Like

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  29. 32
    Jessica HZ

    Sylvia, I totally get that. It’s like pitying bullies makes you stronger than they are, or is supposed to make you feel superior in some way. Total BS.
    In fact, recent research has now shown that bullies really don’t feel all that bad about themselves. So they really, truly deserve no pity.

    Like

  30. So so true.
    I have been repeating Stillwater’s story to myself since first reading Zen Shorts to my daughter many years ago: “I set the woman down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_Shorts

    Like

  31. Mean people suck and the only way to get past it is to let it go and karma will be the bitch.

    Like

    Michele recently posted Preachin About Reality.

  32. Some people say that being bullied makes you stronger. These people have obviously not been bullied. It made me feel isolated and paranoid and still affects me to this day.

    The one area where it did make me stronger, though, is in regarding other people’s opinions of me. Once I was in college and away from the bullies, I realized that I just don’t care about most people’s opinions. I’ll take nearly anyone’s positive comments. Negative comments from some family/friends are taken to heart. Random people’s negative comments, though, get ignored.

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  33. @Jessica HZ,

    When my bullies were confronted about what they were doing (by my best friend who happened to be on speaking terms with them) and what it was doing to me (paranoia, anxiety, social isolation, etc), they remarked that they were “just having fun” and didn’t think they were doing me any damage. After my friend talked with them, they stopped. In other words, so long as tormenting another person was “fun” to them, they easily ignored how they were hurting me. When they could no longer ignore it (when it was pointed out to them), they stopped. Whether they moved on to torment other people, though, I don’t know.

    Not all bullies are alike, but sadly too many people seem to regard knocking someone down and/or tormenting them as a fun activity.

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    TechyDad (@TechyDad) recently posted Sleepless Nights Approaching Surgery.

  34. 37
    CountingFireflies

    Rough day? Give me a temper tantrum over ice cream ANY day rather than dealing with kids being less than kind to MY kid. It’s a mallet to the gut.

    Like

  35. I need to share this with my just turned 10 years old daughter and lots of grown ups. Thank you!!

    Like

  36. I’m not 9, or 16, but I love this idea. Especially the part where you tell them you forgive them. Awesome!

    Like

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  37. I’m gonna forgive you SO HARD. Right in the face.

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  38. 41
    easternpanther

    There are very few people that I am glad are parents. You are on that very short list. Oh, and Sylvia, I had a similar experience growing up and agree that it felt (at the time) as if mom was siding with the enemy.

    Like

  39. 42
    easternpanther

    @ techydad – I’m glad you had that experience. The other side is what happened in several cases at my school as a kid. “Let’s see if we can torment her until she needs to go to an institution.” Yes, I am quite serious, and in the one case it worked, they saw it as a victory.

    Like

  40. I forgive you for not knowing you should be sorry for not being my for real therapist, because you’re way more helpful anyway. I mean, if I actually had a therapist.

    Like

  41. Hell, I’m 20 and I’m going to use this advice. Thanks!

    Like

    Rachel recently posted Gum.

  42. Fabulous advice.🙂

    I’ve told the Girl that So-n-So who was hateful/rude to her shouldn’t even be a blip on her radar.

    Like

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  43. This is why you are awesome!!!

    Like

  44. I also really liked Stephen Fry’s advice to counter bullies.

    Just say “No, no, don’t hit me! I’ll get an erection!”

    Obviously, this doesn’t work as well for ladies, so I like your version.

    Like

  45. Kill ’em with kindness is something my mom always taught me. It’s gotten me far (and pissed MANY off).

    Like

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  46. I like the old way of looking right at a person and then deliberately turning away as if they were beneath notice. But I am antisocial, and don’t like talking to people much, anyway.

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  47. Excellent advice.
    Now, where will she put the note that reminds her to look at the note on her arm?

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  48. My daughter came home from VBS once when she was about 7 or 8 (she’s 18 now) saying: “The Bible says that if you are nice to people who are mean to you it is like heaping BURNING COALS upon their heads! Like, putting fire on their heads!”
    Me: Honey, I think you have completely missed the point.

    Like

    Marianne recently posted Life Lessons.

  49. Wonderful advice which I usually try to follow. I do find more peace in myself that way. However in the case of my ex I’d much rather he was a victim of spontaneous human combustion, but it’s probably still too early, I’ll get back to you in a decade or two re that one.

    Like

    1. it starts in middle school the worst. I don’t know what it is about 6th grade that turns those sweet little kids into raging assholes but it happens in 6th grade.
    2. My 12yo daughter has perfected the “I’m soy you feel that way” apology and the “I forgive your angry/hurtful words” which is what her preschool teacher used to say to them when they yelled something out of hatred or anger. This tends to stupefy the other kids in their moments of spewing hatred at another kid.
    3. Its caught on. the other kids in he group have started using these and its quite hilarious.

    Bullying is never going to go away but you can am your kids with these kinds of things and make them witty and self confident so they don’t feel the pain of just words.

    Like

  50. Awesome advice indeed!
    Bloggess - Forgive

    Like

  51. This is much better advice than what I did in high school, which was just say, “Do I look like your mama” and then beat them up in self defense. The Passive Aggressive Aggressive Bully. That was me. Redundant too.

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    Michelle Grewe recently posted Etiquette to Giving a Proper BJ: don't blow it... by A Former Slut.

  52. I actually did this very thing when I was 9, and it worked. Drove bullies bonkers. It didn’t stop jerks from being jerks, mind, but it did make me personally feel much better about having to deal with them.

    Like

  53. Other people’s kids are almost always assholes.

    Like

  54. Amazing timing! I found myself in a waiting room with a woman who did rotten things years ago. She kept attempting to place where we’d met but I wouldn’t give in — until I told her that I had been promoted to her boss.

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  55. Someone I already met reintroduced themselves to me the other night, so I said “WELL, YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE, TOO!”
    Thanks, Jenny!

    Like

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  56. There is a reason I am an ardent fan and read your blog religiously (without the Jesus part) – this post stated it perfectly. keep on keeping on.

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  57. When my daughter was 4, there was a little girl in the playgroup that the other moms encouraged their daughters to avoid because she was so mean. I saw this as an opportunity to teach my daughter social skills for life. I practiced with her what to do when “Claudia” was mean. Her response, “Claudia, I can’t play with you when you act this way – maybe we can try again tomorrow.” With time Claudia’s behavior changed and my daughter learned to advocate for herself.

    Like

  58. HAHAHA……genius!

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  59. Thankfully I never had bullies. The bullies at my school tended to steer clear of me after I demonstrated my dislike of their bullying in my presence. A couple of popular girls were making fun of a poor girl and her clothing. She also smelled bad ( I knew. I sat behind her.) But none of that was her fault nor did she deserve the shitty comments. So I stood up, walked to the ring leader and whacked my economics book across her face, knocking her out of her chair. Then informed the rest of them that I would shut them up too if it continued. They shut up. The girl was able to go to at least one class free of torment. I got detention, but the teacher in charge of detention liked me so I skipped it as usual. I cannot abide bullies, and in my experience, sympathy doesn’t stop them. A book to the mouth does. None of the assholes ever bullied anyone in my presence again. Maybe they learned something, because several of them have tried to friend me on Facebook. I could not care less. Perusing their pages hasn’t shown much change from the shallow teens they used to be. So their request goes ignored, neither accepted nor declined. That way it exists in a state of pending, so they know I’ve ignored it.

    Like

  60. 66
    jennypenny73

    I really hope forgivness is next to cleanliness, because my place is a mess. So it only stands to reason, if I start forgiving people, my place will become clean. Right?

    Like

  61. My husband used to yell at me for being super nice to a certain person in my life who is awful to me but who I have to deal with. He was like “You look desperate! Stop it!” and I was like “Nope because no matter what you might think, she will always know that I’m a better and nicer person than her. AND THAT WILL DRIVE THAT BITCH CRAZY!!!!” Muwahaha

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  62. I always feel like being extra nice/polite is the best response to assholery, for several reasons. a) they’re not prepared for it; b) it makes them look even worse by comparison; c) there’s already so much asshole out there, I’d rather not contribute more.

    Like

  63. I love this so much.

    Like

    tara recently posted outstanding in the field.

  64. Haha, words of wisdom delivered with honesty and humor!
    The lessons assholes realize on their own after the fact is almost better, I like to think they’ll lose sleep over it long after I’ve forgotten.
    Big love,
    The Just Mildly Medicated gal

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  65. I’m going to use this at work starting right this minute!🙂

    Like

  66. Forgive them & wish them well
    Shock & Awe

    Like

  67. Awesome parenting advice! 😀

    Please tell Hailey that it gets better in time.

    Like

  68. If you’re going to go around forgiving everybody, you better watch out for Pontius Pilate.

    Like

  69. Yup…I’ll be passing this along to all my adult friends too.🙂

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  70. Is potato face related to potato head?

    Like

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  71. Kill ’em with kindness!

    Like

  72. Sage advise. No arrest record for assault. Better yet, have her incite them to hit her and she can have them sit in the clink thinking about what jerks they are. Plus they’ll get a reputation as jail birds!

    Like

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  73. 79
    Rick Mackey

    Been doing this for years. I often forgive friends and family even when I’m wrong and they correct me. It drives them up the wall.

    Like

  74. Sylvia (comment 4) I totally understand what you mean. I was never allowed to ‘have’ my feelings, either. I was always told to ‘be the bigger person,’ and ‘turn the other cheek’ no matter what the other person had done. It’s like, everyone else is allowed to be as big an asshole as they want, but you have to be a total angel. No matter what they do to you.

    It’s horrifying. I like my coworker’s style of parenting better. She says; if they hit you, hit back. Always stand up for yourself. And I’ve met her daughter; she’s the sweetest little girl ever.

    Like

  75. 81
    Kat Bajot

    Dear Hailey, always be better than those that hurt you. That way you are never embarrassed later by what you did and they always are.
    PS there is no cure for potato face. There is a cure for being an asshole. Give them a reason to get better at that one!

    Like

  76. Im always super nice to the grumpy ones, because it pisses them off worse that they cant make you mad. I`m evil like that.

    Like

  77. Kids are D-bags.

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  78. i wish comments had a thumbs up or “like” button i can push when i totally agree with someone and an LMFAO button when a comment made me do just that.

    Like

  79. Best advice I’ve heard all day. Now what advice would you give to her if 5 people asked her out on dates all in the same day and she didn’t really want to go out with any of them, but said yes because she didn’t want to hurt their feelings after they worked up the courage to ask her out in the first place? And by her, I mean me. This being single again isn’t bad but dating again sucks.

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  80. I did not realize the forgiveness was next to cleanliness. Does that mean that if I can’t forgive them, I should at least give them a moist towelette?

    Like

  81. I’m pretty sure I’m going to start doing that now and I’m a “grown” adult. Thank you, Potato-Face.

    Like

  82. 100% true. I ran into an old bully of mine at a friend’s wedding. I sat down next to her at a table to talk to a different friend and legitimately didn’t even notice she was there. She finally broke into our conversation to say hello to me, and because I had forgiven her years ago, it was super easy to be nice and friendly to her…which appeared to make her so uncomfortable it wasn’t even funny. She spent the entire rest of the reception looking like she was just waiting for me to go off on her for how horribly she treated me in school, which of course never happened because she means precisely nothing to me now, and I actually felt a little sorry for her. For those of us who were bullied, forgiving and moving on is our closure. But even if a bully apologizes and is forgiven, they can’t undo what they did. They’re the ones who have to live with it in the end.

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    Spoken Like A True Nut recently posted Don’t mess with my Zen, man..

  83. 89
    Samitizer

    I told my teen-aged daughter to picture telling them to “Go Shit in-a HAT!” Because you can’t without laughing at that mental image! She is turning 18 and I can still say those words and she will laugh so hard she cries, snorts and gasps for air! One day we were talking about it in the car with her best friend which lead to a whole discussion of “What kind of HAT do you picture?”

    Like

  84. I love this. I am always on my kids about forgiveness. you ma’am are awesome.

    Like

  85. I just recently…as in two days ago, went through a break up and I feel like this is a very poignant post. I forgave him for being a prick and using me, and then said, “Get out.” He was shocked. “Can’t I at least have a hug goodbye.” No…was my response. After almost four months of a great relationship he realized that he wasn’t ready. I call Shenanigans!! And then…I posted my most recent post. I hope you enjoy🙂

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  86. Smile sweetly at the assholes. It really pisses them off.

    Like

  87. Wise and sensible child-rearing advice, which I will try to remember and use.

    Like

  88. 94
    Maggi Oswald

    And the assholes will be easy to find, because they will have been hit by glitter bombs and you can see them coming for miles.

    Like

  89. 95
    Auntie Meme

    Could I hire someone to forgive others for me? And maybe rent myself out to hold other people’s grudges for them? Gotta capitalize on my strengths.

    Like

  90. Kill ’em with Kindness …

    Like

  91. Hehe. Fabulous advice that I will use even though I am almost 50 and not getting bullied on the playground anymore.

    Like

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  92. You know that scene in The Help where Celia (Jessica Chastain) goes to Elizabeth’s house to play cards and brings a pie and everyone acts like they aren’t there, then laugh at her? Yep that was my childhood, and happens once in a while in my adulthood. It would have been nice to have someone tell me kids, (and grown ups), are assholes. You better believe I’m telling my kid that, for sure!

    Like

  93. Forgiving asshats, not my strongest quality. Nodding and smiling while I think about what douchebags they sound like, got it.

    Like

    kstewand4cats recently posted You’re Welcome, Perverts..

  94. When someone who was a jerk to me in school recognizes me while I’m out, I always pretend I don’t remember them. It’s amazing. I’m 32, btw, and retaliatory asshole/potatoface forgiveness is still a viable strategy.

    Like

  95. 101
    wombatcentral

    Absolute brilliance: then keep introducing yourself to them so they realize they’re not important enough to remember

    I know a few potato-face jerk adults that I’m finally learning to steer clear of.

    Like

  96. truer words were never spoken!

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  97. That sounds so cruel!😉 I love it!

    Like

  98. 104
    @shthisisme

    What great perspective, and good advice.
    And this is techonomagical because the me that was bullied and mocked 35 to 40 years ago just felt a friendly hand laid on her shoulder.
    I wish forgiveness was next to cleanliness, my house would be immaculate, it would be advancing buckets and mops right outta frickin’ Fantasia over here.
    Please pass on our thoughts of encouragement to your daughter , and our promises that nasty people won’t get the last word and truly will be insignificant in a few years.

    Like

  99. 105
    @shthisisme

    +dancing + dancing buckets and mops. Sorry.

    Like

  100. I’m sad for Hailey that something happened to make this lesson necessary. My best to you all.

    Like

  101. Sounds like we are having similar conversations with our girls…….. If her trouble is with a friend behaving badly (or former friend), may I recommend a book? A neighbor gave us “The Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles” and it has been a tremendous help in helping my seven year old come to terms with a very sad and ugly situation. It is down to earth and gives a lot of good advice without being sappy or harsh. It helped us to talk about what is happening and reinforced that it is not her fault.

    Lots of love to Hailey and to you as well – it is doubly hard as a mom to watch kids being cruel and knowing there is only so much you can do about it.

    Like

  102. 108
    Ginny Franz

    Honey, you are a wonder.
    My favorite Proverb:Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding. I think you really understand.

    Like

  103. Now that is some awesome advice. Might take that on board myself.🙂

    Like

    Kattie recently posted Hurt.

  104. Or you can stab them in the neck. Disclaimer: this is how we roll in cell lock D.

    Like

  105. 111
    Lisa-Marie

    The voice in my head read that in a Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey kind of way. And it was perfect.

    Like

  106. 112
    Rachel CrazyMum

    Great advice, Bloggess! It is so difficult raising children to stand up for themselves without being aggressive, and peaceable without being a doormat. I would recommend reading ‘Queen Bees And Wannabes’. Can’t remember the author off the top of my head, but it is easy enough to find. It is a great book covering girls’ cliques and bullying, and how to deal with it. When my daughter (now 12) was going through some rough stuff, this book helped me find the words to talk with her. I could validate her feelings and steer her towards discussing a solution: ” I can see how upset and angry you are, and I don’t blame you for feeling that way. I would feel the same way too. Would you like to discuss ways to deal with it?” We could talk about the background of the child involved, but I always allowed her to feel the way she felt. Forgiveness is the next step to take, I suppose. Plus, if cleanliness is involved somehow, it might help her room stay a bit tidier ^_^

    Like

  107. Really wish someone had told me about the constantly reintroducing yourself bit when I was in high school!

    Like

  108. Forgiveness is freedom. If.it happens to also be payback that you can’t be guilty about, all the better.

    Like

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  109. This was more timely than you can imagine. I’ve been saying all day that I’ll never forgive my family for hurting me so much. I’d love to walk away today and pretend I couldn’t care less, but it’s not that easy when you’re stuck with them. What I would give to be able to reintroduce myself each time and make them see how happy I can be without them. Ah, why must life be so complicated? I hope your daughter takes your advice, because it’s pretty great.

    Like

    Kelli recently posted Unexpected Hospital Stay.

  110. A friend of mine gave me the best advice for bullies-
    Any time that they’re saying mean things about you, you only have to say
    “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
    And don’t let it rile you up beyond just saying that phrase. And be sincere. Mean what you say.

    Like

  111. You are the Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon and certainly could charge more than 5 cents for therapy.
    Wise words….wise words.

    Like

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  112. And when she’s 21, tell her to surround herself with people that love & care about her, and to tell the rest to fuck off. That’s the beauty of coming into your own.

    Like

  113. The writer Carolyn See advocates doing this, she calls it (I think) “mental judo” – where you turn the aggression the person is throwing at you back against them by turning it into a positive for you. She has great examples in her book of thank-you notes written to editors who have turned her down, and also to critics who have written bad reviews of her work. They are brilliant.

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  114. I told my kids (in grade school at the time) that, while it was almost impossible to do, if they could completely ignore the idjits—don’t see them, don’t hear them, don’t acknowledge their existence in any way when they were being mean—it would drive those idjits insane. But that it would only work if they didn’t slip up even once, so don’t try it unless they were positive that they could withstand the escalation that would surely ensue, so try it on, practice in their heads. There came a day for each of my children when they’d had enough, felt strong, and went for it. I will never forget their elation when they came home to tell me every detail, “Mommy, it worked, it worked, it worked!” while jumping and laughing all over the kitchen.

    Some would say I did wrong, but I would disagree. Unlike my mother (who really was just an outstanding mom, mostly) who uselessly told me, “They’re just jealous,” I gave my children an excellent tool. It’s non violent. It takes enormous self control. It’s effective. And usually, the idjit meanies will lose it to the extent that they get themselves in trouble—always a bonus.

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  115. My dad gave me this advice for when my brother was pissing me off as a kid. “Stay calm and he’ll get really annoyed that you’re not responding to him”.

    And I’ve lived by this and I have spent countless times laughing and enjoying myself as people get really pissed off because I’m not giving them the response I get.

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  116. If our kids were younger I’d ship them all off to you for valuable life lessons.

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  117. Hmm. I find I have more to rant, I mean say.

    The above was for use against verbal bullies. My son started taking Karate when he was small. He really really bought all of Sensei’s strictures, including, “You never use your martial arts experience unless you have no other choice,” which is good, but. There was a kid who was physically teasing him, and it was escalating into more. I told him that he had my permission to do this—if it’s just words, ignore. But if he, or anyone, puts hands on you, put him on the ground and quietly say, “That’s enough.” Don’t hurt him. If he keeps coming at you, do it again. If you get into trouble, we will back you up. He didn’t actually end up having to do that—instead, when he heard the kid running up behind him one day, he threw a side kick that stopped a quarter inch from his nose, and held it there until the stunned boy walked away. The bullying stopped.

    Now, his older sister? She didn’t need any advice. She was really cute (still is decades later, says this proud mom), only 5’2”, and got a lot of unwanted attention from the football players and other big guys. They expressed their interest as they had since pre-school, by smacking, tripping, bumping into, etc. She would face them down. While they were grinning with delight to have gotten her attention, quick as a snake, she would reach out and grab them by the little finger and twist hard, putting them on their knees. Eventually, they learned respect. I don’t know where she got it from, but that little move was effective. I highly recommend we teach it to all our daughters.

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  118. Today I told my 6 year old that the girl in her class is mean to her because that girl is a little bitch. It might not be great parenting, but it is the truth. My daughter looked like a lightbulb went off in her head, stared into space and said “oooooooh!”

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  119. Seriously, I could not love you any more. 🙂

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  120. Gosh I needed this today. My daughter is getting married tomorrow and I will have to face my asshole ex and several members of his family. The “I forgive you” line is going to get a real workout.

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  121. I tell my kids, “you better not throw the first punch, but you sure as hell better throw the last!”

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  122. My big problem in high school was over reaction. I really wish I had this strategy back then, it actually is really smart.

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  123. So true.

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  124. Forgiveness. Such a powerful thing! Thanks, Jenny!

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  125. 131
    MCoetzee

    Thank you for the advice

    it is so much better than my “hit them in the throat and run” advice. Yes, I’m living vicariously through my kids and I would have liked to have dealt this punishment to my bullies and run to my dad for protection, but this way, as others have mentioned, is a lot more evil and hopefully will have far more rewarding experience in the long run (I was also playing with the idea of hitting them in the throat then forgiving them before forgetting them, but I guess it would be better for the kids to prevent jail time).

    Thanks also to everybody sharing their experiences and advise.

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  126. i love this.
    it sucks that people have to be jerks, but having go to advice to give to a sweet child that is dealing with jerks is a good thing.
    i am going to remember this…. for my children, and myself.

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  127. I just told my 6 year old daughter to respond with “PPLLLBBTTT, whatever, boy.” and walk away when the boys are being asshats to her. But your idea is good too. And so many good ideas in the comments.

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  128. Yes, kids can be jerks.

    But adults can be even bigger asshats.

    Which totally amazes me because you’d think by the time you get to be an adult you’d realize the world is full of enough asshats so why would you add to it and be one, too?

    I try not to be an asshat, but hell…maybe sometimes I am, too.

    But regardless…this is really awesome.

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  129. @easternpanther,

    I should clarify when the torment stopped. They tormented me from 9th grade through 12th grade. A few months before school ended, my friend talked to them and they stopped. So I had maybe 2 or 3 months of peace in high school. By the end I had serious paranoia issues (thought anyone laughing on the bus was laughing at me) and didn’t want to open up to anyone because anything I said could be used against me. I even had a “seeing red” incident where I nearly lost control of my anger one time. (Literally saw everything in a reddish haze.)

    Whenever I hear of a kid who was bullied until they lash our or commit suicide, I sympathize and realize that I could have been that kid as well had things gone slightly differently one way or another for me.

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  130. This has nothing to do with this post, but look how awesomely creepy this woman’s baking is! http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/domestic-goddess-makes-sinister-sweets

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  131. Some really good advice right here!! lol

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  132. I discovered by accident that it was great revenge on a guy who blew you off to not remember him. He approached me with some ridiculous apology for having never called me and then proceeded to hit on me and I looked at him with honest confusion and asked if we had ever met. From then on i would do that on purpose.

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  133. 139
    Princess Judy

    I love that you talk to your daughter about real live life stuff…. or even at all, actually. Color me jealous. I inadvertently learned the potato face forgetfulness technique because I was always genuinely surprised that the taunters and bullies came back for more since my reaction was usually just to look at them with puzzled looks. They do tire of it if you don’t give them a reaction.

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  134. 140
    Plano Mom

    Once again, you write a post which is EXACTLY what I needed to hear, at the EXACT moment I needed to hear it. I love you, in a not creepy, idol kind of way.

    Like

  135. When I was in FIRST GRADE my next door neighbor and best friend of 6 years decided that because my parents didn’t put me in Blue Birds that it would be okay for her and all the Blue Birds to sit on top of her swing set and yell across the fence into my backyard, then ignore me, then write mean things (as mean as 7 year olds can get) on pieces of paper and put them in our mailbox.

    My mom said, “Girls are mean.” Like that was an explanation that a 7 year old would get. I’m sorry your 9 year old is having to learn this same lesson, but also grateful that she’s not the one teaching it. It never lets up. Girls gossip and treat each other like $h*t in middle school, high school, college, and the professional world. So much for girl power, women’s lib, the sisterhood of the traveling pants and all that nonsense if we’re going to beat up on each other.

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  136. This is the best advice I have read all week. I am going to forgive a few people this week. : )

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  137. It can be difficult to pick the right technique for dealing with assholes, and some of them don’t reveal their true character until they suddenly turn.
    Sometimes ignoring them is the best, and sometimes it’s better to be polite and mess with their heads.
    The crucial thing is to remember that no matter what you do, an asshole will always be an asshole, and to not be tempted to cut them slack and try to be their friend, because if you do the friendship will last as long as you’re useful to them.
    After that they’ll be an asshole again, but now they’ll know you better and know which buttons to push and enough of your personal stuff to make you feel uneasy.
    Better to keep assholes at arms length than give them ammunition to use on you.
    I wish I didn’t, but I speak from experience.

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  138. This is totally off topic, but last week, I was in France visiting my in-laws and went to a monastery which was hosting an art exhibit. The art exhibit had a taxidermy donkey with the head of a chicken and I thought of you. They were strict about no pictures in the art exhibit, unfortunately. I am trying to track down a link, but I’m not really sure what keyword to use for donkey chicken artwork.

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  139. 146
    Chrissie

    Do you suppose assholes know they are assholes?

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  140. …please….don’t ask me if I’m an asshole..

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  141. This smacks of the motherly trick of yelling out the car window as you drop them off at school: “Love you, Sweetums. Make good choices!”🙂

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  142. 149
    Cy Cheesewright

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  143. 150
    desidramalogues.wordpress.com

    haha works everytime. =D

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  144. I wish my mother had told me this. It would have come in really, really handy in seventh grade.

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  145. sometimes being nice to assholes (who also have paranoid guilt complexes) IS THE BEST thing you can do. it will eat at their souls far worse than the hurtful words they would rather hear from you, ever could. it makes you the bigger person, and it makes them look mean and deranged. well said jenny. my mom told me something similar as a kid, and as an adult it’s still great advice. hailey’s lucky to have you as a mom.

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  146. 153
    DarthMama

    I can verify that the “keep introducing yourself” technique is maddening (and no, I was not bullying the person who did it to me.) My 1st year in law school, one of my classmates introduced herself to me every single time we met, for 8 months. She stopped when I finally said (in response to her saying “Hi, I’m . . .”), “I’m in every single one of your classes. I can tell you where you sit in each one of them, what your last comment was in our contracts class, who your roommates are and who your boyfriend is. I even know where you went for dinner last night and that you took home the leftovers. And you can’t even remember my name?” I don’t think we spoke again for the rest of the 3 years of law school. She couldn’t remember my name, but she remembered that conversation. So, yes, that technique is an exquisite form of torture.

    It’s been over 25 years and I haven’t forgotten her name or that conversation. I think she still doesn’t know my name.

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  147. Mark Twain has an awesome essay, “Advice to Children.” Sounds like it’s time.

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  148. 155
    Quilthugger

    Since I know you are familiar with the wonderful wit of Tim Minchin, perhaps the song for Phil Doust would be appropriate? OK, maybe not for a 9 year old. Unless she reads your blog, in which case she’s already contaminated by the vulgarity virus.

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  149. I read a quote recently that went something like…trying to figure out someone’s obnoxious behavior is like trying to smell the number 9.

    Keep introducing yourself…I LOVE that idea!

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  150. I also only provide forgiveness with a side of snarkiness. It’s sincere! Just, you know, also not.

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  151. What about “you’ve mistaken me for someone who cares what you think” “who asked?” or “that’s an inside-your-head thought, dude” or “what an odd way to make conversation!”

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  152. Now I kind of want to walk up to people I don’t even know, put my hand on their arm, and say, “I forgive you.”

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  153. Forgiving one another is the hardest thing we humans have to do. Forgiving preemptively in a fully realized passive/aggressive state is sure to take some of the sting out of it.

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  154. 161
    serapion2014

    Excellent ideas all around. Wish I had had these when I was 9, and 11, and 15….. I also learned way too late about “bless your heart…” but it does still come in handy.

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  155. So true. YES. I have one of those in my life right now and it would make that person just crazy. And pissy. I know forgiveness is supposed to be above that, but it’s reason enough for me. You’re a dick and I forgive you, now let the games begin!

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  156. “Stab them with your Kindness Knife” is also way catchier than “Kill them with kindness”

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  157. @Kristina B “Stab them with your kindness knife”, eh? This is the stuff crochet pillows are made of!

    I would completely agree! With kids these days, psychological warfare is ten times more effective than spanking.

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  158. Also, I want to thank your clever witticisms and well-timed rants for being the inspiration behind my new start-up blog! It’s at http://www.pinksparklynotebook.com. It would mean so much to me if you could give me some pointers on how to be successful in online blogging, given your clear successes in “the business”!

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  159. Interestingly, while I was away at a music and crafts festival just after this post, I failed to recognize and then sat down next to (almost on top of, really) a woman who had wronged me deeply several years ago. We were all waiting for the showers and it wasn’t until she came back from her turn, dripping wet and scowling at me, that I recognized her ugly arm tattoo and realized who it was.
    I accidentally followed your advice perfectly and I wanted to thank you. She looked pretty mad.❤

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  160. Jenny, I’ve watched my 12-year-old daughter struggle with jerks for years now, and your response is PERFECT. I made her come over and read it, over her father’s frown about hte inappropriate language. I recommended against the Potato-face part, but, well, left it up to her.🙂

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  161. This couldn’t come at a more perfect time. Love it. I linked up to this post in my latest blog.

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  162. It is so true but can be hard to follow at times.A Lil bit of kindness can change the world🙂

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  163. If I had a daughter, I would steal this advice because it is brilliant.

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  164. The best things they say happens unexpectedly and not all that glitters is gold. Am Maia Brigdeston from Canada i have been sick with breast cancer for the past 8 years and it has really affected my marriage due to the fact that my husband could no longer bear the shamed, he decided to break up with me. I searched everywhere for help but all was to no avail until i saw a post on the internet about a spell caster who has helped several peoples globally. I decided to have a try to get in touch with him and the spell caster called Doctor Okpamen told me that the sickness and problems i see today that i will see them no more. He prepared a spell for me and in less that 24 hours, i went for a test in the hospital and my doctor told me that am free from the sickness that cancer no longer runs in my vain. Before i could finish rejoicing about me been free from the sickness, my husband called me that he needs me back that he was very sorry for all what he has made me passed through and wants us to reconcile. My marriage was reunited and we are living happily again. If there is anyone out there that needs the help should not hesitate to contact the spell caster called Doctor Okpamen either via his Email: Doctorokpamenspelltemple@hotmail.com

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  165. I shared this on my Facebook wall when it came out and it popped up in my memories. I am so freaking glad it did because I REALLY needed to see it again. I will forgive them. They are not sorry, but they can not live rent free in my head. Plus, supper funny if handled correctly. Love you Jenny and thank you for the inspiration.

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