Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Words are painful

My oldest daughter is soon to be 14.  She spends almost every minute living with my wife and I but a couple times a month, her bio dad comes and picks her up and spends 30 hours with her.  Unfortunately these days usually are on Sundays and so she only comes to Church every other week.  She is a sweet girl that is trying to find her place in this world.  I love her to death.  She has had some interesting and unique trials in her life.  She is little framed and skinny as a rail.  Early in school until a few years ago she attended speech therapy because she didn't pronounce her "R's and S's" properly.  People made fun of her.  She attended therapy for a while and has corrected the "problem".  She enjoyed it probably more because she got out of class a couple times a week.

Recently the Beehive's President (youth leader for girls age 12 to 13) told another girl at Church that my daughter had told her she had gone to a party, gotten drunk, passed out, had sex and was pregnant.  The Beehive's President also said that my daughter told her that it was OK to tell everyone this "story".  This rumor spread through our congregation and the Bishop pulled me aside and asked me about it.  He wasn't judging my wife and I but was offering help if we needed it.  I laughed out loud when he told me the rumor.  My daughter has regular teenager issues but nothing along those lines.  I know my daughter has made some royal mistakes though.  A few of them are trusting everyone she comes in contact with because they are her "friends", allowing others to influence her individual decisions and accountability, not heeding council from parents, etc.  I am not one of those parents that sticks their heads in the sands and thinks their kids can do no wrong.  I see all of their weaknesses and all of their strengths.  I try to see them as a mix of the two instead of just the weak side they have.  I discussed it with my wife that night and we discussed whether or not discuss this rumor with our daughter.  We decided we would after we calmed down.  We knew exactly where this rumor came from because this wasn't the first rumor started by my daughter's two-sided friend.

Soon we received a phone call from a friend in the ward sharing with us the same rumor.  She told us that one of her friends discussed this rumor with her and went to the Bishop because she didn't know how to discuss the rumors with us without being uncomfortable.  I shared with this friend that we are always open to discuss the issues our children have.  We realize our kids are on their best behavior when we are around and not so much when we are not.

We discussed the rumor with our daughter and he was visibly hurt.  She knew exactly where the rumor came from without use even sharing the source of the hurtful rumor.  Obviously it was not true.  The party that this happened at never happened.  She never went to a party.  We told her to stay away from this rumor spreading young lady as much as possible.  We told her to limit contact and no matter how this "friend" acts to her face, don't trust her, don't confide in her, etc.  We contemplated going to the Beehive President's parents because we have a decent relationship with them but decided against it because they have justified her actions before and made excuse after excuse for other rumors.  My daughter begged us not to go to them.  So we decided against it.  I am still wondering about this decision.

I have a hard time with rumors.  I also have personal experience due to my divorce.  In the end, words can hurt.  They can be used for good or evil.  I work very hard in my Scouting group to not only squash rumors but also the needling boys tend to do to each other.  Instead of building each other up, they purposely try to break each other down.  It is one thing to joke but it is a whole other when the joke is mean to backhandedly hurt even if the person doesn't understand its purpose.

How do you deal with rumors and unkind words in your Scouting units?

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