She said, "You're only sixteen, you don't have a rep yet"
"If they were laughing you don't need them,
"Cause they're not good friends"
The Fresh Prince definitely had his own take on the power of reputation... I didn't realize my 11 year old would have to deal with it too.
Her 6th grade Health class participates in a program called All-stars, where they talk about several different choices that teenagers are now forced to make, and the steps leading to these choices, and what can be done to help make the best choice. One of the aspects I particularly love about this program is the parental involvement. Every so often, Hailey will bring home a worksheet with answers to scripted questions on one side, and a few questions she is to discuss with me on the other side. The questions that she discusses with me are based upon the answers given on the previous page.
This time, the paper was about reputation.
By definition, a reputation is the estimation in which a person or thing is held, esp. by the community or the public generally. According to my daughter, this means that a reputation is what other people think of you.
So I ask, can you affect what other people think of you.
She says, yes, by the choices you make.
Okay, so what kinds of choices should you make. Right ones...
So far, so good.
Okay, so now I am going to tell you a story. There was this guy. He had some people that HATED him. It was really bad. They thought that he broke rules. He made other people question their belief. They thought he wasn't obedient to his leaders.
Then there was this other group of people who thought he wasn't very important, but because of the choices he made, other people got mad, and there was arguing and fighting and violence, and this second group didn't like that, so they did bad things to him.
Then there was this third group of people who thought that he was super important. They would sit and listen to him for hours. They saw the good that he did and would tell their friends.
Hailey, who is this man? Mom.... that's Jesus.
That's right. Did Jesus care what people thought of Him? Nope.
Who's opinion did Jesus care about? Heavenly Father's.
That's right. Did Jesus make bad decisions? No.
That's right. Not once. Did everyone think he was a good person? No.
So, is your reputation the most important thing to worry about? No.
So what should you think about? I should try to make the right decisions, and not worry about what other people think of me.
That's right. What can you do to help you remember to make the right decisions? I can remember that I am a child of God and that He loves me. If I remember that, then I don't need to worry about whether or not people like me or not.
That's right. You can't control what other people think, but as long as you are doing what's right, that's all that matters. You know your Heavenly Father loves you, and you know I love you, and you know that is not going to change. The friends that you have, that are good friends, are not going to give you a bad reputation if you are making good choices. You won't always be perfect, but at least you are doing the best you can, and fixing things when you need to. That's all that we ask.
Now the clincher...
Mom... I can't write that on my paper. This is for school. I will get into trouble.
Friends, I'm not gonna lie. That simple statement broke my heart. To think that the most important thing I can teach my daughter about who she is and how she is special, and the best defense I can give her against the forces of darkness in this world, will get her into trouble at school is such a sad little commentary on the world today. I told her to write it anyway. (I'm a rebel...) Then I took her paper and wrote a note to her teacher, right under my signature.
"Dear Mr. N,
Our family stands very firm in our religious faith. We use the lessons we learn from our faith to teach our children correct principles. The answers Hailey has written reflect the discussion we had, and the principles taught within our faith, and within our family. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me."
The best thing that we can do for our families, and for the world today, is to continue being the best men and women we can be. I believe that by following the principles of the gospel, and remembering our own divinity, we can change the world... even if it is one growing-up girl at a time.
PS... When I checked my reader this morning, there was my daily nugget of religious wisdom, that totally applied to this post...
“Let us . . . honor the special place of the family. As James Q. Wilson wrote:“ ‘We learn to cope with the people of this world because we learn to cope with the members of our family. Those who flee the family flee the world; bereft of the [family’s] affection, tutelage, and challenges, they are unprepared for the [world’s] tests, judgments, and demands’ (The Moral Sense , 163).”
Neal A. Maxwel, “The Tugs and Pulls of the World,” Liahona, Jan. 2001, 44