ehowton (ehowton) wrote,

Kids These Days

My son and his friends were attempting to plan the next day's event when one of the friends announced his cousin would be coming over for a visit and was unsure he'd be able to participate. My son gregariously suggested he simply bring the cousin, the reply to which was, "My cousin has these sensitivities which offend him and I don't think it would be a good idea." Discussion ensued as to the depths of these sensitivities, followed by what could be done to mitigate them.

I posed a question difficult for most adults to comprehend, let alone a group of teenagers - Has he tried not being offended? Being offended does not entitle him to special privilege; should everyone in the group change their behavior to account for his sensitivity, or should he manage his own behavior by not allowing himself to become offended? Who should be held more accountable for the offense?

I have this crazy thought that if I can plant these ideas in my children at an early age, they'll have a much easier time as adults. We as a species are far too diverse to not innocuously offend someone, at sometime - I know I've lost too many friends over having offended them. How? When you start communicating less - in hopes to not offend again - that friendship has a tendency to die on the vine as communication is the root of most relationships. You can win the battle but lose the war time and time again when you start protecting someone's fragile ego. So much better (and easier, and more sustainable, and less problematic) to simply not take offense. In fact my most fulfilling relationships are those to whom I can communicate unequivocally with - they are slow to offense and eager to actively ensure my motivation correctly prior to their responses, as I would do unto them. The rest, by nature, simply become less relevant over time.

Unfortunately, I was later notified by the mother of one of the friends that my son had offended her son, and could I ask mine to minimize his offending behavior, because hers has certain sensitivities. As I attempted to relate the above conversation I'd already had with both the boys (awkwardly via text messaging), I decided the defining difference was intent. If my son had intended to offend the boy, that's on him, and I would do my best. If he didn't mean to offend the boy, however...Who should be held more accountable for the offense?

Tags: accountibility, offended, offense

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