Recently my 15-year-old son and I encountered a young couple on a street corner that appeared to be out for an early evening (still daylight) run. She was sitting awkwardly on the sidewalk holding her ankle/lower leg, obviously in pain. He was standing over her trying to help. As we approached the couple, I rolled down my window to ask if they needed help in the form of a cell phone or ride etc. That was the right thing to do.
At the same time, before the young man could respond, my son started yelling at me: “What are you doing? Why should we stop? You’re so weird, talking to complete strangers!” I am embarrassed to say my son’s outburst provoked an angry, hurt, and disappointed reaction in me. Instead of stopping to see if we could help the couple, we drove off towards home. My apologies, I wish I had stuck to my gut instinct. The right thing to do was obvious to me.
When I had cooled down I told my son that his reaction was not only hurtful and mean to me, but showed a complete lack of compassion towards others. What if one of his family members or friends was hurt in a public setting and no one stopped to help? One would hope a bystander knew the right thing to do and offered to help.
This may sound harsh or naive on my part, but I have seen similar behaviour in some of the comments I see coming from him on Facebook and Twitter, even in his regular conversations with friends and family members. I can’t help but feel his words are a form of bullying, potentially harmful to sensitive teens at the receiving end. I thought we had taught him better than that, was a rude awakening to me.
My son did apologize to me and agreed that stopping to help would have been the “right thing to do.” He also agreed that he would make an effort to stop the offensive comments on social media.
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