The confidence to walk away


Yesterday we had the first of what I trust will be many incidences where a crushed and devastated child came home after experiencing the hurtful behavior of a so called friend.

I will not go into the details of the incident here, except to say that it bordered on bullying and it broke Sloan’s heart.  It wasn’t physical, but he was emotionally crushed and, as his mom, I hurt for him in a way I’ve not yet experienced.  I get teary just thinking about it.

My sweet Sloan.  I’ve chronicled some of the wonderful, funny, immensely blessed characteristics that make up this remarkable boy.  He is kind and tender hearted.  Remember his love for our older mailman, Mr. Herman?  A couple of weeks ago he came in after retrieving the mail and told us that Mr. Herman’s wife was sick.  “We should pray for her,” he said.  And so we did.  And the next day Sloan made sure to tell Herman we prayed for his wife.  That’s the kind of boy he is.

Sloan is precocious, to be sure.  He’s very confident in a lot of ways, but also becoming more aware of what others think and some of his innocence is slipping away.  He’s becoming a little more self-concious, which makes me a little sad. 

One of Sloan’s best qualities, however, is his loyalty and his ability to make and love on friends.  This is a quality that cannot be taught.  It is inborn and innate to who he is and I love that about him.  He loves his friends with every fiber of his being.  Even if they hurt him.

That’s not to say he isn’t willing to fight back.  Sloan’s mouth can be his downfall at times.  We’re working on helping him learn to control his words because that’s how he fights.  It’s not constructive and it gets him in trouble.  But at least he’s not hitting anyone, right?

As we walked home from his friend’s house yesterday after “the incident,” I talked to Sloan about how important it is to choose friends who build you up; friends who make you feel good about yourself; friends that make you smile, not cry.  And even though he had just been ganged up on, his immediate respone was to look me straight in the eye and say, “But mom, I love them.  They’re my best friends.”

Sweet, sweet boy.

There were no tears, but I could tell his spirit was crushed.  We returned home and I began dinner and then I heard a few sniffles.  I looked over and he had his head buried in his arms.  I scooped him up and the dam broke.

“Why did they do that to me?” he sobbed.

Oh, it broke my heart.  I let him cry for a few minutes then set him down and reminded him that he was a child of God and he was incredibly special, kind and good.  I then thanked him for being such a good friend, even when he was hurting.  I refrained from saying anything nasty about the kids who hurt him, but I will confess that some very un-Christian monikers crossed my mind.

Points to me for holding back…

And after dinner we walked to a local ice cream place and got ice cream cones.  It did his heart good to get out and run off some steam.  And ice cream does wonders for healing the soul, does it not?

I remember how I felt as a kid when a friend hurt me.  I remember the devastation I felt and the confusion.  But I must say, the devastation I felt as a kid doesn’t even compare to the hurt I felt for my own child yesterday.  It cut to my core and it still aches.  I know this is only the beginning as I’ve got a little girl coming up behind him and if you think boys can be cruel – oh my!

Lee and I work hard to instill in our children the confidence that they will always be loved and accepted in our home.  And when the days of disappointment come, I want them to know that they can run home and cry and find comfort and healing.

I also want to teach Sloan that it’s okay to just walk away.  That’s hard for him.  He depends on friendships, thrives on them.  So teaching him to protect his heart without crushing that natural and precious loyal spirit will be our challenge.

And now I’m going to go wipe my eyes and blow my nose.  If only I had some ice cream to calm my nerves!


  1. i totally teared up reading this! so hard when your kid gets hurt…even harder when you can’t “fix” it for them! 🙁

  2. Melissa says

    Oh Kelli, I feel for you on this. What a touch situation that have to deal with. You’re a good momma!! Life is tough.

  3. AH! So precious! I just love this boy! These tender things are happening to Cooper too and he says the same things that Sloan has said. There are some neighbor kids who are really unkind to Cooper, but he calls them “his bestest buddies”. I love how forgiving he is and yet it breaks my heart to see kids hurt him. These growing pains are such precious moments for us as mommies. Way to love him and weep with him Kel!

  4. To quote or more accurately paraphrase a very wise teacher, aren’t you glad that he has you to guide him through these difficult times? Aren’t you glad that at the end of the day he is confident in your love and that will never change. Life’s lessons are often heartbreaking, I am not looking forward to this at all.

  5. I had to put the fear of God Himself in the kids today when they continued the mean spirited behavior – completely unprovoked, I might add. Let’s just say I don’t think they’ll do it again. I made it pretty clear that behavior wouldn’t be allowed and I think they got the message. We’ll see what happens from here. 😉

  6. One of my child can be so kind and thoughtful and is most of the time clueless about what others are thinking of him. One day as he was telling me about what someone said to him. It broke my heart but I am sure it will get worse as he gets older. What a great way to show them there is one friend that will never leave them or forsake them. People will always disappoint us.

  7. candy martin says

    I am so proud of the way you have handled all this with Sloan. There is nothing harder for a mom than to watch their childs heart break over cruelness from a “friend”. You were right to confront the children today. There is way to much bullying going on and it has to be stopped. Kids are starting it at a very young age and if no one steps in and tells them that it is unacceptable it will continue. KNowing Sloan’s personality, he will still love them and want to continue to be best friends with them. Continue to be his advocate. You are wise to know when it is time to step in. Sometimes those mommy fangs just have to come out!!!

  8. Sloan told us about getting icecream yesterday..he asked if we could go again 🙂 Yeah, he mentioned several times that he wanted to go play with his “friend”. He is such a forgiving young man! Glad he and Brooke had some sweet play time yesterday. We went to luch with my parents and they sat at their own table just chatting away and laughing. I told them it looked like they were on a date, I got a big “EEWW” from both of them!

  9. Haha! Carol, that’s funny. He didn’t mention his “date.” 🙂

  10. That kid is no good, we had a run in with him down our way last night, will have to fill you in. It was actually between him and my husband, wahoo, watch out!

  11. I love Sloan! He and Coop will have each other! 🙂 Like Tiff said, Coop and Sloan are ALOT alike. As a parent, when I see another child hurt my boys’ feelings…I want to write them off. But I know that is not the right thing to do as kids can be sooo fickle. Kudos to you for parenting this really difficult thing so well. I am glad I have tiff to balance the “ok…daddy will have a “chat” with his daddy” side of me. I dont look forward to this loss of innocence. Not at all. ugh…dumb sin.

  12. I feel sorry for you as a mom as it’s much harder to experience your own child’s devastation. But I feel so proud for your ability to rule the situation and stay calm when your heart aches and you are ready to burst into tears yourself. I feel sorry for Sloan as he is hurt by a friend. But I feel proud of him for the ability to love his “enemies” whatever happens. He has a special ability to walk away and stay kind and loyal. It’s the superb feature. It’s very easy to fight and bully in respond, to call names and be rude. But it’s very difficult to continue loving those who hurt us. He is a special child…