How our kids will deal with peer pressure, social ostracism, and wanting to “fit in” is determined largely by how they see us dealing with these issues as parents. We recount how we were given a choice between our peer group and our kids, how we made the decision, and the consequences of our choice.
Summary and Notes
[00:01:11] – The going away party
[00:06:51] – Being ostracized used from a group
[00:10:54] – The group fractures from within
[00:15:27] – The lesson to take away
[00:17:10] – Understanding where we stand in our family
Quotes from the Episode:
“We prefer to take care of conflict on a personal level.” [00:05:29]
“If we roll over on this then what we are basically sending a signal that we don’t care about our children as much as we care about fitting in with your group.” [00:08:05]
“It made us realize there was more power that we had than we acknowledged.” [00:13:56]
“Understand the groups that you belong in, understand the feelings of belongingness and how that feels really good, then ask yourself what would it take to make this feeling go away.” [00:15:30]
“I think that groups and community are vital to interdependence….the important thing to know is what that group is all about and what happens to that group when it’s tested.” [00:16:19]
“It’s easy to spout platitudes and talk about family first but then to actually identify what that means and to live those values I think is extremely important and an extremely valuable lesson.” [00:17:38]
So today I want to talk about the power of social ostracism. And I had recorded this episode and I listened back to it and I decided that I wanted to redo it. And the reason that I wanted to redo it was because I was couching some of my commentary. And. I think that one of the most important things that I can do with my kids is provide an example for them, and if I'm couching commentary on something that happened in our lives related to ostracism, and I'm not being forthright about that, then I don't think that I'm providing the best possible example. That I can for them. So I decided that what I was going to do was go ahead and rerecord this because I think that in addition to the details of the story, I think that how I present myself in describing those details is also really important. So my son was about to. At the time of a going away party that was held at a local gym that we used to belong to. And this was a CrossFit style jam. And so maybe there were about, I don't know, 80 people, at this party. It was a family friendly party, big, event. A lot of people, brought potluck style stuff, and they also had some stuff that they were providing there. So. One of the displays was a dessert display. And this was done up by somebody who had a, I think it was like a dessert business or a cake business, cause they had the big, like plywood covered display where all of the desserts were set up on. And this is not something that you have, as, you know, when I go to a potluck, I don't bring along a. Giant four foot tall cake display structure with me. I bring the food and that's pretty much it. The reason that this is important is because on this display was a selection of kettlebells shaped desserts. So a kettlebell is a metal, just think of like a metal cannon ball with a metal handle that is shaped. onto it so that you can swing it and do various things with it. And these were on this, this dessert display. they were about the size of a golf ball, maybe a little bit smaller, and they had a handle that was made out of fondant or so I thought, they're very, beautifully colored and. What does my son do? He runs up to this display and he jams one of these things in his mouth. And as he's putting one of these things into his mouth, I read the sign that says, do not eat the handles. And so I pick up my son and realize that he has eaten the whole thing. And then I pick up one of these treats. These desserts, and I realized that the reason that the sign says don't pick up the handle is because it's made out of wire covered in fondant. So we decide that we're going to take our kid to the doctor because the wire is fairly stiff and we don't know what the consequences of that, but we're fairly certain that this is something that merits a professional opinion. And so we go to the doctor, we're not upset because we know that, that it will be taken care of. We know we, you know, we have insurance and that we know that, that accidents happen. Okay? So we go there, we have this great x-ray of our son with this, with this kettlebell shaped handle in his stomach. And the doctor says, yeah, he'll probably pass it. But, he was still in diapers at the time. If it doesn't, pass it, then you have to come back for an X Ray. So. You know, it's inconvenient. No big deal. Our bigger thing was, Hey, I'm kind of unsafe. So we posted a short message on a private. Group that, that, that we're a member of with this group. Just saying, Hey, you know what, we're fine. son is going to be okay, most likely. And, you know, we just want to talk with whoever provided these things because we just want to make sure that they understand, Hey, while the dessert was beautiful, probably not appropriate for an environment that is family friendly, where there's a bunch of little kids running around who. Can't read and who are attracted to bright candy looking items at eyeball level. So realistically, yes, I should have been on top of my son more than I was, but at the same time, if you have to have a sign that people need to read, telling them not to eat a sugar covered part of the dessert, then you're kind of. Saying, Hey, I know that there's a danger here. I know so much that I'm actually posting a warning about it, which maybe maybe as soon as you get to that point in your decision making, it's time to find another substructure to make your handle with that. I would just say, especially if you're looking to do that professionally, so one thing that. It's interesting about my wife and myself is that we prefer to take care of conflict at the personal level. We prefer to address things personally, and we actually would prefer not to involve the state or some sort of agency in enforcing things, especially if we can take care of it ourself. And so that's what we tried to do. We said, Hey, you know what? We're not asking for any money insurance covered this, but we just want to talk to the person who made this so that we can, we have an understanding that they understand how unpleasant this was and that they're not going to go and do this again. Now, what happened, interestingly enough, was instead of the community that we were supposedly a part of, reaching back to us and asking how our son was. The F one of the first messages that we received was, how dare you ruin this person's going away party. Right? So what was interesting was they were basically telling us to back the F down and that if we continue to investigating this, we would be ejected from this group. Now, my wife had made a lot of friends. There and I had to, and ostracism is kind of an interesting thing because when you're ostracized, especially going back, like let's say you go back a thousand years and Hunter gatherer or tribal environments being ostracized from a group a, if you are literally kicked out of a group as a couple, and you've relied on this group for, for mutual protection and defense, and now you're cast out into the wild is a couple of that could be a literal death sentence. So. And it was, it would also impact a woman with a small child much more than it would a man, simply because physical differences aside, having to care for a small child puts you at a distinct disadvantage in a survival situation than being alone. So it impacted my wife more than it impacted me. And. We talked, you said, you know, do you think we should reconcile, but this should be, just forget about it. And I said, what I should note is that the attacks became more, frequent, and they were, I would say, more venomous, basically telling us that we should not investigate this any further. We just need to be quiet about it. And that was that. And what I told my wife was I, I said, listen, if we roll over on this. Then what we are basically , sending a signal to everyone about our children is that we don't care about our children as much as we do fitting in with your group. And I said, I'm not willing to do that. Furthermore, this group is telling us everything we need to know about it because they're basically saying to us that we don't matter at all. All that matters is our compliance and that they will do anything needed to protect. Their group, even if they are basically in conflict with the, with their own tenants, with the things that they say that they hold dear, they're actually violating by telling us where to go and how to get there basically. So that's what my wife and I did. We said, we reached out and we said, once again, you know, Hey, We're extending the olive branch here. We're not going to go after anybody. We, we, we're not looking for any money. All we want to do is just talk with whoever this was. Whoever made these and just get an understanding that they know that what they did was dangerous and they probably shouldn't do that again. Like we'll just have a, just, just the handshake of, Hey, you know, I is your kid. Okay. But instead, instead of taking that olive branch, what they did was escalate. And now I'm in a challenging situation because now, not only is it my family, but now I know that whoever this Baker is is basically saying that they're willing to do that again. . I'm left with the conundrum of saying, okay, well do I ignore this knowing that they'll do it again, or do I involve the health department? Do I involve the County? And these are two things that I really don't want to do, but at the same time, I will not sit idly by knowing that this person is going to repeat that same behavior again, because now guess what? That's me and that's, that's my, my feelings of right or wrong. I guess my, my morality. That I'm putting out there by saying, Hey, I know that this person's going to do this again. I can't be silent about it. I've, I've attempted to engage with them. They're not going to engage. Okay. So, then I have to involve who I have to involve. And what was really interesting is when the health department called, the business where the, where the party was, was held basically, What started to happen was that group started to fracture from the inside because there was some accusations going back and forth, and I found that really interesting is that they were willing to throw anybody under the bus in order to protect the group and how easy it would have been for them just to come to the table and say, Hey, handshake. . No bad blood, no bad feelings, and everybody goes and continues doing what they're doing. one thing that I thought that the owner of this gym could have done to ameliorate things is to take care of things, was number one, to be more of a leader in a positive way. Because at any point in time, she could have come in and told the people who were. Harassing us to stop doing that. Stop doing this in my name. That's not what I'm about. That's not what this group is about. Additionally, she could have talked to us and asked how we were. She could have acted as an intermediary between us and whoever that Baker was saying, Hey, this person that, you know, you guys should just talk to each other and sort it out. Because these guys are just wanting to to hold out an olive branch. All they want is for you to take it. She could have facilitated that, but instead her tactic was the tactic that you're advised to do whenever you get into an automotive accident, which is, and I understand there was a difference between if you get in a car accident where you don't know anybody and you ha you're going to have to go through the legal system, is you never. You never talk about blame, especially when talking to the police and, and in a, in a car accident, you never take responsibility for, for the crash, basically. And I understand that there's, that, there's good reason to do that. There's also good reason never to talk to the police. but that's neither here nor there. This is an organization, this, this group was a much smaller group where in theory, everybody knew everybody. And. Things could be handled in a much simpler way, but they chose not to do that. They chose to not acknowledge what had happened in the belief that by not acknowledging it, it would go away. Kind of like my two year old will spill something on the floor and put her hand over her eyes. Thinking that because she can't see it, I can't see it and we're not going to get upset with her for doing that. We're going to talk about, Hey, maybe could, what could you do next time to make that not spill, but we're not going to get upset with her over it, but at the same time, we're not going to pretend like we don't see it just because she puts her eyes, her hands over her eyes and can't see it. What did this do for. My family. Well, at first, like I said, it made my wife really nervous and uncomfortable, but ultimately it brought us closer together and it made us realize that there was more power that we had than we acknowledged. Now ultimately, see, here's the thing. Ultimately nothing, nothing happened. Nothing that happened. We didn't pursue it to the point of financially damaging anyone. We didn't. We didn't. You know, have the, the, the County pursue them to the point where somebody would get a big fine or something like that. but we needed to, we needed to demonstrate that, Hey, if you, if you treat us this way, you're going to face consequences. And the consequences for them were they got to see the backstabbing of, from their own group. And that was, I think, very, very unpleasant. For them to have to bear witness to and have to see how they were basically destroying each other from within. And from my perspective, like I said, you know, I'm not, I'm not big into involving, involving others to do my reconciliation for me. I'd rather not involve. external entities to do something that I could do myself. However, if I have reason to believe that somebody is going to do the same thing that caused us injury again, and they're not willing to talk to me about it, they're not willing to put their hand out and reach for that olive branch that I'm handing them, then. I don't have a choice in the matter. I have to escalate it at that point. So the lesson for my kids here is number one, understand the groups that you're getting involved in. Understand the feelings of belongingness and how that feels really good. And then ask yourself, what would it take to make this feeling go away? Is what I am feeling real or is what I am feeling just what somebody wants me to feel. And then. What would it take to challenge that? How far could I step out of bounds before what I'm feeling right now is flipped on its head and before I am vilified for. Basically threatening the group even, and also what would be a perceived slight to the group. That's another thing to really take into account. Another thing for my kids that I'd want them to take away from this is not that community in groups are bad. I think that that groups and community are vital to interdependence, not, not independence and not like a communism type stuff, but interdependence. The important thing to know is what that group is all about and what happens to that group when it's tested. I think that those are really two really important things to, to understand what the group advertises itself as, or what it's its ethos, either formally or informally is, and then what that ethos turns into when, the group is challenged. And finally. Another thing that I think is really important to me personally anyway, is the perspective of understanding where we stand as a family. And prior to this, my wife and I had just kind of coasted in our marriage. And what I mean by that is we hadn't thought of sort of if thence for, well, if this happens, this is what we're going to do, or not. Not like for my Newt. Detail of things, but just in, more broad generalizations of this is what it means to put family first because it's easy to spout platitudes and to talk about family first, but then to actually identify what that means and live those values, I think is extremely important and extremely valuable lesson. And this was really the first time that we had to kind of put our money where our mouth was. In terms of, in terms of doing that in a, in, in a way that had long standing consequences. And if you can get away without having to do that for a while or for her entire marriage, then great. But I think that at some point in time, whether it's with extended family who are going to push your boundaries or whether it's with a group like this, knowing what that line is and knowing what you will do to defend it. Is really, really important. And also understanding what signals that sends to other people about your family and what it also sends to your spouse and to your kids is very valuable. And that's something that my wife and I don't we, I mean, we disagree on a lot of different things and we disagree in a healthy way. and this was something maybe that we disagreed about before this. Happened, but both her and I agree that had we not shown, not just not just told, but shown what we were willing to stand for, then we would be doing our kids a great disservice. And we would also be doing our marriage a great disservice by not drawing a line in the sand and then walking away from. It group that would cross over that line in the sand. And so that's really all I have for this show is kind of challenging for me. As I said, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know and we'll see you in the next show.