How Do I Protect My Kids from the Piggy Next Door?
A reader asks the Neighbor Lady about how to shield her kids from the trashy tendencies of someone living nearby.
Hi Neighborhood Lady,
My neighbor has a 2'x3' Hooter Meter (a breast size chart) on his shed door that my kids can see. He's a bit of a redneck and I've had run-ins with him before. What do I do?
Dear Hoppin’ Mad,
Ooooo, I bet this gets right under your skin! I can see this lodging nice and snug right on your last nerve. Just reading your question gave me a twitch in my eye and set my foot tapping.
You mean you haven’t already snuck out at midnight to tear the thing down and rip it to ribbons? And you haven’t put up your own, I don’t know, ‘Ignoram-o-meter’ on your garage? And you haven’t called every woman you know to come and execute some I-don’t-know-what scrumptious bit of satisfaction?
I gotta say, good for you. You’re taking the high road!
Well, a long time ago I got a piece of advice about highway driving; maybe you could benefit from it today. See, back in the day, when I first had my driver’s license, I confessed to my friend that I was confident enough to just knock about driving around town, but I was nervous to join the speeding cars on the highway.
She said I could get myself into trouble if I started to worry about every little interaction with neighboring cars—going fast on the highway is not the time nor place to micromanage your movements. Her advice was to focus on the far-off horizon, and let my brain take care of the details.
She said my unconscious mind was much better suited to managing all of the minuscule adjustments.
Your biggest concern here is the education of your kids, correct? Undoubtedly, you would like to shield them from the message they are getting from your neighbor (and all other offensive material). Well, that is going to keep you hootin’ aggravated... and hoppin' busy.
Instead, what if you taught your kids to recognize this kind of thing for the unacceptable garbage that it is? Direct their focus onto the message that you want them to receive, and let their own unconscious minds filter out the rubbish. You could look at the sign together and open an age-appropriate discussion about why you don’t like it, and why you are angry about what it communicates.
Ask them to understand that your neighbor does not have the same values as your family does and that you reject outright the sentiments behind that sign. You don’t have to clean up all the offensive messages out there to make the world safe for your kids. You can teach them to throttle forward focused on their dignified futures while not giving a hoot about the trash by the side of the road.