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I Am Not a Jerk Whisperer

I will give more chances based on your relationship to me, just because. Yes, my children will have more chances, because they are my children. Everything we do is a teaching moment. Adults on the other hand, will not be given the same considerations, so don't even ask.
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Summer is here! I'm thrilled to be approaching the summer vacation that will allow me to spend a lot of time creating memories with my family. But let's face it, I live with three teenagers, who are not always the kindest people in the world, and whose brains sometimes amass into a flurry of hormone-controlled impulses that can make for stressful times.

I spent most of my Memorial Day weekend on Pinterest gathering ideas for summer projects and challenges for our family to participate in, and I realized that none of our projects are going to be accomplished if we don't have some basic ground rules. Actually, there's one basic rule for summer survival in our family -- all the others fall upon this one.

I am not a jerk whisperer.

Nor will I try to be. I can't even remember where I first heard that sentence, but it is now my parenting and life mantra. While this is the absolute key to living with three teenagers, especially when we're all creating wonderfully, happy memories together, I'm also employing this rule when dealing with adults as well.

For the record, let's establish a working definition of the word jerk. I realize that we all have probably encountered jerks in our lives, so I asked my community of friends on Facebook to define in the most non-profane manner possible, the word jerk. Here are some of the responses:

  • Ex-boyfriend

  • Thoughtless, inconsiderate, selfish, rude, self-serving
  • Inconsiderate, rude, narcissistic, idiot
  • A delicious spice mixture and/or an inconsiderate self-absorbed schmuck
  • A conscious idiot spewing negative rhetoric and/or persona across the masses
  • Narcissistic person; Unhappy clown
  • Thoughtless
  • A dance move
  • Wait. What?

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    I know for a fact that I am not the only one who may deal with jerks, but I did want to share my summer plan for my choice not to live with jerk behavior. You see, my personality would ordinarily encourage me to deal with the jerk -- ergo jerk whispering -- but in the words of pop singer Meghan Trainor, "No."

    Here are my guidelines for dealing with jerks. Feel free to share and use whatever works for you, because no one should have to deal with jerks. Ever.

    1. It's in my best interest and yours for me to process jerkish behavior before I reply through my own words or actions. I will probably leave the room or get off the phone or need to get away from you so I can process what happened alone. Not allowing me to do that, or encouraging me to respond instantly will not end in a good way.

    2. If you send me a text message that sounds jerkish, I will not acknowledge it nor will I reply at all.

    3. I will forgive you without you asking for forgiveness. Please remember though, that forgive does not equal forget. I will forgive but I probably won't forget.

    4. I will seek first to understand the why behind your jerkishness, but that's just for my understanding. Even if I understand the reason, the behavior will still not be tolerated.

    5. If this behavior is a pattern for our interactions, you will be sent to the universe. This means there will no longer be a need for you to play a role in my life until the work of God, the Universe, or a higher power of another name handles it. There is a lot of work that needs to be done for you to come back from the universe. A lot. Do it and come back or stay there, it's totally up to you.

    6. I will secretly feel sorry for you that this is the existence in life you have chosen. That's sad.

    7. I believe that jerkishness is an illness (that can be contagious) and if I diagnose you with said illness, you will need to undergo the appropriate treatment for it; more than likely in the universe and with a good dose of boundaries.

    8. I want to live in the solution, not the problem. After all, I know what the problem is...you're acting like a jerk. In order for us to heal and move past it, I will live in the solution instead of the problem. That means we work together to resolve the issue so it doesn't happen again.

    9. Step 1: Jerk. Step 2: Bully. Step 3: Abuser. I will watch you closely to see if you follow this pattern. If you do, all contact will cease and I don't care who you are or what your relation to me is. (Fyi, If the person in question is a teenager that I gave birth to, we don't make it past Step 2.)

    10. I will give more chances based on your relationship to me, just because. Yes, my children will have more chances, because they are my children. Everything we do is a teaching moment. Adults on the other hand, will not be given the same considerations, so don't even ask.

    So tell me, how do you deal with people you encounter who act like jerks?

    This post first appeared on My Life With Him and Them. Click here to visit the blog and read more tales of Toni's journey as a single mom with three adolescents.