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Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

No constitutional right to be a jerk.

September 10, 2009

President Obama greets high school students (AP photo)

President Obama greets high school students (AP photo)

In last night’s speech before a joint session of Congress the President was clear about his goals for health care reform. He also delivered a clear message to Americans about the most effective way to deal with rude and disrespectful people.  When the President stated the fact that the health care reform bill does not afford coverage to people who are in the US illegally, Rep. Joe Wilson (SC) shouted “You lie!” making the Congressman the liar. But I digress.

The President could easily have responded  to unexpected rudeness as many of us have. He could have handily shot back a history-making zinger. But it was the President’s choice not to that was most note-worthy.

After the speech a friend on Twitter asked “Heckling the Prez? Sheesh! Explain that 2 kids! arg!” If you’re worrying about that, don’t. The real lesson wasn’t in the rudeness of Rep. Wilson (whose name will be remembered for none of the reasons his parents imagined when their son was elected to Congress). The real lesson for kids was delivered by President Obama, some of whose critics were so bent out of shape Tuesday when he visited a high school that at least one was seen carrying a sign saying “Keep the president away from our kids!” 

Kids, here’s the real lesson from last night’s “interaction”: When someone disrespects you, you can choose to retaliate or not. When some jerk calls you a liar, or worse, you can do what Barack Obama did last night… you can control yourself. The President’s display of self-respect as well as respect for the people in that room and for the office he holds sends just the right message.

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