The Slap Heard Round the World: A Teachable Moment

April 8, 2022 Type - BLOG

The discussion started with my teenage son, “I don’t blame Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock. He insulted his wife, who has a physical condition, and he deserved it.” My immediate response was that there’s never an excuse for violence. I shared with my son the importance of self-awareness and self-regulation; how one moment, one impulsive action can significantly impact your life, career, and friends. And how, if Will Smith had been able to regulate and calm himself at that moment, he could have retaliated at Chris Rock in a plethora of ways.

Will Smith is one of the biggest stars on the planet. And in response to that statement, my son replied, “Yeah, he could’ve crushed him with one Tweet and ended his career.” Well, that or, had he controlled his impulse, he could’ve later used his notoriety as a platform to show compassion for people going through physical disorders such as Alopecia. And had he waited and approached it differently, Chris Rock would’ve been the one looking like the bad guy.

Did you notice that Will Smith was regretful about his actions just moments afterward? For this reason, in instants such as these, we must practice self-awareness and self-regulation strategies to be bigger than a single moment and respond rather than react.

As my son began to get carried away with thoughts of Will Smith’s rash impulsivity, I also wanted to remind him about the concept of compassion for all. Considering, why wasn’t Will Smith able to control himself? It seems reasonable to assume that Will Smith has been in stressful situations before. He has faced varying levels of scrutiny and critique throughout his career. What could’ve potentially led up to such an uncharacteristic outburst?

Perhaps Jada felt insecure because of her hair loss while getting ready for her husband’s big night. Maybe Will had witnessed his wife in pain and struggling, and that’s why Chris Rock’s comment sent him over the edge. Another lesson I shared is how we should always show kindness because we don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Jokingly or not, any unkind comment could sting deeply and hurt someone.

As a parent in this challenging world, I use moments like this to engage with my kids. Right or wrong, real or fake, the slap heard ’round the world’ presents yet another opportunity for sharing, listening, and understanding. 

Hearing my son’s perspective on how Will Smith reacted at that moment and how he should or could have handled himself provides insight into who my son is as a human and what he may be up against in this world. We must first connect and understand each other before we can impart wisdom or advice, and that applies to our connections with anyone in our lives, not just our children.

I cannot stress enough the importance of not just talking to but also listening to our children. Our kids are growing up in a world of content overload. Our job as parents is to have conversations with them, talk about real-world situations, and share the values that we find essential. And it’s equally important to hear them.

The world in which our children are growing up is vastly different from our own experiences. It would be foolish to assume that we can tell kids and teens how to exist, live, and survive in this modern culture without first hearing what it’s like from them firsthand.

~Shari Kline Resident IT GURU

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