Good Advice from My Grandma


Anytime I asked "what to do" when someone did me wrong, my grandmother (we called her DauDau) told me to "kill ‘em with kindness."

I sort of followed her advice out of shyness. I seldom stood up for myself, ever, until I got married. Isn't it awful how much worse we treat the ones we love than we do those who are relatively unimportant?

It took me a long time to really embrace DauDau's advice. It came back to me in different phrases, from different voices. I knew I was about to loose my husband. I started reading all of the "save your marriage" self-help literature I could find. The basic messages were to be attractive, to stop trying to change your spouse and focus on what you could change about yourself. I haven't perfected the behaviors, but I have certainly improved my attitude.

It sounds simplistic, but it's not. Saving my marriage was extremely important to me, and I focused as much of my energy as I possibly could on being the best wife I could be. He was (maybe understandably) not treating me very well, but I concentrated on not reacting impulsively, on being "nice", nicer than I'd ever been. I bit my tongue, conceded to stuff I didn't really want to do. I stopped pointing out the many ways he was hurting my feelings and tried to be kind to him.

An amazing thing happened. As I let go of my resentment and concentrated on what I could do out of love and kindness for my husband, I started to notice that he was being pretty nice now and then too! Kindness is contagious!

Eventually, our relationship improved. Eventually, I had space in my attention to look at how I really applied this lesson in the rest of my life.

As I said, I was shy. I am not confrontational. I've improved in my adult life and learned to be more confident in many situations. In my career, I'm confident, for example. Socially, I help organize a very successful meetup group. But in some of my more superficial relationships, I realized that my stilted politeness in the face of rudeness was never genuinely kind.

Kindness requires an attempt to be empathetic. It's more than simply politeness. It is taking time to consider someone else's perspective, what would really make them feel better.

I'm still working on improvement, but I'm more convinced than ever that DauDau gave me the secret to happiness. The "kill ‘em" part is what threw me for so long. It's not about what you are doing to them; it's about what you do for yourself. Treating other people with kindness, with genuine concern for their well-being, makes you feel better. The point is to take the focus off of what they are doing and focus on what you can do to improve their interaction with you. Shed the victim mentality and believe in your power to be kind.

Thanks, DauDau!

Copyright Dineane Whitaker 2008 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url:

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Comments 5 comments

cvaughn570 8 years ago

This is wonderful advice as I have used it a time or two in life and it definitely works;-)

Thanks for sharing,


John Chancellor profile image

John Chancellor 8 years ago from Tennessee

If is good to reflect back when our mothers and grandmothers offered this wonderful advice.  I remember the quote attributed to Mark Twain, "When I was 14, my father was the dumbest man in the world.  When I got to be 21, it was amazing how much he had learned in those seven years." 

I think we tend to discount the wisdom of the older people in our lives ... until we can draw on it and see that it really works.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

In order to be kind to the person who hurt us, I believe we have to take our feet out of our own shoes and put them into that person's. Said in another way, the person who hurts us is more pained and needing of compassion than we are.

Your grandmother knew this. And she knew that it's more than *catching flies with honey*.

Another wonderful reflection and sharing, Dineane.

dineane profile image

dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks, Sally's Trove...I agree and believe 100% they are hurting more. It's just so hard to realize that sometimes! Worth the effort though.

dineane profile image

dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks, John, you are right...too bad we have to prove everything ourselves instead of learning from the lessons of others!

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