Dear Lauren,

A girl in my class wants to have a sleep-over with me. But she’s really snobby and not nice and I don’t want to spend time with her. What should I do?

Lauren Roth

Lauren Roth's Answer

You don’t have to spend time with anyone who doesn’t treat you nicely. If there’s one important thing I would love young people to learn early on, it’s that. You deserve to be treated with kindness. If someone doesn’t do that, you don’t need them in your life.

You deserve to be treated with kindness. If someone doesn’t do that, you don’t need them in your life.

Our purpose for being here on Earth is to give kindness. If someone is mean, stay away. Even if someone is not mean, just “not so caring” or “not so thoughtful,” you don’t have an obligation to spend time with them.

A few years ago, we used to have a certain family member fairly regularly in our home. Because it was a family member, I didn’t really have a choice about having this person stay over. You, on the other hand – lucky you! – can choose to stay away from this girl in your class.

This particular family member used to wear heavy doses of perfume, which would leave our guest room suffused with the scent for weeks. That would have been great for other guests who liked that particular scent, except that it was really bothersome to guests who didn’t. And there were a few other regular guests who were very bothered by the smell left behind.

Also, our kids had allergies, and the perfume bothered them and made their sneezy, watery-eyed, itchy throat, runny nose symptoms worse.

So, of course, I asked this woman to please not bring her perfume anymore. She agreed – and proceeded to bring it anyway. And to apply it. In heavy doses!

Not nice, right?

A friend was helping me figure out how to deal with this issue. I remember saying to her: “It’s just not nice! It’s just mean! How could she do that?” And she replied: “It’s not mean; she just doesn’t know.” To which I said: “I respectfully disagree. It is mean, because certain things you’re supposed to know. For example, you can’t just walk into someone’s house, step all over their toes, and then say, ‘Oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t realize that people have toes!’ It’s your job to realize that people have toes!

Everyone is supposed to be nice. And if someone never learned how to be nice, that’s not an excuse. They have to start learning now. And until they do learn how to be nice, you are allowed to stay away from them.

There was a couple who married a few months ago. Before they married, I told them: “Neither of you are ready to get married. Neither of you yet know how to be truly kind and giving.” Even though they had asked for my advice, they didn’t like hearing that! (Who would?!)

Needless to say, after a few months of not being treated right, the woman left the marriage and asked for a divorce. Too bad she didn’t learn when she was your age (or at least before she married him): 1. You have to be nice. 2. Don’t enter into relationships with people who aren’t nice to you.

This weekend we had the honor and the privilege of hosting Rabbi Akiva Tatz in our home. (I asked him if I could write about this, by the way. I am respectful of the rights of others!)

He was a paragon of how to treat other people. He was brought to our home on Friday afternoon, just before Shabbat, and immediately asked, as he wheeled his suitcase to the guest room, “What can I do to help you? I do floors.”

That’s how you treat other people.

And after the Friday night Shabbat meal, it was 1 AM and there was a lot of cleanup to do (we had hosted 50 people to hear him). Did he go off to sleep? No! He said, “Where is a garbage bag? I’ll help clean up.”

That’s how you treat other people.

And when he left after Havdallah on Saturday night, his room was spotless and the bed was made. That’s how a good person treats other people.

If someone is mean to you, snobby to you, not nice to you: stay away. You don’t deserve that. Everyone’s job is to be nice. If someone isn’t doing their job, they don’t deserve your friendship.