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On a recent afternoon, my 18-year-old daughter was pursued and harassed in a parking lot by a 60-year-old woman because of my daughter’s Obama bumper sticker.

Even though a verbal attack by a stranger in a parking lot warrants a call to the police, my daughter bravely engaged in a conversation that was very uncivil on the part of this stranger. She chose to meet this woman’s irrational and offensive tirade against Democrats, the president and “those” poor people on Fifth Street with a rational explanation of her experiences and her beliefs that this woman did not deserve. I could not be prouder of my child.

As Americans, we are extremely fortunate to live in a free society. There are productive options for dealing with frustration and disagreement with our government. Bullying teenagers is not productive; this kind of vitriol must stop in our community and in our country. We have the opportunity to make appointments with legislators, protest in Washington, write letters to the president, give money to organizations that represent our beliefs, and take a myriad of other constructive options. Thankfully, schoolteachers, our friends and family have taught our child these appropriate civic actions and she has chosen to engage in all of them.

My husband and I come from a family of Republicans. Our education, life experiences and Christian faith journeys have lead us to a different way of believing our nation’s problems can and should be solved. We have raised our children to find their own paths, which might be similar to ours, but might differ as well. We are also raising them to be respectful and to listen openly to the opinions of others.

It is unclear what agenda this stranger had when she pursued our daughter, but what our daughter learned is one more reason why she has chosen her belief system. So although I am disturbed by the woman’s actions, I am also grateful for helping my child to even more clearly define who she is and how she respects others. Maybe when this woman arrived home, she realized that she learned the same.

Susan Goins-Eplee Albemarle