IT’S NOT EASY IS IT?
trying to find a title for a discussion of this magnitude is not easy.
trying to find a way to speak openly and frankly about this subject is not easy.
trying to come to grips with teen and young adult suicide is not easy.
trying to understand the minds of those that bully, in real space or cyber space, is not easy.
trying to find a solution is not easy.
seeing signs or hearing that your child may be a bully is not easy.
taking responsibility is not easy.
OR IS IT?
justifying their actions is easy.
saying that’s just how kids are is easy.
victim blaming is easy.
changing the channel or turning the page is easy.
giving a silent prayer of thanks that it’s not your child so not your problem is easy.
judging others is easy.
facing facts is not.
WHERE ARE WE GOING WRONG?
Shannon Gallagher: (this one is especially hard to fathom…the teen sister of a cyber bullied suicide victim)
this list is far from complete, but I find I can look at no more.
those families left behind have not been idle.
they’ve formed foundations, initiated awareness campaigns, and again, the list goes on and on.
as do the suicides.
additionally, we now have, literally at our fingertips, the following, just to name a few of the resources available, as a direct result of this problem:
- no bullying websites – one example
NoBullying.com features many pages dedicated to parents, teens, teachers, health professionals as well as posts related to cyber safety and the latest news about law making concerning curbing bullying worldwide as well as inspirational bullying poems and famous bullying quotes
- suicide prevention blogs – one example
- national suicide hotlines – one example
- cyber bullying studies and statistics one example
wherein they recite:
The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center estimates that nearly 30 percent of American youth are either a bully or a target of bullying
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people with approximately 4,400 deaths every year
(and those stats are just here, but this is not an American problem. this is a world problem.)
- child protection software
- web filtering software
- social media safety programs
- free teen safety e-books
so…what are we missing?
what are we doing wrong?
or maybe the better question is…
what are we NOT doing right?
I am no judge
I am no jury
I am no winner of any super parent of the year award
however…I am a survivor.
and living proof that
‘it’s a phase’
belongs at the top of “The Worst Things A Parent Can Assume” list
STOP! DON’T ASSUME! ASK! LISTEN! PAY ATTENTION!
no one knows your child better than you do. and no one does or will ever, care more.
and then there is “The Worst Things A Parent Can Say” list
(and I’m as guilty as the next guy for saying most of these things because I heard those things):
“that’s just how kids are”
“you’ll grow out of it”
“you’ll get over it, you’ll see”
“go find something to do”
“it’s not that important”
“ignore it, they’ll get bored”
“you don’t want to be like everyone else do you?”
“you’re too young to understand”
“sticks and stones…”
i am not being a Monday morning quarterback, at least, I hope you don’t see it that way.
i am not blaming all parents for all things as I certainly couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I took the blame for everything my children did growing up.
what I am trying to do, is shed some light on a few of THE most common, albeit loving, words of advice and/or wisdom we impart to our kids in an attempt to make them ‘feel better’ about themselves.
it doesn’t work. I know, that’s harsh.
but it doesn’t work.
our children know we love them. they know we’ll say anything to make it better (in our own minds).
but we need to stop putting acne cream or liquid foundation on what WE PERCIEVE to be our kids’ source of their low self-image, and I say that because, if they saw themselves as WE do, this would not be the fucking horrific problem it is.
they don’t see themselves through OUR eyes.
they see themselves through the eyes of their peers.
just as the majority of all of us did.
no…this is not a new war.
it’s an old war on a different battleground.
an anonymous one.
one that affords bullies (who otherwise might not ever have dreamed of pulling the trigger) a haven of relative safety with which to thrust their swords of misguided judgment and fire those malice filled bullets.
all in an attempt to…what?
you know the answer.
to hide their own insecurities, to assuage their own feelings of inadequacy, to belie the perception that they are lacking, to feel big, and most importantly…to mask their own pain. to make themselves feel better than…by making someone else feel worse than.
this is not a new concept.
and it’s certainly not only employed by teenage bullies.
knowing this…is it a stretch to think that the corporate bullies, the ball field bullies, the ‘my kid is better than your kid’ bullies, were bullied as youths?
on the flip side…
if not bullied…were bullies as children, left to their own devices because ‘that’s just kids being kids”?
sadly, there is no easy solution.
it’s not easy, after all.
but…there are things we can do, as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, friends…
stop making assumptions
stop making excuses
stop enabling our kids by ‘trying to be friends’
be a parent now and a friend later.
if you feel the no…say the no.
if ‘but johnny has one’ or ‘suzie gets to’ arguments sway you…get to know johnny and suzie a little better so you can perhaps point out to your kids the things they have that johnny and suzie do not.
allow your children to suffer the consequence of their choices but always offer an alternative to better ones. don’t take away the responsibility of their actions because you feel sorry for them.
if they say they hate you now…they’ll love you later, especially when they have their own kids.
no amount of money you spend ‘keeping up with…’ will ever make them feel pretty or popular on the outside if they don’t feel it on the inside. give them reasons to feel it on the inside. teach them compassion and empathy by living it. teach them to see beyond by doing it.
temper the time spent praising their feats by counting their blessings, whatever they might be.
teach them that each of us are blessed in our own way, some on the outside, some on the inside, but it’s all worthy of love and respect.
help them celebrate our differences by being well-rounded, informed, engaged, and interested parents who take the time to get to know their school, their teachers, their friends, and their friends parents.
yes, this is a different age. parents today have very little free time.
but…that was our choice yes?
say what you will…but every generation’s evolution is a direct result of that generation’s choices.
we cannot use ‘I have no time’ as an excuse to not raise our own kids.
we cannot blame society or teachers for ‘not giving’ our children the values we should be giving them at home.
our children need us.
they will never admit to this, but they do.
not just the first 10 years or the next…
it is a lifetime job.
and the job of a lifetime.
let’s help give our kids that lifetime, that looooong lifetime.
i dedicate this post to the fire starter, you know who you are, and you know what you mean to me…and i thank you for knowing i had something to say, no matter how small