it’s not easy

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.

but…

facing facts is not.

easy.

WHERE ARE WE GOING WRONG?

Mattie Yates:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2607248/Im-doing-world-favor-Heartbreaking-farewell-video-girl-16-posted-YouTube-committing-suicide.html

Amanda Todd:

Ryan Halligan:

http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/index.htm

Megan Meier:

http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/megans-story.html

Phoebe Prince:

http://www.truecrimereport.com/2010/01/phoebe_prince_15_commits_suici.php

Jessica Logan:

Tyler Clementi:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/30/tyler-clementi-gay-student-suicide

Shannon Gallagher: (this one is especially hard to fathom…the teen sister of a cyber bullied suicide victim)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/shannon-gallagher-sister-cyberbullying-suicide-erin-gallagher_n_2296488.html

Rehtaeh Parsons:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/09/rehtaeh-parsons-girl-dies-suicide-rape-canada_n_3045033.html

Audrey Pott:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/reports-3-teens-admit-assaulting-norcal-girl-who-later-killed-herself/

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

http://www.activeminds.org/our-programming/awareness-campaigns/suicide-prevention-month/suicide-prevention-month-blog

  • national suicide hotlines – one example

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

  • cyber bullying studies and statistics one example

http://cyberbullying.ua.edu/index.php/casestudies/

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.)

PLUS:

  • 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?

nope.

OR

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.

please

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

26 thoughts on “it’s not easy

  1. A highly charged and emotional post WW, and one that is deserving of all the passion we can muster. A problem that seems to intensify in scope, but is hardly new. And yet – despite the horror and the pain and the loss and the diminishment – it persists. Great post though I wish with all my heart no child ever experience such pain. xx

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    • as do I mim. to experience it as a child is bad enough…but to live and grow from it can be the mixed blessing. to experience it as a child and not get to see there is another way…just tears me up inside. xo

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  2. Stunned, my friend. That list of kids who have faded away alone… that got me. Such fire, but it was not I who started it, this is all pure passionate amazing you, I know you do not live near me, but I feel your caring. I feel that, and it makes me warm even as it makes me cry. I don’t really have words for this, or to express how much I am with you in this, and how scary it truly is to still be in the stage of having young ones and praying that we don’t screw up. They are too precious. They are too important. They are everything. They will make the world right if we let them, I know it. But we have to guide them. We have to help. We have to be parents. We have to be hard at times, I know it. Thank you for reminding me of the thing I can do most in my life to make this world better – I can care for my kids, even if that means displeasing them. Even if that means saying no.

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    • It was your post Goodbyes that would not leave me and I think you felt that from my comments. Thank you for not letting it lie. Yes…they are everything, which is why some find it so hard to disappoint them. But where else in their lives will the answer always be yes? Nowhere…so disappointment looms on their horizon and it is harder for them to deal with it then, if they have not learned it from a young age. Saying no is not easy, especially when the reasons are above their level of comprehension. I think that’s where the term “because I said so” came from…parents saying no without being able to explain why in a way the child would understand. There really is a fine line between saying no for cause and saying no for fear. We don’t want to project our fears onto our kids, or make them afraid to spread their wings…but at the same time, we have to be the ones to step between them and anything that could take their life in the wrong direction before they are mature enough to make that choice on their own. If saying no is the only way we can do that…then say no all day long. I’ll stop here and just say this…enjoy your children’s childhood, let them keep it as long as possible, be the wind beneath their wings as you help them learn to fly, and stand in the open and let them see you have hold of the kite tale just in case.

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  3. Just read this again, as I’ve not been able to shake the voice that came out of this. Seriously SB, what a piece. I feel like you just captured a thousand thoughts of importance to parents and kids, and strung them together in a song. Not an easy song, but a song anyway.

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    • It felt like a thousand thoughts NB and feels like there are a thousand more. It’s a daunting image when looking at it in the long run, so take it one day, one stumble, one triumph at a time. This is the best time of your life, and with your help, it will be theirs. Proactive, Available, Resolved, Engaged, Nurturing, Tenacious, Sincere – PARENTS
      (ha…corny…I know) Think of your own words, and live by them. 🙂

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  4. It took me awhile to read through the links – thank you for posting this, Rhonda – I am much more aware now about what his happening and it is heartbreaking and shocking. Cyberdom is a dangerous place and I want to vomit at how many kids have been hurt like this. The suicides (here in Australia too) are becoming epidemic.

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    • It is absolutely a world problem Jules. Another benefit (?) of the internet…one can be thousands of miles away yet make a fatal blow to a child in turmoil. It’s out there, it’s known, it’s being thrust into the open, there are resources…yet it still happens. The answers lie at home. We must take our kids out of the potential victim pool by teaching them how to swim.

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  5. Dearest Rhonda, I am especially proud to be your friend when you courageously write posts such as this one and your message is so profoundly real to so many lives. We live in a suicide zone here where many people jump in front of trains (mostly high school boys) which tears me apart considering how epidemic it is to the area where I live ~ and that I have 2 sons of age. I do not take your warnings lightly ~ I tweeted your amazing post in hopes that others will read your message. Big hugs to you and yours ~ as always, I am grateful for our connection. xoxo

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    • I am horrified to hear there are suicide zones my friend. I cannot, just cannot, bear the thought of young ones feeling so utterly lost and alone that the only way out is in front of a train. I pray every day for guidance Yvonne…there are so many places in our children’s lives where evil hides in plain site. Thank you for tweeting this…I don’t have a great number of followers and I do feel strongly about the message. Your support and presence is a gift I do not take for granted. xoxo

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  6. Excellent post! Thank you for sharing. For my twopence worth….it starts and ends with a parents relationship and conversations with their children..if we did all do this, the world would be a better place. Sadly – we often do not realise this until too late. An excellent read.

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