Today I would like to talk about something we ALL can do to help combat bullying and it begins with us as parents.
I truly believe that the best gift we can give our children is a proper upbringing. If parents instill proper values in their children right off the bat, nurture them, teach right from wrong, and model appropriate behavior, children will grow up to be adults with respect, morals, and values. I realize there are exceptions to some situations and we can talk about that later, but I really believe that this begins at home and it begins with the parents.
When I was a child, I was taught about respect and kindness at an early age. I knew that my elders were to be respected. I remember my parents saying “You have to be a friend to have a friend” and “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.”
Using manners and living with integrity, demonstrating respect for others, and showing empathy and respect, etc. were things drilled into my head back as far as I can remember. I did as I was told. It was really quite simple–you did what was expected of you or you had consequences. You listened to your teacher. I can’t believe the disrespect shown to teachers at times.
All too often in my own life, I also see children disrespecting their parents. I have seen children putting their hands on other kids and being mean right in front of their parents without fear of consequences. In many of these situations, there aren’t any consequences. So many parents stand by and watch this type of thing happen and they do nothing. These parents are part of the problem. Do not think that I am a hard as nails, rigid type of parent with a drill-sergeant persona. I am not. We do not believe in spanking or any type of corporal punishment, for example. We personally do not believe that hurting our children is the right thing to do. An effective punishment is still good old “time out”. We also believe that modeling appropriate behavior (the way my hubby and I speak to each other and interact and the way the kids see us treat other people in general) and making our expectations clear right off the bat will help the boys grow up to become the kind of men we want them to be.
Our boys know what is expected of them. They know how to treat people. They show their elders respect and if they speak inappropriately or do something we do not feel is right, there are immediate consequences.
Our boys have been told that we will always love and support them, but if they ever treat another human being in a way that would be considered bullying, it will not be tolerated and there will be consequences.
This is something I have been thinking about a great deal lately. I have been trying to think about HOW a parent could justify or rationalize any type of bullying, whether it be verbal or physical. In thinking about this, I realize that I have even had some casual friends–fellow parents–who let this behavior slide and who make excuses for their kids. It makes me feel guilty by association. Does that make sense?
My refusal to let this matter at school rest has even tested friendships of my own and has even questioned my ability to be a good judge of character. I don’t mean to ramble here, but something I am struggling with is the fact that not all of the people I would have considered friends even just a few days ago are supporting my decision to speak out about this. I will not, however, apologize for being an advocate for my child. In the end I realize, though, that true friends would be appalled by what happened to my son, right?