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Use Parents to Bust up Bullies!

by Archie Wortham    --show me more like this

Many school shootings seem to be the result of bullying, and apparently, no one is doing anything about it. That's tragic! But I hardly thought it was lethal. The lethality of this is compounded when we, as parents, fail to speak up for our kids. That's the worst bullying that goes on. When we tell our kids to back down, when we know they are right, we are wrong. When we fail to confront another parent with issues we have about ‘their' child, we destroy an innate belief in themselves each kids needs to survive. When parents fail to even try at reconciling differences with other parents, we cripple our kids to be bullied.

I was bullied as a kid. I learned to avoid situations that spelled trouble or I waited until a teacher or adult was around to help me confront my bully. I could hide in just so many books. Adults couldn't be there all the time. Without a dad around, to teach me how to handle myself, I was often ridiculed, teased, devastated, and angry! Kids didn't want to be around the kid that got bullied. They might incur the bully's wrath if they chose to stand up for me. A few people did. There were my heroes. So I vowed I'd make sure my sons knew how to stand on their own.

Now before you get any ideas, I'm not a boxer, and neither are either of our boys. I warn them as Shakespeare admonished, "Discretion is the better part of valor," and I espouse the idea, choose your battles carefully. You can't win them all, but it's okay to fight back. As parents, we need to make sure our children learn how to battle for what they know is right. And if for some reason our kids feel they have been wronged, then we need to help them find a way to resolve it--to right the wrong. Penalizing them by ignoring people or situations we don't like frightens them and lays the groundwork for prejudices.

Recently, one of my students gave a talk about the ‘Little Rock Nine.' For those of you who have forgotten this bit of American history, it's about the nine black students who were selected to integrate Little Rock Central High School. President Eisenhower had to bring in the National Guard to contain the ‘out-of-control' bullying incited by many of the parents. Three boys and six girls were taunted through most of their high school years, but they survived, and changed history by standing up for what they knew to be right.

I grew up in that era. I would not have been able to sustain myself because I didn't not have a family strong enough to understand the idea that ‘anger' is okay. ‘Anger' is okay as long as you don't let it control you. ‘Anger' is okay, as long as it doesn't get the best of you. ‘Anger' is okay as long as you remember that if you succumb to it, you resolve it with the person who angered you. And do it quickly. Apologize. Learn to talk about it. Most of all we need to teach our kids to use their communicative skills to resolve issues, rather than coming to us and asking us to intercede. Will you be doing this for them when they disagree with a teacher? Will you be doing this for them if a realtor refuses to give them back a deposit that belongs to them? Will you be doing this if they are tempted with drugs, sex or some form of violence? Will you be interceding all these times? Well what happens if you are unable to be there? Who will they blame?

I try to teach our sons a lot of things. They are pains in the butt sometimes, but I encourage them to stand up for what they feel is their right. The same rights women fought for and got in 1912. The same rights the Little Rock nine fought for in 1957. Remember, if we don't' teach our children to assert themselves, then we are paving the way for people to bully them the rest of their lives. As parents, let's talk to each other; otherwise, we might be setting our children up to vent themselves in a way we all will regret. Who we gonna' call then? Ghostbusters?

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