Thursday, November 14, 2013

and now for something completely different...

Well, not really but...

This morning there was a lot of buzz about a blog post by Stephanie Metz.  She ranted about modern parenting but, in particular, this one piece is generating a lot of comments:

There was a time - not too long ago - when bullying was defined as slamming someone up against a locker and stealing their lunch money.  There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this).  Now, if Sally calls Susie a bitch (please excuse my language if that offends you), Susie's whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party.  And Sally - phew!  She should be jailed!  She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like - gasp - a teenage girl acts.

Modern parenting and thinking makes me crazy.  The young generations of today (yes, I sound old.  I realize I'm only 29 years old.) are being taught that they shouldn't have to ever put up with anything doesn't make their hearts feel like rainbow colored unicorns are running around pooping skittles onto piles of marshmallows.

Modern parenting is creating a generation that's not going to be able to function in society.

While many parts of the full post are to the point, I wanted to address this part specifically to Stephanie:

Stephanie, you need to understand what bullying really is.

Bullying is not a single action situation (your example of calling Susie a bitch and her world falling apart is not, on its own, bullying).  Bullying is a repeated and constant behavior that does not abate in spite of being addressed.  So, in her example, Sally's actions would only be considered bullying if this were a constant, repeating situation that was part of a systemic attack (verbal or physical) on Susie.

If you want your kids to learn about the real world, then consider this, Sally's actions are called assault.  If it is accompanied by a physical action, it's called assault and battery.  People are arrested for assault and battery.  People can be jailed for assault and battery.  That's the real world because, when you're a grown up, bullying is called abusive behavior.  It's not a question of toughening up, growing a thicker skin or however you want to categorize it.  In school situations, we try to address it so kids understand their actions have consequences.

I get it, you're 29 and your kids are young.  I'm half a century+ in here and my kids are college age and beyond, so my perspective is rather different.

You're upset your kid's toy may be perceived as a gun.  Ask parents who live in areas where violence is common how they feel about the idea of guns in schools.   It is sad to say that, for many, schools are the only safe place for their children in this country and the thought of guns in that environment would be too much for them.  I am truly grateful I have never had to cower with my children in the bathtub when that all too familiar "pop pop pop" begins to resound - but there are way too many people in this country who do.

Your kid may come from a home with loving parents that do their best to raise them.  He may be sitting next to a kid who, on the surface, has a great life but, at night, dad beats mom and the kids if he had a bad day.  He may be in a sharing group with kids who rely on school lunch as their only meal of the day (unless your school also has a breakfast program) or any number of things that can be happening with the other 20+ kids around him.  That perception of a gun is no big deal to you, but to a kid who is constantly picked on and - yes - bullied, it may be the thing that gets him thinking darkly.

The teacher, that adult in the front of the room, needs to be aware and sensitive to all that in hopes the kids can make the benchmarks some politician that has no clue what happens in a classroom has set for them and your children.  They also have to be aware that Susie has an "uncle" that's acting a bit too friendly because she alluded to it in a piece of fiction and is working behind the scenes with a social worker, principal and others to help find out if she's safe.  So maybe Sally's calling her a "bitch" that day was nothing in your mind, it may have been the straw that broke the camel's back for Susie.  Maybe you heard it once but Sally said it every time she saw Susie, posted it to her facebook wall, tweeted it and captioned the embarrassing photo of Susie which Sally caught in the locker room on her cellphone that she then instagramed out to the world.

You never know because we're humans and that's why our facebook pages are filled with cat videos and happy observations.  We put up a good front until the whole thing comes tumbling down.

So yeah, I think you need some perspective on that part of your rant.  As far as the constant entertaining your children and the electronics - you're on the right track.  I am a true "blessing of a skinned knee" kind of person that believes the best path to success is overcoming failure.  I am also a person who believes balance is key in any situation and you're not seeing the other side of the scales you're sitting upon.

I hope your child is never bullied the way my son was in 3rd grade.  He's now a college graduate but he still carries the emotional scars of the constant and consistent verbal and physical attacks of a classmate that culminated in me insisting an adult always be present to keep my son safe.  Even then, the bully was still able to attack my son and our best solution was to just move to a different community.  You can call that an extreme situation, but it is far more common than you think.

Bullies grow into abusers.  Their targets can grow into victims.  You don't know who is bullied at home and under what circumstances so to say "kids need to..."  "parents need to..." "schools need to..." is a perspective you're welcome to so long as you are open to learning about why others will pushback.

It's called real life and it's what you were advocating for in your post.

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