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A kick in the pants – parenting

October 5, 2010
by Paul Jones

Last night at our son’s school was host to Jodee Blanco.  Her program was a look at bullying through the eyes of a survivor.  It was a true kick in the pants.  As a parent, you can find yourself in the throes of daily life.  That overscheduled run-from-here-to-there-slam-homework-scarf-dinner… routine, that no matter what we do to slow it down, it happens that way.  We can lose the communication with our kids.  We ask how their day was, and we get an answer (usually “fine”) and we start talking about the next thing on the to-do list.  How do we know if our child is the bullier or the bullied?  Do we know the signs?  Jodee presented a first hand view of a wounded heart, that suffered torment after torment by classmates that had me recoiling in disbelief.  As a parent I would be mortified if that were happening to my child, or if my child were the perpetrator of such an act.  But it happens daily, and as Ms Blanco so rightly says, in the eyes of the bully, “It’s Just Joking Around”.  The tragedy of Columbine truly brought the effect of bullying and loneliness to the forefront.  I remember exactly where I was on April 20, 1999.  That was the day our son was born, and I sat holding him, watching as the events at Columbine High School unfolded.

I write as someone that has his own history with teasing and picking on.  Both sides of that coin, to be exact.  But not nearly the heart wrenching episodes that Ms Blanco suffered in her middle school and high school life.  She could have easily been a suicide statistic.  Her parental guidance strategies for dealing with a bullied or a bullying child center on one theme.  Compassion.  By teaching our children compassion, it goes a long way towards keeping the bullying attitude in check.  Caring for each other as kids is building the foundation to be compassionate adults.  We as parents MUST be the role models.  We have to teach by doing.  Basically, if you act like an ass, expect your kids to do the exact same.

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