Thursday, March 19, 2009
Making Things Fair
On my last post, I talked about Luke's disappointment and the fact that we can't make everything right for our children. In the comment section, Dani Joy wrote, "Actually, lately they have been getting ridiculed in Karate and in the park. My hubby has great advise for them but as a mommy I want to just go and take care of it all. What advise would you give?"
I can give advice here, but I have to warn you that I'm not an expert. I have the experience of a mother of twenty years (I can't believe I"m actually admitting that!) and I have six children. My mothering skills are sometimes suspect--although so are my cooking skills. And I haven't killed anybody yet (with either skills) so that has to count for something. Right? But before I give the advice, I do need to make the following disclaimer:
The advice presented here in no way is a replacement for professional advice. Some advice from me has been known to cause dizziness, headaches, tears and the occasional upset stomach. If these symptoms persist or are intense, discontinue my advice and seek a doctor's help immediately. Or simply don't seek my advice again.
Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, on to the ridiculing. I mean the advice about ridiculing. I mean the advice about dealing with the ridiculing. (I'm not an expert at this; did I mention that?) When someone teases or ridicules my children, as a mother I want to pin that person up against the wall with their feet dangling and make sure they understand the results of their ill choices in life. However, a mom that attacks a ten-year-old--no matter how big a bully he is--tends to be frowned on by the authorities. And by the ten-year-old's mother. And by society in general. So I've never done that. That's just my first instinct. Just wanted you to know that was a normal feeling, but don't act on it.
All kidding aside, I have found in the majority of times, a parent's involvement in a problem between children only makes it worse. I would never tolerate abuse of my children. But on the other hand, there are bullies and mockers in the adult world too. And if I deal with everyone that picks on my child, he will never learn to stand up for himself. When my children have complained about someone making fun of them, I usually do several things. For what they're worth, here they are:
1. I chat back and forth with my child and casually ask a few questions. Once in a great while, my child has done something to bring this on themselves. The important thing is to get the whole story, but also to let your child know that you hear them. You're listening.
2. Depending on the situation, I might tell my child to ignore it and it will go away. Or I might give my child a few quips to toss back (I don't aim for insulting--just funny). I might also remind my child of all the friends he has that don't make fun. (Kind of refocus him, if you will.)
3. I pray with my child. I don't ask God to make the problem go away. I ask God to give my child wisdom to deal with it.
4. I remind my child to remember what this feels like if they ever get tempted to make fun of or bully someone else.
5. I reassure my child of how much they're loved.
6. After my child has gone on their way, I pray that God will give me the wisdom I need. And that's usually when I do ask Him to make the bully go away. : )
Some things I don't do:
1. I don't usually have a talk with the bully or the "maker-funner" person.
2. I don't tell my child bad things about the bully. Ex: "He's bigger than everyone else because it took him three years to get through second grade."
3. I don't shadow my child like a personal bodyguard, standing on the sidelines and glowering menacingly at the bully. (Although I may show up once or twice, unannounced, just to gauge the situation for myself.)
4. I don't "make it up to my child" by giving him extra privileges, special treats, etc. (My reasons here would make an entire post on their own.)
5. I don't pull my child out of the situation (remove him from the class, take him to another playground, etc.) unless the situation gets extreme.
These are just some basic, general guidelines. I should also say that these are strictly for bullying or unkind mocking situations. These are not rules we live by in the general raising of our kids. For instance, we do give them special treats sometimes. Just not to make up for wrong that someone else has done. Generally speaking.
Okay, have I issued enough disclaimers to keep myself out of trouble? Probably not. Go ahead with comments, questions, disagreements. I can take it. And I promise not to stand here and glower menacingly at my computer while I read them either. As for pinning you up against a wall with your feet dangling, well ...
Posted by Jill at 8:29 AM