I knew someday I would write about this and after reading a few things from some of my friends on Facebook lately, today is that day. Everyone has stuff. Every family has problems. Every kid struggles in one way or another...some more than others. I think its time we all stepped up for those kids.
I read super sad stories all of the time from grief stricken parents about their children and teenagers taking their own lives or struggling with anxiety and depression because of bullying. Bullying isn't just abuse, aggression or intimidation; it takes on many forms these days. There is the ever present social media bullying and then there is the silent bullying or the exclusion bullying. Depression and anxiety amongst kids and teens is at an all time high. We have to save these children. We do that by becoming their advocates!!! We as parents can no longer sit back and be afraid to speak up in fear of being chastised for "playing victim," or being too sensitive.
Every child, every teen and every single adult has their own struggles. Your struggle may not have anything to do with bullying but don't you want people to have compassion for your trials and tribulations even if they don't understand? Your problem is real to you, right? Then don't discount someone else's heartache because you have never gone through it. This is where it stops...empathy! If you see or hear of another parent or child who is coping with an adversity, reach out to them, be kind, don't gossip about their struggle and never diminish it...especially in front of your own kids. When you discredit someone else's battles, you are teaching your kid to do the same.
We all want to see positive messages and posts on social media because it tugs at our heart to see anything but. We want to see pictures of families having fun and laughing, we want to hear about an awesome vacation or a job promotion. It's human nature. But social media shouldn't be all fictitious and phony happiness because life isn't all rainbows and unicorns. Social media is a part of life now...if you are reading this, you made the choice to bring social media into your home, your family and your life. Don't roll your eyes and shake your head at someone's post that isn't positive enough for you. Have grace, compassion and empathy because that's what you would want if the tables were turned, right? I agree not everything has to be posted for the world to see but sometimes people don't know where else to turn. Maybe, just maybe this person posting is reaching out for help. Disparaging people for having a feeling you don't understand is part of our problem!
I have a few ideas on what we could do better as parents to help this bullying epidemic and I hope you will hear me out:
1. Follow your child on social media until you are no longer paying their phone bill. You don't want to tweet? Don't tweet but get on daily or weekly and check up on your kid. Watch their retweets and their favorites. Implied bullying is REAL!!! A kid or teen doesn't have to be @ to know when something is about them. PUT A STOP TO SOCIAL MEDIA BULLYING BY GETTING INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILD'S SOCIAL MEDIA!! I am appalled by the stuff I read daily. If you see something that needs attention, find a way to get it to the right person. This has to stop!
2. Don't be that NOT-MY-KID type of parent. Yes, your kid!! They ALL do it!! And if they aren't doing it now, they have in the past or they will in the future if you don't stop it. No kid is perfect. Not mine, not yours, not hers, not his. Your kid isn't going to come home and tell you they were bullying or excluding someone...they don't tattle on themselves.
3. Have and teach compassion! We all are sinners, we all make mistakes, we all hurt our friends but no one deserves to be bullied or made to feel they aren't a deserving human being. Teach your kids to forgive and teach them how to ask for forgiveness. Have grace for those who are struggling. Teach your child to do the right thing for their peers even if it isn't the most popular choice.
4. Be your child's champion!! If you know in your heart of hearts your child is in a bad place, go talk to the principal, the counselor, their coach. Don't be afraid of what judgmental people say if you are advocating for your child. Those people who judge you for doing everything in your power to make sure your child is in a healthy environment are not your friends and THEY are apart of the problem.
Let's band together to make sure not another child feels left behind in this already so crazy world we live in. We have to have grace and compassion for all children. Accept them for the person they are...the good, the bad and the ugly. They need us to be their crusaders! They need us to love on them despite all of their flaws. Bullying of any type has to stop and it stops at home. BE THE CHANGE!!
Here's a bunch of pretty people laughing and smiling because we all need more of that!! <3 (I ran out of slots...didn't mean to leave a single soul out...I am blessed with the best, happiest clients ever.)