Mean Girls, Mean Boys, Mean People.


This week's blog will be a bit different.

In the past two weeks or so, I have been appalled at the number of horrific stories both on TV and in print about bullying. Bullying to the max, bullying to the point of death. Death to a number of young people who have decided that rather than continue on with their very young lives, that the only way to feel better is to commit suicide! Wow! How very sad. What caused them to feel this way? How did they get to that point?

My research began when I heard a story on TV about a high school in Ohio that has had an alarming increase in the number of teen suicides caused by bullying of young people who were deemed different, ridiculed and ostracized by their classmates. Two of the young people were gay, one was handicapped and one was new to the school and the country, from Europe. After that, I read and heard the horrific story of a young gay man at Rutgers University who's roommate webcammed him while he was with another man and published the photos all over the school and the internet. The young man jumped off the George Washington Bridge, so traumatized was he by the insensitivity of what his roommate chose to do. Lastly, my friend Erika, gave me an article that was in the October 10th New York Times titled "The Playground Gets Even Tougher." The article is a commentary on how young children are beginning to experience bullying and taunting and meanness that usually wouldn't begin until adolescence.

O.K. goes. I am appalled at this information! I realize that to a certain percent, growing up involves the often painful process of navigating childhood and adolescence. Kids can be quite mean. I know that. I also know that parents can not be with their children 24/7. I know that as children grow they will have to meet and solve the challenges that present. I know that adults are not always able to know what their children are up to. I know that all children have a mind of their own, BUT I would argue that one of the main things children absorb as they are growing up, is the behavior they see exhibited around them from the people who are most influential in their

It is truly challenging in this day and age I would think to raise your children. From all the things kids are exposed to on TV, reality shows, prime time soap operas, even Hannah Montana, magazines, newspaper photos, and the internet it has to be hard to keep a handle on what kids are seeing and what they are able to have access to. However, kids still are kids and the biggest influence in their lives, no matter what, is the parents that raise them. Moms and Dads, you are responsible for the behavior your kids demonstrate. You are their primary source of information on how the world works and what should be done in it.

In the article titled "The Playground Gets Even Tougher" a number of the people from psychologists, to teachers, to associate principals point to the behavior of the parents of the kids who are the "mean girls" the kids who are treating others poorly. It seems that the kids doing the bullying, the ostracizing, the terrorizing of others learn this behavior from the people who are suppose to be teaching them the proper rules of social conduct. Their parents. The article talks about mothers who are proud that their daughters are the popular ones and are complicit in the process of demeaning and mistreating girls who are not part of the " in group". Why is this? Is it possible that these parents didn't get what they needed when they were growing up? Did they learn to feel better about themselves by putting others down? Is that what they learned? I bet it is.

Being a good parent is hard. It is the hardest job on earth to do well. I know that all good parents love their children and want them to do well in life, to be able to have friends, succeed in school and become competent adults. To that end, come on parents!! Do the right thing. Give your kids the right examples of how to live and how to behave. Show them how to be kind, how to be accepting of others. Demonstrate tolerance, demonstrate acceptance. Be the kind of parent that is a good role model. Help your kids learn how to become kind, loving people through your words and actions every day. Give your children what they need so that they will be able to resist becoming part of this growing problem of bullying and meanness. I think that if we as parents take the time to care for each of our children well, fill up their buckets with good stuff, like love and time, they won't need to undermine or bully others. Even take the time to do the unfun stuff of correcting bad behavior. Joan Cusack had a funny line in a movie I like called, "Raising Helen", where she disciplines a young teenager, yet tells him he isn't a bad person he is just behaving very badly! Do all that, even the hard stuff, and kids will be confident enough in themselves to accept different, to be tolerant, to befriend others because they know who they are. They will have had parents who have taught them well. Parents who have given them the ability to love themselves enough so that they don't need to undermine others in order to feel good.

Doing the right thing is often not the easy thing...but come on Good Parents!!! Hang in there, do the right thing, teach your children well. Before you know it they will be all grown up! Hang in there, so when they are, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Who knows...if you do that, you might even have the pleasure of your grown up children asking you how you did it! Now, that's worth it!

Until next time,