Ok – I try not to blog on negative things (too often); and there is a lot of Facebook that I ignore (in fact, most chain posts I ignore); but I really had to comment on the whole “cyber bullying” and the “bullying” conversations that have been very prevalent over the last couple weeks.
Let me start by saying that when I was 10 years old we moved to a new school system and a new town. First, I was the new kid at an age that is very sensitive to cliques, second I was a nerd (very smart, but a big dork, horrible sense of humor – that I still have to this day and LOVE!), third, we were pretty poor, so my clothes were never stylish, were often worn or second-hand, and if they were ruined (like a pair of shoes I tried to dry in the dryer once) – I had to wear them anyway.
So I was teased, I was bullied, I was made fun of – I was miserable. I had no friends. I was bored to death at the monotony and foolishness of the public school system. I was held back, and rarely encouraged. I was always in trouble due to my boredom and lack of coping mechanisms. I came home every day and ate handfuls of devil dogs and Twinkies and tons of other junk that we got from a friend that drove a truck for Little Debbie (once the junk was past the sell-by date, they would just give it away).
So, on top of everything else; i got fat, fast! Once I was fat, there was even more to torment me about. My blubber, my girl boobs. My lack of skill in sports, on top of that, my asthma meant I didn’t have a chance to ever be considered “cool enough to hang out with”. It didn’t get any better either – I wasn’t even invited to a graduation party my eighth grade year. It was a rainy, dreary afternoon, and I came home and cried – because I had no friends. I hated school, I was miserable and depressed.
Listen, bullying is not new, it has been around since the world began to turn. The popular or strong pick on the weak or meek. You know what I did? The same thing my father did when he was bullied growing up. I changed my life in my decisions and in my actions; I worked to change everything about my life that I possibly had control over. I got a full time job at 14 to help buy my own clothes, I started lifting and lost almost 50 pounds, I found a hobby that would interest me despite having no friends; and in the rare instances where the bullying just would not stop: I took care of the problem myself. You see – I am no stranger to bullying.
There are two types of people in this world: the people that feel sorry for themselves and do nothing about it, and the people that get up and work to change their circumstances or their own disposition.
Now, I completely understand the whole conversation about the immature reasoning skills of these young children, and how they are making tragic choices, and in some cases there may also be a clinical side of the issue as well; and trust me, I have a son who has been miserable since the day he was born, and I worry a lot about him, and we work very hard to make sure he is receiving the help and attention and foundation that he needs, and hope by the grace of God, that he will always temper his choices based on the self-worth we have instilled in him.
But why all of a sudden do we find so many more young people taking their own lives, Why? Has bullying become worse now than it was in the past? Absolutely not! So what has changed?
Let’s look at the foundation that builds maturity in our children: their home. The family is being destroyed from the outside in, and the inside out.
In the family, the divorce rate that continues to rise, the prevalence and increase of pornography, which destroys the bond between husband and wife. We have families coming apart at the seams all around the country. Husbands and wives that are so worried and so pressed on all sides for financial needs that both parents are leaving the home, stressing and struggling to continue to uphold the wealth that they have amassed or want to keep or want to gain. Children are growing up without the foundation of a healthy family, and the pressures, as they have always been, are still there.
If the pressures inside were not bad enough, the family unit is continuously barraged from the outside as well, as things like homosexuality and the challenge of marriage as it was intended from the beginning of humanity are gaining wide spread acceptance and being forced into the minds and hearts of our country. The immorality and unfaithfulness, the anger and hatred continues to rise in the home as it is pulled apart.
So what are we to do? Instead of trying to pass laws against bullying (I mean, how stupid can we get!), instead of trying to build martyrs of these children that have made very poor decisions, how about we, as parents become more in tune with our own children, and more in tune with our own families. The children that are bullying, likely have deep rooted problems that come from the breakdown in their own home. The children that are being bullied, need to have a strong family foundation for their growth, coping skills and maturation. So let’s look to make our homes a place where our children can feel comfortable in their growth and finding themselves.
Outside of the home, why don’t we vote for government officials, and laws that will support real family values and help cultivate the integrity and foundation that children need inside of their families, rather than tear them down and destroy them.
For the children, let’s stop trying to define them by their faults: If they are liars, or perpetually stealing, or being spiteful, hateful, or desiring (or struggling with) homosexuality, if they think they are fat, or “ugly”, or “slow”, if the family unit is poor; these things provide all the more reason for children to receive our love and support as they work through them in their childhood.
Please understand too, that parents should not just be about “letting their kids be who they want to be” – It is possible to direct and steer our children towards healthy lifestyles and choices, but still love them and value them in their humanity.
In the end, If these children have a solid family foundation, if they know they are loved and appreciated and valued by their family, if they receive careful and dedicated medical help when it is required, no matter their lot in life, no matter how miserable they are in the way they are treated, they will feel comfortable in talking with their parents, and seeking parental advice; and parents who are active and engaged can be there for them to help them work through the hardships of their growing years.
I will not boast or brag about how my situation growing up has positively shaped where I am today, but I can tell you that the bullying that I had to endure made me tougher, more resilient and prepared me for the life that was out there beyond the walls of the school. I can’t say that I would love to relive it over again, but at this point, I can say: “Thanks for making me who I am today!” and to my parents, who instilled in my the understanding of the value of human life (including my own), “Thanks”, and to the Lighthouse that stands on the hill that has continued to guide me every step of the way – Maranatha!