Wednesday, October 14, 2015
I Want To Know
I've been meaning to get to this entry. I've been writing it for like two months now. Knowing it's probably going to be somewhat controversial or ruffle some feathers though, I want to make sure I'm articulating it all the way I want it to come out. Since school is now in full swing and I'm reading on my message boards how awful kids are to each other, I think it's important to make sure I get this done.
A friend of mine posted this article from the Scary Mommy site on Facebook a few weeks ago. It's called - "If my kid is being an asshole, I want you to tell me". I don't know this site, because I generally don't read parenting blogs or articles anymore, which I've mentioned. Just my personal preference. I'm not interested in reading about other people's "sage" parenting advice or whatever. But I read this and my thoughts were- "Hell, YEAH." If my kid is being an asshole- I WANT TO KNOW. That's not just posturing. Anyone that knows me or my kid, knows I'm fine with hearing the truth about my kid. And then actually applying the appropriate discipline or teaching.
My kid is NOT perfect. Not even close. But he's NICE. He's a NICE KID. Or, at least, that's what I'm told. There have been instances, seldom, but instances, nonetheless, that I've been told occurred, that I wasn't happy about. Things that I felt warranted a further discussion. Nothing mean though. Nothing that ever made me embarrassed that it was my kid- having to do with hurting someone's feelings. And I would DIE if another parent or the school ever told me he was rude, disrespectful, mean, or the bully. I'd be furious, sad, angry and bewildered.
I've been working on this stuff with him since he started school at two years old. We would discuss being a good friend, what that means and entails, standing up for the underdog, not being a sheep, etc. He KNOWS. I'm confident he knows the right way to act. Will he always act the way I want or expect him to? No. But will he take it far enough to be considered an asshole? To be a bully? To have other parents hear his name and roll their eyes? Hell to the NO. That's what I believe right now, when he's six and a half and I have a lot of control over his behavior. But so help him if he doesn't act right, I would expect someone to tell me.
There are kids I can think of, just off the top of my head, that when their names are said, other parents just sort of look at each other and nod in understanding. Not in a good way. I always wonder if the mothers of these children know this happens and if they care. I'm not one to care about appearances, or keeping up with the Joneses or Kardashians or whoever, but I do care that other parents don't think, "OH CRAP!" when they find out my son is on their kid's team or in their class. If more parents cared more about the impression their kid makes on other kids and adults, than the impression other kids and adults are making on their kid, we'd be in business. Business of nicer kids.
I didn't repost the Scary Mommy article because I decided I wanted to write this entry. I wanted to repost it when I saw it, but I also wanted to do it during the day when it would get the most eyeballs. Why? Well, I wanted to see who and how many would agree and say "Me too!". I think initially, anyone would agree, because most of it seems like common sense. However, when it really comes down to it, knowing who I know, I definitely know a few that they don't want to know. They might hit like on the article or say they would want to know, but I really don't think they would.
B doesn't really have much of an opportunity to be with E and kids he knows. He's not at the park with them or at activities. There was an instance where B happened to be around E and a kid we've known for a few years now. Long story short, B was playing with the two boys and the other boy was so extremely rude and disrespectful to B that B was too taken aback to even really respond. Beyond telling the kid that he and E weren't going to play with him any longer that day, he didn't know what he was supposed to do. B came back to me so irritated, bewildered, and questioned what would've been the appropriate action to have taken.
I wasn't surprised this happened. In the least. I know this kid, I'm fully versed in how he treats people, and this was not a first time offense by any stretch of the imagination. I'm also confident that his parents would say, "Not my kid!" or give some excuse of tired, hungry, etc. I would bet my life they would not own this behavior as typical of their child nor would they do anything about it. He has an older sibling who I have have heard be just as rude and disrespectful to others with no consequence given by the parents. Just excuses given. They aren't bad people, nor are they mean people. They just have a very idealized view of their children. They aren't the first and they aren't the last.
I read the article maybe a few days to a week after that incident. Then I was told of another instance where a little girl was bullying others. When the mother was told, her answer was shock and surprise, saying that her daughter is the nicest. My jaw dropped. This wasn't an isolated instance. Not by a long shot. I, myself, have HEARD this child basically tell her mother off in front of other kids and parents, in public places. I've heard her be nasty and rude. So how is her mother truly shocked when her daughter gets in trouble somewhere for this kind of behavior? It's true shock too- it's not just fronting. How does this happen?
If you're worried either of the children in my examples might be yours, it's time to start discussing appropriate behaviors with your kid(s). You HAVE to have these conversations. Especially if you suspect your kid could have the propensity towards being the "mean" kid. Even if you're not sure what kind of kid you have. You still have to talk about being a friend, being caring, being the one to stick up for others when they can't stick up for themselves. Be the one to talk to or sit with the kid who seems to be alone a lot. None of this is just common sense to all kids. It isn't just important that they read or write. They can be the smartest in the room but if they're also the meanest, you're not doing your job.
Those kids who have parents who don't stress kindness & respect turn into adults who don't practice them either. There are two kinds of adults- the ones you're happy when good comes to them & sad when bad comes to them- because they're good people. Then the other- the ones you're not particularly sad for when bad comes their way and you're not happy for them when good comes their way. Because they were always the asshole. From child to the present. You REMEMBER those people from elementary school. I heard a scandalous story recently about a guy I knew as a kid. My first reaction was- "Yeah, he was always a dick. Even as a little kid." Well, that's not the adult I plan to raise.
I'd tell you straight out if you're wondering if you're housing the asshole, but like I said- I'm pretty sure not all parents want to know. So unless you're really concerned with changing this kind of behavior, don't ask.
Yes, personality is both nature and nurture. All kids are going to say things, at some point, that are nasty or hurtful. It's part of growing up. Learning how to treat people. It's not even always "bullying". I think bullying is a systematic thing. Like when it doesn't let up. It's not just a one time lash out. Everyone has a lash-out. Lash-out or bullying, whichever it is, I don't wholly fault them for doing it. We all have to make mistakes and gain lessons from them. However, I do also fault the adults in their life for not redirecting them. For not teaching them a better way to communicate and/or to get what they need and want. For wearing blinders to the faults of their child(ren). For not being able to be objective enough to notice that your child treats peers and elders with a level of disrespect that warrants further investigation or deep discussion by teachers, other school officials, or other parents.
We can be nasty, rude and disrespectful as adults. It's not like it's something specific to age. We all make mistakes, get in bad moods, say things we mean to be funny but end up hurting feelings. The difference is, as adults, we know the difference between right and wrong. Whether we act on the right is another story. We do know what is hurtful and crossing a line. We can have a thoughtful conversation after and resolve it. Through age and life experience we can have the confidence to tell someone they've hurt our feelings or be able to let what someone else says just roll off our back. Kids don't have all that. The kids who aren't treated nicely often suffer silently because they're afraid of making it worse in some way. The ones that bully or are just nasty keep doing it because they can. It gives them a feeling of power. Well, it's our job to teach them that they can BE powerful human beings, but not in that way. THAT way is completely unacceptable.
Scary Mommy article: http://www.scarymommy.com/if-my-kid-is-being-an-asshole-tell-me/