This past Thursday I had the privilege of attending an information meeting at our church with a social worker who has worked in the schools for the past 9 or so years. The topics of the meeting were 1. What to do when your child is struggling with school and 2. Bullying. I learned quite a lot about how to support my school district and how NOT to react when my teacher tells me something I don't want to hear (like my child hit another student!). I think for the most part I'm pretty level headed, so I don't anticipate this being a problem, but it's always good to hear.
There were a few comments that particularly stood out to me. The first is that our job as parents (and especially moms) is to teach and guide our children. But we aren't responsible for their choices. And sometimes, our children don't make great choices even with great parenting. Why? Because it's all part of growing up. We all make bad decisions from time to time and we learn from those decisions. And some decisions yield real consequences. We as moms take these things very personally and tend to blame ourselves or feel an enormous amount of guilt. I'll be honest, I struggled with this when we first came home 2 years ago. I would get embarrassed when Eli would throw tantrums at the store, instead of recognizing this as a time to set boundaries.
We had a great discussion about bullying. One woman told a story about a victim being taunted by a bully. So the victim put a little mustard on the bully's shirt. The bully lunged at the victim and started choking him. Both boys got suspended. One mom said "That's not really fair that the victim got punished too." The social worker responded "Fairness isn't equality...it's getting what you need." Hmmm. She went on to say that schools can't condone violence so everyone involved has consequences based on actions they took. Victims need someone to tell that they feel safe with before things get out of hand. And chances are that bullies have multiple targets. Bystandards are the largest portion of the problem in our society. Often they stand around watching someone being bullied without stopping or reporting it. They don't feel like they have a safe place to go, or they don't feel like any action was taken when they did speak up. So I'm going to teach Eli now (and hopefully it'll sink in sometime in the future!) to stand up for the weak and befriend the friendless.
I'm also reading Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson. I've only read the first 4 chapters, but it is awesome. I'll give you a book review soon :)