Posts Tagged ‘bullying’

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Personal Culture Wars

October 8, 2014

Lil’ man just started kindergarten. He spent almost three years going to a Montessori preschool. He loved it. We loved it. The school and staff were great. He made friends. We made friends with parents. Most days he loved going to school. We recently moved and were unable to find a Montessori school around us. The closest one was more than forty-five minutes away. The local public school has a good rating. Parents seem to love it. So with great hesitation and reluctance we chose to enroll him in the public kindergarten. And his teacher is great. He still seems to enjoy school. He definitely seems to be learning a lot. The teacher is pretty good about keeping parents informed about what is going on at school. But something has changed. Something I don’t know how to deal with. Something that probably has more to do with where we have moved than the public school environment. Kids are making comments that lil’ man takes to heart and now we are faced with fighting against a tidal wave of opinions we are not okay with.

When we paint our nails lil’ man likes to get his painted. Almost always orange, his favorite color. He had his nails painted at school and another kid told him only girls paint their nails. We’ve faced this before. In our old state. And he responded “my uncle paints his nails, and he’s not a girl”. Which is true, and was enough. This time his teacher told us his response was “I’m not a girl, I’m a grown-ass man” (which is something we tell him regularly). But now he won’t paint his nails because he doesn’t want the kids to think he’s a girl.

On the walk to school one day he saw a little girl riding a blue bike. He asked me why the girl was riding a boy colored bike. I was floored. We have always taught there are no such things as boy colors and girl colors. We talked about it again. Where is he learning this?

This morning I pulled out a shirt he hasn’t worn for several weeks. A shirt he had picked out and loved over the summer. He didn’t want to wear it. When I asked him why he answered “what if the kids don’t want to be my friend anymore?” We talked with him and ended saying “If someone doesn’t want to be your friend because of the shirt you are wearing then you don’t want to be friends with them”.

It’s frustrating. It’s heart-breaking. He is such a sensitive soul. He takes everything personally. He is legitimately hurt by things that most people shrug off. How can we help him stay true to himself amidst such things? How do I teach him to let these things roll off his shoulders without making him callous and causing him to lose such a vital part of who he is? How do I help ensure he doesn’t turn into one of those kids causing hurt to another? I feel so inadequate, so limited, so unable to help him be himself in a world that is determined to make him think a certain way and act a certain way. I don’t want to see his spirit damaged by others and at the same time I can’t bear the thought of seeing his spirit damaged by compromising who he is to fit in with the world.

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I am part of the problem

October 21, 2010

I wore purple yesterday, did you? It was a great idea and hopefully it gave hope to many, but simply wearing purple is not enough- it wasn’t enough yesterday and it isn’t enough for today and tomorrow and all the days to come. Neither is tweeting about love or against bullying. These are all great things, all beneficial and steps in the right direction, but none of these things alone or combined is enough. We must change the way we think about others in order to overcome bullying and hate.

I am part of the problem. I hate having to admit it, but I am. Although I rarely if ever act on my thoughts and feelings I still look at non-Christians as missing something (which they are in some ways but not others). They don’t have a relationship with Jesus, but that doesn’t make them any less of a person that I am, but I think somewhere along the way I got this mind set that they are. Now, people who are my friends and are not Christians I don’t have the same problem with. I see them as people just like I see my Christian friends as people, but unless I get to know someone I look at them and base a lot of how I see them on whether they are or are not a Christian.

I don’t like this and I’m working to change it. But when I think about it I can’t help but see how this mentality applied to any particular group of people (LGBT, religious groups, handicaps, race, etc) helps to contribute to bullying. If we view people as being less than or as missing something that we have then we automatically view them as lower than us and that means that we have less problem treating them poorly. We are far more likely to bully someone if we think of them in a less than whole way.

The end to bullying, and the end to hate,  can only fully come when we change the entire way we view others. When I encounter someone different than myself I need to ensure that I do not pre-judge them, I need to make sure that I don’t diminish them as a person for any reason, and when I feel threatened by their difference I need to recognize this as a fault in me and not a flaw with them. Only when the “other” becomes equal to or greater than myself can I truly love them. And love is what conquers hate, and bullying is born of fear and hate.

I’m still working on it, are you?