Bullying is a huge hot topic right now. It's both new and old. Although it's been around forever, it's become fashionable lately to accuse anyone whom we don't like of bullying. It's natural (even the fish in my pond do it), but it's also sinful.
Bullying is defined as a stronger person using his power to intimidate or harass another. As parents we have three ways in which this behavior can affect our kids -- being the bully, being bullied by another, or accusing someone of bullying to manipulate the situation.
The first, my kid is bullying others, is hard for us as parents to admit. We never want to think our kids are capable of such things. We didn't raise them to be that way, right? But denial is the worst strategy. We must always be open to the possibility that our child might not be perfect. I know it's hard to be objective, but it's in the best interest of our child to consider this as a possibility. And bullying can take many forms, not just physical. Gossip is just as much a bullying behavior as yelling or fighting. Fortunately, just admitting it is half the battle. If my child actually is bullying another child, then my child is powerful. I can appreciate that and go about teaching him it's wrong to take advantage of others. Usually, that's not a difficult lesson.
The second scenario is my child is being bullied by another child. Again, it's best to pause and reflect on whether this is really true. That reflection should include an honest assessment of why he is chosen as the target. Some children are more naturally targeted than others for a variety of reasons beyond the scope of this brief writing. If he is truly being bullied and wants it to stop, then I must advise him to "give notice". As difficult as it is, he needs to say "stop" in no uncertain terms. This requires courage, so it may be hard to convince him to take this step. If he can do it alone, it will be a huge growing experience. If he can't do it alone, his teacher will be happy to be present for support. In that case talking to the teacher is the next step. Either way, he tells the offending bully to stop. If the bully continues, he should certainly report it to his teacher. And if it still continues, I want to hear about it immediately, preferably from the child. We always want to teach him to handle his own situations as much as possible.
The third situation is one that's on the increase. Children have learned that bullying is bad and will not be tolerated. Therefore it only makes sense that they can accuse others of bullying and manipulate them. In a sense this is somewhat a "reverse bullying". If I can use my persuasive powers to overcome your physical size, I've just become more powerful than the other person. As parents we need again to be very sensitive to whether our child is really being bullied or just using the expression to get our attention. Fortunately most parents are very aware of their children's tendencies and know whether these accusations are real.
As with all parenting, listening, knowing my child's personality, and being objective are keys to success. I'm happy to say that we usually don't have much of an issue with this at Epiphany, but we are human. It can and will be a problem. We just have to communicate, confront, and forgive.
In His Service,
Today I have the privilege of writing to you about an outside project that one of our faculty members has initiated. Our music and band teacher, Mr. Struckmann, has put together a plan to produce a digital album called Lutheran Gospel. I love this title in part because of the double entendre nature.
Of course Lutherans are all big on the Gospel, so that's the easy part of the double. We do not usually get into Gospel music though. That's the paradoxical part. Mr. Struckmann has been playing old Lutheran hymns with African American groups and congregations and has enjoyed the experience tremendously. His saxophone blends well with the flavor the music in these churches.
Now he is using Kickstarter to put some of that music onto a digital album available either electronically or on a DVD. He and some friends will deliver a preview in the form of a free concert. See the attached flier for information on the concert and the link below for more information.
If you have any questions, please ask him. I'm sure he will be more than happy to talk about it.
Blessings on your weekend,
I've received a lot of wonderful feedback on these weekly email newsletters, some would call them blogs. Sadly that all comes to an end this week, because this week it hits a little too close to home.
First my disclaimers -- no, I'm not thinking specifically of you as I write this. No, I don't have your face before me as I type these words. And this has nothing to do with anyone who was just late today. Yes, many others are just as guilty as you. Yes, I realize that traffic at Jackrabbit and West road is terrible. I come that way too. Each day I drive 40 miles round trip and the last mile takes the longest. I don't know why it's gotten worse. Life deals us problems, and we have to adapt.
Here are some observations I've made as I greet parents and students in the morning. It's the same people who are late frequently. These people drive on the same roads as those who are on time. Conclusion, the roads are sometimes, but not always, the problem. And yes, I know that light on our corner was blinking red last week. It added 15 minutes to my commute too. I'm not writing about the exception though. This is about what happens to some people every week (or every day).
People who arrive on time for school value arriving on time for school, just as people who arrive on time for a show value that show. They are willing to "risk" being early. Here is the nugget that punctual people understand and tardy people fail to understand. The biggest single factor is a willingness to arrive early. It's a willingness to give a little bit of their time to avoid being rude to others. It's okay to come to school at 7:45 or even a little earlier if necessary to ensure that you will be on time most of the time. For the most part, it's really that simple.
So the real question is how important coming early (on time) is to our children. How different is it when they come into their classroom at 7:50 versus 8:01? When they arrive before school has begun, they can put their possessions away in peace, not rushed. They can take a few minutes to visit with their friends before class begins. They can participate in the pledges and prayers with the rest of the school at 8:03. Although these may seem like small things, they contribute to a better overall experience for the student.
So please give this some thought. Change what needs to be changed to leave in time to come early (on time) and give your child a better morning, a better school experience. Learning to be punctual is a lifelong skill that begins when we are very young. It helps pave the road to success in human relationships. It shows others that we respect them enough to honor their time by coming on time.
Again, I apologize in advance to those of you who are offended by my bringing up this topic. I really just have the best in mind for your child.
Blessings on your week,
This is the fourth in the series of parenting pitfalls from Dr. Tim Elmore's list. I encourage you to go to his site and read more. I'm really just putting this in front of you as matter of convenience, and because I believe he is right on with his assessments.
The first three pitfalls were raving too much, allowing too little risk, and rescuing too quickly. This week I chose to write about letting guilt get in the way of doing the right thing. When it comes to the myriad of decisions parents must make, some are indeed confusing. But if we really think about most decisions, it's not that we don't know what to do, we just don't want to do it. We let our feelings get in the way of our reasoning.
Elmore says, "Your child does not have to love you every minute. Your kids will get over the disappointment, but they won't get over the effects of being spoiled." Take the time to think through the requests your children make. Is this something that will benefit them in the long run? If not, say no. Our children learn early in life to ask with "puppy dog eyes" or to insist. When we give in, we are teaching them to be manipulative whether we intend to do so or not. Remember, it does not matter what you intended; be smart about the reality of the consequence.
Teaching children they must accept "no" for an answer or wait for something they want is good for them. Giving in actually robs them of the opportunity to learn. So why do we do it? Simply put, we would rather have the short term smile of our children when they are nine years old than the long term appreciation when they are 30. If we considered each decision in terms of how it will affect our child when he is 30, we'd make far different decisions.
Believe it or not, my purpose here is not to make all parents feel guilty. After all, we all make mistakes. What I really want is for each of you to simply give each decision the thought is needs. Blessings on your high calling as a parent.
In His Service,