We would like to think that children have angelic impulses and left to their own devices our kids would be helpful and kind to one another. In reality, however, children are egocentric, self absorbed little creatures. Bullying has always existed, but why is it worse now than ever? Simply put, kids are being left to follow their own undeveloped impulses. (Remember Lord of the Flies?) They don’t think about the pain another might feel. They must be taught that another children will feel pain with hit or when talked unkindly to. 21st century children are receiving too many liberties at home and at school. Just yesterday a mom of five children said to me, “Parenting isn’t a democracy and it isn’t always fun. I wanted to raise five adults, not five children, so you have to know when to put your foot down.”
Down through time parents have always been responsible and continue to be responsible for disciplining their children. It seems that in many parenting circles disciplining children has fallen out of favor. When parents fail to discipline their children they aren’t leaders of their families. They are pandering to very small and unknowledgeable human beings that have very little, if any practical real life experience in how to treat others.
When we partner this family phenomenon with the fact that our kids are being exposed in the media and in video games to unnecessary violence we have a wicked social concoction. When using a video game a child does not receive any real life feedback as to the damage and hurt that is caused others. Instead, the characters in the game may laugh, smile and chuckle when someone is ridiculed or punched in the face.
Now is the violence we see in schools the fault of our technological overload? Absolutely not. No matter what the circumstances of society, parents are responsible for raising their children up to be ethical, moral human beings, but media and technology are heavy influences that in many cases are steering our kids in the wrong direction. They are especially strong influences when we have a generation of parents who are afraid to be the bad guy and say “No, you are not watching that movie” or “No there will be no video games in this house. I’m not concerned what happens in Bobby’s house, this is our house and you don’t need to play video games.” Each generation has faced their own set of parental challenges and with each generation there is a new scape goat for the problems that descend on families. Standing up to our children seems to be ours is our challenge and the scape goats are the media and gun laws. We could talk about controlling these entities all day, but if we can’t control our own kids, then no law or restriction will ever help us.
“Kids are brain damaged.”
If you haven’t watched Bill Cosby’s stand up routine titled “Bill Cosby Himself” or if it’s been awhile since you last saw it, it’s time to watch it again. Cosby has children pretty well figured out. As he puts it kids are “brain damaged”. Though this may seem horribly blunt and politically incorrect to say these days, for me it still rings true. Leave a kid alone and he will run in front of traffic with a mouth full of ice cream with a smile on their face, as Cosby explains. Kids don’t know right from wrong and it’s our job as parents to teach them.
Fifty years ago when there was one town bully that roughed up people for their lunch money, everyone had a pretty clear understanding that this poor kid simply didn’t have enough love and direction at home. Things haven’t changed much since then. Parenting isn’t a popular or easy job. It can be downright tough and sometimes my kids don’t always like me, but they always love me because they know that my discipline comes from a place of fairness and love. They know it is my job to raise them up with structure and rules and to teach them responsibility. That includes the responsibility they have to their peers to be polite, kind and helpful to one another.
Bullying is a symptom of the lack of responsibility we have taken in raising our kids, turning our back on an unpopular style of parenting, the kind where parents lead and kids follow. Instead we want to give birth to our best friend. This is not how parenting works and until we get back to some good old fashioned rule making, time out taking, putting the foot down sort of parenting, I’m afraid we’ll continue to see kids bullying each other to the brink of despair.