No one wants to judge another parent. Or a group of other parents, for that matter. No, the call to end judgment among parents has been loud and clear for quite some time now. You can lose days of your life reading posts and articles on this very topic, if you so choose.
All families are different. We all have our own challenges. We all face our own stressors.
True. True. And true, again.
So we won't judge.
But we do need to talk about failure.
Sadly, Rebecca Sedwick's story isn't all that new. Rebecca is simply another child who took her life when everyone around her failed her. She is yet another kid who wasn't given the help that she needed to embrace life. In an instant, her name was added to a growing list of children who gave up.
And yet, the public outcry felt small in comparison to other stories to hit the news that day. In fact, it seems as if some of the shock of tween and teen suicide in response to bullying has worn off. And when childhood suicide loses its shock value, it's time to talk about failure.
Every single parent involved in this tragic story failed Rebecca Sedwick. Fifteen students cyber bullied Rebecca for more than a year before she switched schools. That's 15 sets of parents who failed to monitor the online behavior of their children. Fifteen sets of parents who either buried their heads in the sand, looked the other way, or simply didn't care. Fifteen sets of parents who raised bullies.
You can blame the fast-paced evolution of smart phone technology, if it makes you feel better. You can blame Rebecca's mother for failing to keep up with her daughter's use of technology. Or, you can just go ahead and blame those other kids. What difference does is it make? Rebecca isn't coming back.
It's time to think long and hard about parenting.
It's time to raise better kids.
Bullying is a learned behavior. More often than not, it begins at home.
I've stood on the sidelines of U6 soccer games and listened as parents berated coaches, other parents, and even the little girls playing their 6-year-old hearts out. Bullying. I've cried just a little in response.
I've heard parents yell at children for being too shy, too timid, or too anxious at a party. Bullying. I've kept my anger in check in those moments. Because, you know, you shouldn't judge another parent.
I've read article after article referencing the fact that kids have it too easy, are praised too much, and are overindulged and spoiled. Borderline bullying. And then I've read the follow-up tips on ways to avoid spoiling your child. I've sighed in response, praised my kids, and more than likely bought them an ice cream cone for no good reason. Because childhood is supposed to be fun. And happy. Not full of misplaced anger and unreasonable expectations.
You don't need anti-spoiling tips to raise nice kids who don't bully. You don't need to hold in your praise and toughen them up.
You just need to be a parent.
You need to teach empathy.
You need to teach kindness.
You need to teach acceptance and compassion.
And you need to model all of those things. Every. Single. Day.
You need to be the person you want your child to become.
And when they mess up (which they will, because they are kids), you need to take responsibility and show them a better way.
It's not complicated. It's just parenting.
When parents fail, children suffer.
It takes a village to raise a village.
It's time to start putting our children first.