Sunday, September 25, 2016

Back to School Blues: Bullies

Bullies come from the same places as their targets; broken or stable homes, supportive or dysfunctional families,  good or bad neighborhoods, wealth or poverty. Bullying, nonetheless, usually stems from the home environment. Many bully their parents by refusing to eat and do their chores. They also bully parents with silent treatments and tantrums; a meltdown in the center of Target or Starbucks can be quite embarrassing. These kids also bully child family members and their own friends, by ignoring and excluding them; as well as taking and keeping things from them. Verbal and physical abuse are also tactics of persuasion, and or retaliation. It's very common in families to have an offset unspoken hierchary, that suggest being on the side of that "strong willed" kid is the best way to ensure a happy get-together. The bully's empowerment is fueled by the adults, who regularly give in to them. So, this kid has all the cool gadgets and toys, as well as the admiration and or the fear fed submissiveness of other children. All things, including meals, revolve around what this kid bully will or will not do.

This article is bypassing the underprivileged kids, bullying from an physical deficit. Also bypassed, are those being abused and or neglected. Of course there is empathy for those children, however the focus here is mean kids.

Speaking generally and from an the old school perspective as much as I can, having had computers in my classrooms, the rearing of children today is by way of commercials, sitcoms and reality shows; rude ungrateful kids setting the example of acceptable behavior. Reality shows are teaching adults and children, that in every situation, worship or be worshipped; and bullying is one way to be worshipped.

Today, instead of children functioning as part of the family pride, like the accomplishment of a new car or house, they are treated like show dogs. An expensive breed (such as the kids overindulged with hoover boards and the like) that does ribbon worthy tricks, but pee on your good friend's or boss's leg. One thing a child has in common with pets are behaviors. Many media driven parents boast and fake embarrassment, about their child having an obstinate personality. The refusal, tendency or mannerism is actually an assertive behavior. Similar to the unchecked high priced dog, peeing in and on inappropriate places.

Personalities are more so set in the parent. For example, a two year old doesn't necessarily have a set personality, they have behaviors. Those which left unguided can develop into a personality.  Micah may become the bully, if his behavior of tormenting the kid next door isn't properly checked. Emily might become the bully, if she isn't appropriately reprimanded for constantly snatching her younger cousin's toys and snacks. Sure some nuances are just kid stuff, while others need to be worked out of the child.

The bully, humanitarian, warrior, snob, coward, thief, show-off, the envious and so on are all exposed during the life phases of both direct and in-direct child rearing.
Responsibilities and possessions, attached to the ego like money, children reveal the true nature of their parents. To same affect as an individuals wealth, a child's performance and social status, can attribute to their parent's character. Some are living vicariously through their children.  The parents of a bully can have a bewitched pride, seeing their child as strong; thereby a leader. Yes, these parents may view their child as occasionally overzealous, but they also hide behind the old adage, "only the strong survive."

There are also the bullies who pinch and kick under desk and tabletops, anonymously spread rumors and share intimate photos and other objects. They terrorize behind a pristine demeanor, playing the ideal child in front of adults. Many of their parents can't, or won't fathom anything beyond that image.

So, how do other parents prepare and protect their children from bullies? Physically, it's a legal matter. Schoolyard and lunchroom scuffles don't lead to surgery, unless there's an accidental slip. It's not kid stuff when there's intentional trauma beyond the scope of the school nurse; that's criminal stuff. Kids should also be taught there is no shame in reporting theft, vandalism and destruction of property. Most gadgets bought for children today are costly, even on Black Friday. Thus, theft of your kid's iPad is a significant debit from your account.

The emotional side of dealing with bullies, is a reality check!  Sending your kid off  with the expectation of being liked by everyone, can attribute to them being more emotionally susceptible to bullies.  So, in this reality show saturated world, let's keep it real with our kids; we should give respect where it's due, but understand that no one likes everyone. It's not a good or bad thing. Most of us have our crew, those we tolerate and those we avoid. Boost your kid's confidence by letting them know, someone disliking them is not always their problem. Teach them to choose not only their friends, yet also who's opinion should concern them. Teach them making friends in the interim of school is great, but may not happen every year.

Helping kids deal with bullies involves assuming a mentorship role in their life, as well being their confidant. Talk to them and make sure they talk to you, and that you are both listening.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Book Review

Mr. McCall's raw autobiography challenges the popular idea of a good guy. Brutally honest, it humbles you into not just understanding, yet relating to how the good do bad things. This isn't a story about stealing from the rich to give to the poor, or about a just man forced to break the law to support his family. Mr. McCall delivers us into the disappointed eyes of a child, who is comprehending, perhaps too soon, racial disparities. Those that drastically conflict with his "mind your manners" upbringing. We are then taken along on his journey, in coping with both the world's and his self inflicted oppression and adversities.

Eyes over Ears:  I suggest reading versus listening to this one.
Get it at

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What And Who Matters Begins At Home

Self validation is both shield and weapon. We all need to know who we are before stepping out into the world. Black life must matter first and most at home. This is everyday  awareness, in school, at work, at a party, out exercising, running errands, even out mowing our own lawns.  Too many are defined by the media and those various and mostly miscellaneous people who cycle in and out of our lives. To such a degradation, that self awareness in people of color is too much of a campaign, instead of diligently practiced way of life.  How do I fit, as myself, in this world? How do I counter the subtle and blatant unprovoked and unjust attacks, against my person? How do I survive not just the sharpshooters, but also the headhunters? Those who scalp my culture and wear it as their own. How do I deal with those of us who are brainwashed and desensitized?

Survival is in education, that starts at home. It's in politics, money and unity. Indeed, pride in people of color will continue to be challenged. Black pride is often targeted, intentionally classified as an outdated initiative, as reverse racism, as militant, and hostile. Though with the armor and shield of self validation we will be prepared, to live well above and beyond such pigeonholing.

People validate your people; your children and other family members, including significant others. Validate your friends.

We belong here.