One of the great parts about being Canadian is the ability to have an opinion, and to be able to have an opinion on someone else’s opinion without fear of repercussion (with in reason of course).  That being said, here are a few thoughts that have been swirling around in my head.

One of the hot media topics the past few years has really gotten under my skin and I have been relatively silent on the issue until now, from celebrity endorsements to government using the topic in an attempt to sway voters I truly believe that many are missing the point, and what I believe is at the heart of the issue.   I am of course talking about the bullying debate.

There seems to me to be one thing that is rarely if ever brought up in the discussion, and that is” where are the parents in all of this?”, and I am not only talking about the “bully” parents but the parents of the “victims”.  What are they teaching their children?  Has a generation of entitlement caused a generation of children with no backbone who are unable to stand up for themselves?

On the other side, if your child is causing problems for other kids lets be honest you know (and if you don’t it’s high time you got more involved in their life), so what is wrong with the parenting skills of people who allow children (and I emphasize the word for a reason) to do as they wish without fear of discipline?  Where is the display of authority over the little bundle you have been entrusted to groom into adulthood?  Where is the “love”?  We are Canadian after all and being nice is in our blood, and if it’s not it’s time for a transfusion.

Not trying to pick on any one particular case I will do my best to speak in generalities and try to not sound like that old guy who just doesn’t understand.  In my day (not all that long ago) bullying existed and was viewed as a part of growing up, kids trying to find their place in society and learning how to interact with others their own age.  Now I do understand that the internet has brought a new element to the debate with the invention of “cyber thugs” but any situation that arises can be brought back to one place, the parents.  There are as with anything some exceptions (ie mental illness and such), but generally speaking parents need to take responsibility for what they are teaching (and in many cases not teaching) their children.

As a parent I guess I would be considered a relative novice with only one son (a three year old), but I do understand that the foundation that as a parent I lay now will follow him through to adulthood.

Something as simple as telling him to clean up his toys and how I react to him “testing his limits” will determine how he interacts in the future with handling responsibilities and understanding that there are consequences for his actions.  If he refuses, and I do nothing and allow him to keep playing what has he learned?  Far from nothing, in his mind he has figured out that there is little if any consequences when he does as he pleases, regardless of what he has been taught is right and wrong.  If I make my point that cleaning up his toys is necessary in an escalating fashion (starting with a stern voice and gradually working up to a smack on the hand if necessary) until he handles what is now his responsibility, what has he learned then?  That for everything he does there is a reaction either positive or negative, I always make the point when explaining why he is in trouble that if he had have listened in the first place he would not be in trouble (letting his know that there can be a positive outcome next time).

How can this example translate into the bullying debate? Glad you asked.  Say when he is a teenager a situation arises where his girlfriend asks for the ever so popular, inappropriate picture.  What will he do? As a hormone ravaged young man the outcome may be unpredictable but with his understanding of consequences one can hope and be confident that he will make the right choice.  With not taking the picture he can save himself the future embarrassment of the internet sharing of the image after the inevitable teenage drama filled breakup and avoid the possibility of the “bullying” that would accompany the situation.

What about helping to prevent your child from becoming the aggressor? I believe this is more common sence than anything and I can’t believe I am about to repeat something my parents told me 30+ years ago but here it goes, treat others as you would want them to treat you.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it, the problem is that it seems to be lost on a generation and that respect for others appears to be at an all time low.  If we can only teach our children to look at things from another’s perspective then the next generation of Canadians will have a firm grasp on how to treat others.

The first time I was informed my son hit another kid at day care I had to think about how to approach this new situation.  My first instinct was to get upset and tell him he was in trouble but I am glad I didn’t go with my first thought.  What I ended up doing was first asking him why he did it?  Now communication with a three year old can be a little challenging sometimes but I wanted to make sure that he hadn’t just been defending himself, which wouldn’t have made it okay but would have led to a different follow up and talk of how to resolve problems and such.  When he didn’t say he hit me first or anything to that effect I led into my next question, how would you like it if (insert other childs name here) hit you?  The look on his face was priceless, he got it, whether he remembers or not is another story but at that moment he understood why he shouldn’t be hitting other kids.

Now I don’t proclaim to be a parenting guru, in actuality I’m a first time parent who wants to raise the best son possible, but I think in regards to the bullying thing, a proactive approach to teaching a child right from wrong will go a long way to helping prevent both bullies and victims.  But hey its just my opinion.


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