Anti-Bullying: Do you walk the talk?

Parents, even really great parents (you know the ones whose kids are always clean, coordinated and sporting matching socks) make mistakes. Some of us (okay, I mean…I) make more than our fair share of mistakes; those of us with children old enough to talkback never hear the end of our mistakes. Parents (even the ones who think they are pretty great already) spend a lot of time playing over our mistakes, analysing them, working out ways to correct them and taking steps to make sure we don’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. It is part of growing as a parent (because kids aren’t the only ones growing on this journey).

Ordinarily I prefer to try and ease burdens rather than add to the weight of them but October is Bully Awareness Month and it is time to check ourselves, correct ourselves and put an end to some mistakes we might not even be aware we are making.

Take fifteen minutes this week for a good long look in the mirror. Head out to a busy public park, go sit in a food court among the tweenagers and ‘young adults’ or sit outside the playroom door undetected and just listen. Listen and observe. Do you detect kindness, cooperation, and consideration for the feelings of others? Are there signs of defamation, exclusion, judgement, humiliation, or degradation? Everything you hear, the good and the bad, is a direct reflection of the world adults are modelling.
Check yourself

Do you…
• Speak well of others, even when you think your kids aren’t listening?
• Demonstrate patience when patience is tough to come by, in traffic, in grocery store line-ups, in waiting rooms?
• Keep opinions to yourself when they are hurtful, judgemental or degrading? (This includes conversations around the dinner table about your stupid boss, your brother-in-law who needs a life, your neighbour who parks their junk heap out front and passing remarks at supermarket tabloids.)
• Avoid gossiping with friends while the kids ‘play-date’ in the other room?
• Listen to other people?
• Show respect for others?
• Stand up for yourself with thought-out responses and control in your voice and actions?
• Speak up for others when you see or hear them being treated or spoken of unfairly?
• Practice common courtesy?
• Speak to the people inside your home with the same courtesy and respect you show to strangers?

Bullying, is a direct by-product of how we as adults behave out there in the world, how we behave in our homes, in our workplaces, our neighbourhoods and our peer groups. If we are going to turn the tide on acceptance, human kindness and consideration, if we are going to make tomorrow a place with less humiliation, torment and fear for our children, it is going to be up to the ‘ones who should know better’ to show them how it’s done through our own behaviour, words and actions. We must, as Gandhi said, “Be the change we wish to see in this world.” and we must be diligent in our efforts because our own children are not the only ones watching and they are always watching.

You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.

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