"Mom, were you bullied when you were a kid?"
I was asked that question last night and I wasn't prepared for it. I always want to be able to relate to my kids, but all of a sudden I was faced with a moment when I didn't think I could.
Bullying is a huge problem for all ages, but it can really hurt when you're a kid trying to find your place.
*This isn't a post requesting sympathy or even well-wishes for my kid. We are handling the situation and getting help to resolve it. This post is to bring this type of bullying to light.*
Bullying hasn't been an ongoing issue for my kids. It's fairly recent and (so far) it's not at school or at social events, it's on the iPad.
So, in response to the above question, I thought for a second and responded something like, "You know, I don't think I really was bullied as a kid. But, if we had the devices that kids today have, I probably would have been." We went on to talk about it more, of course, and we continue talking about it.
The type of bullying that is happening is through a texting app that we set up so the kids could text their friends when they have WiFi and also through the app "musical.ly." We all have experience with seeing adults bully each other online. It happens all the time! Hiding behind a screen makes it incredibly easy for people to say/type things that they would never say to someone's face. However, the words still sting and, unfortunately, remain on the screen for us to read over and over- unless we delete them.
PARENTS/CAREGIVERS, I encourage you to check your child's devices regularly without warning that you will be doing so. Yes, this does invade privacy. But, in my opinion, it's better to be safe than sorry. My kids are welcome to express themselves privately in a journal and I won't touch it. But, if my kid is having conversations that are hurtful to themselves or others, I need to know about it. I would like to think that my own kids are innocent and wouldn't say/type hurtful things, but that's been proven wrong.
When someone says hurtful things to another person, online/text/face to face, it's easy for the recipient to begin believing that the things that were said are true, even if it was completely untrue. I'm trying to keep this in mind while we deal with this bullying situation-that just because it isn't currently happening anymore (thank you, app developers, for the option to block people) it doesn't mean that the words aren't still swirling in your mind feeling more and more true each moment.
Parenting is hard!
I'm about to make this long post even longer, but I really want to tell you about our topic last night at Crossroads (the youth group I lead at our church). We just started a 4 week series about school and last night's focus was on belonging. We talked about how everyone wants to belong and that we put a lot of time and energy into trying to belong- even those people who seem to "wake up like this" or whatever....they put effort into it, too. We looked at how during Jesus's ministry on earth, he accepted and loved absolutely everyone, even people with terrible pasts and people with terrible intentions. Jesus was an example to us that our goal should be to love and accept people. If we took the time and energy we put into trying to make ourselves belong and, instead, made efforts to look around us and help other people belong and feel loved and accepted, how amazing would our schools (workplaces, etc) be?
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 says "Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things."
I'd like to point out that little bit near the beginning "it doesn't seek its own advantage."
That's what I'm talking about...instead of seeking our own advantage, how can we show others this kind of authentic love and acceptance? I think it's contagious and if we each tried, the world would be a better place.
Last night's lesson was from the Groove series of youth Bible studies. www.youthministrypartners.com/studies/groove
Please let me know how you are showing love and acceptance to others!