Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Soft Bullying

by Kathy Foust

Most of the time when we think about bullies, we picture the big kid poking the scrawny kid in the chest while yelling threats or better yet, the big kid shaking the smaller one upside down for his lunch money (something that still goes on today). But what about what I like to call "soft bullyiing", which is really just another term for manipulation?

Soft bullying is done every day of our lives and we tend to put up with it. Why? Because it's usually done by an authority figure. Well, guess what! No one is an authority figure that you don't allow to be.

For instance, when Hunter got his progress report, the teacher put a note on there that she was concerned about his attendance. I will be the first to admit that school attendance isn't my top priority. If I think he can benefit educationally or emotionally from being somewhere else, then he's going to be somewhere else. For instance, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry a while back. We went on scheduled days off, but had I felt that it would have served him better to go during a school day, then yes, that's when we would have gone. I'm a parent and Hunter is my first concern, not the rankings of the school.

This morning when he woke up at about 12-1 AM, he was very sick. I considered sending him to school anyhow, knowing that they would send him home. When they send him home, it seems to be okay, but when I keep him home it's not. Then it occurred to me. Why was I even worried about what they thought?

I was because it had been drilled into my head that educational professionals know best. Now, I'm not knocking them either. They are underpaid and have to deal with some serious issues. But I have one shot to raise this child and there aren't any "do overs" in this game, so I need to do what I think is best at all times. If that happens to conflict with someone else's opinion..well to be blunt, I couldn't really give a rat's ass. And how do I show my son to stand up for what he believes is right if as an adult I can't do it myself.

Authority figures use their own guidelines and threats of some type of failure, often presented as false concern for us as individuals. If my guidelines and values happen to coincide with theirs, that's fantastic. But, if they don't do I need to allow myself to be bullied into doing it their way instead of the right way? I think not because my backbone isn't that flexible. And, I'd like to be able to look in a mirror or my son's eyes and know that even if I do everything different from the rest of the world, that doesn't mean I'm wrong and no amount of bullying, soft or otherwise is going to make me be someone I'm not. If I falter, I falter in shame and recognize it as so eventually. My goal is to keep that to a minimum.

May we all walk with kindness in our hearts and our eyes open so that we may recognize the injustices that are suffered so that we make take a step further in rectifying them.

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