Thursday, October 7, 2010

Breaking the Bullying Cycle

I have been sharing my story for years as to how I used to be a bullying mom and invariably people respond with either a thank you for inspiring them to take responsibility for how they have behaved and then there are other subscribers who demand to be taken off my list having been triggered by what I have shared.

I was out last night at a friend's house for dinner...a retired teacher and one of the kindest and loving women I know. She isn't a big news watcher so I caught her up on all the coverage of bullying lately and of course she was very interested having been in the school system for 35 years. (just as an aside, she is definitely not one of the negative examples that the documentary Waiting for Superman highlights.)

I had shared with her that I felt there had been an abundance of talk about the effects of bullying but not a lot on how to actually break the cycle. My friend was absolutely shocked and of course saddened as we all are to know how this cycle has permeated so deeply in our society.

Neither one of us can understand why more people aren't talking about how kids don't become bullies once they hit the school grounds...the conditioning starts way before then!

Our kids watch our every move...they overhear our overt comments and also take in the implied messages we send to them.

They are in the back seat as we curse at the driver who cut us off and hear us complain how "those" people...from whichever country they mention, can't drive.

They are within earshot as we judge and speak of our intolerance of other's lifestyle choices.

We yell, demean, disrespect and otherwise bully our front of them.

We separate or divorce and the impact of our meanness to each other is engrained in them.

I'm not saying I have all the answers, nor that I am a perfect role model or that my kids are perfect angels but what I know for sure is that if we don't stop and take a look at what we are modelling, we will keep feeding this insidious cycle...more lives will be needlessly lost...more families torn apart...

We have to start being aware of what we are teaching them remembering that our kids look up to us, they think we know everything and will adopt our beliefs and behaviors because they don't know any other way.

It's a common sense solution...being the best role models we can be for our kids will make a huge impact on breaking this cycle...and hopefully one day for good!!

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