I recently watched a video of two young boys who were contestants on a talent show. It was one of those videos where they start singing and blow everyone away. These two boy did not disappoint. They were clearly talented but it was not their talent that set them apart, it was their message. One of the boys had been bullied to the point where he had to change schools. They had written a rap song about the pain of their experiences. Everyone listening to them was captivated by these two young kids and the story they were telling.
I sat here watching this video and my thoughts gravitated to my son. He is a sweet boy who loves people. My heart began to hurt for this boy on the video and the thought of my own boy being bullied. I thought about this kid who came home from school everyday relieved that his torment was done for the day. I imagined him going to bed dreading the dawn when he would have to get up and start another day of ridicule. I wonder what kinds of conversations were had at the dinner table. What would I say if it were my kid?
I couldn’t stop thinking about how I would handle it. When I was a kid the standard fatherly response would have been, “suck it up and be a man!” I think we have learned that this response just doesn’t cut it anymore. Where is the line between raising a “man” and condemning our kids to unending torment because it is perceived that they need to “toughen up”? How do we, as dads, recognize where that line is?
We can no longer sit back and hope that it will just work itself out. We need to be informed. There are signs that may point to your child being a victim of a bully. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Warning Signs, 2014)
- Unexplainable injuries;
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry;
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness;
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch;
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares;
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school;
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations;
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem;
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
There are many lessons that we can teach our kids about turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, or standing up for the weak. I don’t believe the lesson for this blog is one that should be taught to the kids but one that should be taught to dads. The greatest responsibility I have is being the father of my two kids. The Bible is very clear where the line is. Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Proverbs 22:6 Train up in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
It is our responsibility to teach our kids so that they know how to deal with these situations when they face them.
Following the voice,