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Teach Your Children Well

March 28, 2012

I took The Kids to the zoo in Columbia last week.  The Boy insisted on wearing those shoes.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I dislike them.  You know the ones – the toe shoes, with the five separate toes.   They’re ugly.  My kids and The Man love them though, and they wear them.  I don’t mind that much.  It’s definitely not a hill worth dying on.

So he wears the shoes.  No big deal.  As we’re walking through the crowds (since when did that zoo get crowded?), a group of kids starts talking very loudly about the shoes.  “Oh my GOSH.  Look at that boy’s shoes!”  “Eww, those shoes are so weird!”  They went on and on, and the mom even joined in saying, “Yeah, you won’t ever have those ugly things.”  Meanwhile, The Boy is starting to follow me very closely, trying to hide his shoes.  I assured him that the kids were likely jealous of his crazy shoes, and were seriously lacking manners.

This certainly wasn’t any sort of severe bullying or anything; it was a one-time thing, and it wasn’t even all that mean.  One thing stood out, though.  Not once, in the nearly ten minute encounter, did the mom try to shush her obnoxious brood.  She walked along, inches away, encouraging them and even adding her own comments.

You see, during moments like these, we should be teaching our children.  As adults and parents, it’s our duty.  If we don’t, they will be mean to one another.  It’s that simple.  I do believe that kids can sometimes work it out on their own.  In fact, I often tell my kids that I don’t want to hear any more tattling.  I even throw out the “unless there’s blood, y’all figure it out.”  However, if we don’t set good examples and give them the tools to work it out, how will they ever do it successfully?  They won’t.

Recent conversations with friends have rendered me furious at dismissive parents, faculty, and people in administrative roles.  I leave what should be a friendly lunch with other moms sad and frustrated.

Disclaimer:   I’m not at all talking about the school my kids attend.  My kids are a little too young to really see the need for it, but Lake Forest Hills does have an anti-bullying system in place.

But these conversations.  Stories of kids, the same kids again and again, treating their peers with hatred.  If you’re not on the bully’s side, you’ll be picked on.  Might as well join the pack, right?  That may not be the right choice, but it’s better than having your legs covered in welts after being whipped by a bead wielding bully on the playground.  Unfortunately, all the other kids are standing by, watching, scared to speak up, because they understand the consequences.  You speak up, you suffer.

What sounds absurd really is absurd.  What’s even worse is what’s being done about it.  The parents who are angered by this don’t have mean kids.  The parents of the mean kids are often oblivious, telling the kids to work it out on their own.

While I do believe that the fundamental responsibility lies with the parents, when kids are at school, the school has to take over.  The stories I’m hearing are of administrators and teachers who are well aware of what is happening, but they’re scared of the bully’s parents.  Excuse me?  Does this mean they don’t want to upset them?  Miss out on a big donation check?  Honestly, I can’t think of anything more important than our kids and raising them in a safe environment that builds confidence and good character.  As soon as you take all that away, what on earth is the point?

Let me just say this to the parents who seem blissfully unaware of their child’s wicked ways.  Deep down you know it’s your child.  Those meetings, seminars, and coalitions are because of your child.   Instead of being so worried about whether they’re the best baseball player, wear the coolest clothes, or have the latest iPod, how about teaching them to be kind, respectful, and courteous to one another.  It may seem like an insurmountable and boring task, but hey, it’s a little part of what I like to call PARENTING.  No one said it was easy.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2012 2:34 pm


    I love it when you’re funny, but I like it even more when you showcase righteous indignation.
    Good mom.
    Great post.


  2. Lynn Reese permalink
    March 28, 2012 11:58 pm

    Jenny, thanks for speaking out. Someone needs to.

  3. Tami Pirkle permalink
    March 29, 2012 9:25 am

    Jenny Wright for President! Thank you Jenny for saying what needs to be said. I agree with the previous commenter that you so witty and make terrific points that way, but I also sincerely appreciate your voice when you’re encouraging folks to wake up.

  4. Carol Byess permalink
    March 30, 2012 4:27 pm

    As a former teacher of yours, I must say that I am very proud of you! My only wish is that everyone would take the time to “raise” their children to be well behaved, caring, responsible citizens like I know yours are going to be!

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