A situation was brought to my attention tonight that I foolishly and naively thought our family would be able to avoid in our safe little homeschool bubble. It's something that has been brewing for some months now, but I thought had been dealt with. However, I was wrong. The situation? Bullies.
Now, I know you may not see this as a major issue. Kids get bullied. Kids may go through a stage where they are the bully. It's typical kid stuff, you might say, and it's no big deal. Well, I'm sorry, but I disagree. Bullying is a serious thing that should not be taken lightly. Children are being harrassed and mentally abused (even physically, in some cases) by peers daily all over this country. Precious lives are torn apart every day by thoughtless and insensitive words or actions. It truly breaks my heart.
I believe mainly bullying comes from children who have self esteem issues and want to feel in control of something or somebody. This kind of bully tends to pick on someone smaller or less outgoing to make them feel more powerful or, at the least, to take pressure off themselves. Sometimes the bully is so insecure of his own position in a group of peers that he has to make someone else feel worse than he does. Again, it breaks my heart.
Most of the families we've chosen to have in our lives and have our children associate with have the same Christian values that we have. We are all teaching our children biblical principles that we are encouraging them to live out in their daily lives. Now, when we know these families intimately, and know we are of the same mind - that the Golden Rule should lead us - the question arises: How do we resolve this issue? We are approaching a huge life lesson. It's going beyond knowing what the Bible says - head knowledge. It's applying that information and living it out - heart knowledge. Now it's time for them to really learn to act on what they've been taught. It's time for them to ask themselves the famous question, "What Would Jesus Do?"
Now to be clear, my child is not directly involved. He is not the bully or the one being bullied. He has been a witness to some of the hurtful actions, and he has stood up for those being picked on. (Two different cases this school year.) I couldn't be prouder of him. When some have buckled and joined in the teasing, my little man has hearkened to the Holy Spirit and has even quoted Scripture to his friend who has been the bully. This Mama's heart is bursting tonight. I am seeing glimpses of the man God is molding him to be.
While I am proud of him, I'm also a little sad as to how I found out about it. My girlfriend called me tonight to tell me what had been occurring. I was clueless. I hadn't really talked to my son about his day, but he hadn't brought it up at all. I asked him about why he hadn't told me, and he said, "You didn't ask." What???!!!?! It made me wonder how often things happen in his little world that he doesn't share with me just because I haven't asked. It worried me. Because even though he wasn't the one being bullied this time, I questioned whether he would tell me if he was.
So the question I pose to myself tonight is this. My son passed the test today, but did I? Have I just assumed that my kids are doing fine, so I haven't bothered to ask them? Has God given me a wake up call?
I can't imagine the heartbreak of losing a child under any condition. But I think about those parents who have had a child commit suicide and are left with so many questions as to why. I never want to have those questions. I pray with all my heart that I use this opportunity God has given me in homeschooling to build tight and open relationships with all four of my children. That they will not only be comfortable in sharing everything with me and Kelly, but they will desire to do so.
I believe communication is so important. It began with my kids asking how and why things work when they were just toddlers; it leads to the deeper questions they have about life and all its craziness, and with me anwering those hard questions honestly. From there, it goes on with them sharing their little insights and opinions, and me listening. I mean really listening, valuing what they have to say and sharing in their revelations. Give and take, little by little. I confess, I get so caught up in the schedules and activities and THINGS that I find myself tuning them out or brushing them off. So God has brought it to my mind tonight. If I'm not willing to listen to them when it doesn't seem very important, will they be talking when it is?
Oh, Lord, that you have given me this great responsibility is humbling and terrifying. Help me in every step of this journey. Remind me to listen, to ask questions, and to truly take part in my children's little lives, so that when the hard times come, they turn to You first and Kelly and me second. Help us in the bullying situation, and soften the little boy's heart who is acting out right now. Be with the one whose heart was so hurt today. Help my little man continue to be friends with all involved while standing firm in the convictions You've given him. Use him, Lord, for Your glory. Amen.