While organizing my newspaper information and photos this morning, I had the TV on. The first thing I heard was about several boys, ages 13 - 17, bullying another youngster...beginning with dragging him through the snow and ending with hanging him up on a fence...with a bunch of horrible things in-between. The youngster being bullied had done nothing, but for some reason was targeted by this group of boys. I had to turn the station. I can't imagine how anyone can be so mean to another person. The only thing worse than kids being mean to other kids is adults being mean to kids. The report I heard later this morning was even more disturbing. The ladies on The View were talking about the mother who disciplined her child by forcing him into a freezing cold shower for not listening and pouring Tabasco sauce in his mouth and making him swish it around for either saying a bad word or just saying something she didn't like. I remembered hearing about this on promo shots for a Dr. Phil show earlier. I don't know any more than that about it because each time I heard the show promo, I couldn't change the station fast enough. I can't get the images out of my head for what I had heard and certainly didn't want to have to deal with any more. Can you imagine treating someone you supposedly love in this manner? And worse yet, feeling justified in doing so!
There is never a good reason to be mean to another person. Adults do all kinds of insane things to keep their kids in line and call it "discipline"...it's ridiculous! Every time I hear that someone would act better if you could beat their butt or how kids would talk better if you could crack their mouths...I cringe. Adults, for the most part, don't go around smacking other adults when they swear or say cruel things, why would it be ok to do so to a child? Where do the kids learn swear words? I don't remember ever hearing a swear word until I hit seventh grade. My parents, grandparents, teachers and the like didn't swear. I didn't know what a swear word was. How quickly it is to slip and say a swear word when you hear them frequently.
We often put kids in impossible situations and then expect them to be cheerful about it. The things that our two youngest girls did that would drive me crazy, were things that they learned from me. I realized very quickly that someone could come in and sit on the arm of the sofa or track mud though the house and they would apologize and I would tell them not to worry about it. Sometimes these weren't even my friends...a sales person perhaps, or acquaintance. Would I afford my husband or children the same courtesy? Not usually.
After becoming a parent, I was given what I thought was good advice. I deal with many kids...of all ages... and have done so for most of my life. The advice was for me to treat other people's children as I would treat my own. After a few years as a step-parent/parent, I learned that what we really need to do is treat other people's children the way we would like them to treat ours. We aren't always that nice to our kids - quick to snap at them or disgusted about having to say the same things over and over. For the most part, we are more understanding of children who are not our own - especially if their parents are standing right there. You know how it goes, you can say things to your family, but you don't want anyone else to go after them, even if you agree with what is being said.
That's not to say I don't slip up. I sometimes pick on my parents a little too much - or yip at my husband about things I would never give other people a hard time about...but I do try.
"Treat others the way you want to be treated"...is one of the most important sentences I've ever heard. After yipping at one of the kids or at my husband, I think about that sentence, and then I try to make amends.
Treat people the way you want to be treated. It's the most important thing I'll ever write in this column.