Let's be careful not to bully our children into not being bullies. In a recent Huffington Post article a mother talked about how she taught her daughter "to damn well treat people right." (Sorry for the language. That was her exact quote.)
In the article the mother threatened her daughter with no ride to school if the daughter didn't include another girl in her friend group. In the end, the girls became friends and the daughter learned:
"...her initial instinct about people isn’t always correctly motivated." And that "...you can be friends with the least likely people; the best friendships aren’t people that are your 'type!' In the world of friendship, contrast is a plus..."
While I understand the point of the article is to promote inclusion of others, I have to "disagree appropriately" on a few things. First, teaching children not to follow their instincts can be dangerous for them. Instincts stop many children from getting kidnapped or abused. Instincts, or gut feelings, should be trusted. Children who don't follow instincts often are very passive and can end up having bad influences for friends.
Second, diversity is not the greatest good. Teaching children to look for good friends (good people) is more important than any "type" of person is. Diversity doesn't make a great friend. Having things in common and knowing how to communicate, as well as a person being a good influence or inspiration, are more likely the things that make a good friendship. Outside appearance, economic status, etc. all mean nothing to friendship. If they do, then the person is stereotyping. If people choose friends because they're diffrent than them, isn't that exactly the same as being friends with someone just because they're exactly the same? Diversity is not a principle and cannot be built upon. All people are diverse no matter what. I've never met any two people who are alike.
Lastly, it's wrong to suggest that children who don't include others are bullies. They aren't necessarily motivated by evil or meanness at all. Leaving someone out is a clear sign of a lack of skills. The child who is left out lacks social skills and the children leaving someone out are lacking social skills too. The excluded child could be used to being passive and not know how to start a friendship or conversation. The children leaving her out likely lack the same skills. All the children concerned are not used to change. No one needs to be called names or villainized with the term "bully."
If anyone was a bully in this article, it was actually the mother. She bullied her child into not being a bully. What is a bully? A person who uses fear to manipulate someone to act in a certain way. The mother's tone suggested a threat to withdraw love and the threat to not drive a child to school is fear-based parenting. It's aggressive and totally unnecessary.
I think this mother would have had greater success and had a good tone if she would have first established a loving correction and then given an instruction about finding the three "cool" things about the new girl. Having a parent counseling session about the issue and making a plan for changing the behavior or problem solving the issue (if the new child was actually a bad influence to be friends with) would have been really powerful as well.
Bullying is a word that is over used and misunderstood. More often than not I see people saying the word and pointing fingers while behaving just like a bully does. It's way more productive to teach children skills and problem solving — and call that child raising — rather than stereotyping children and their behaviors with a word such as "bullying."
This is not to say that real bullying doesn't exist and that it isn't on the rise. It does and it is. But, I have noticed that the more we talk about it the more bullying there actually is.
Whenever a society goes away from principle and toward social engineering, then there will always be more people behaving like animals. Bullying will naturally be a result of lack of morality, virtue and principle — as well as understanding of roles. To stop the bullying we must bring our children back to truth, light and principle. Fear will never stop a bullying epidemic; in fact, it will just create mini-bullies or activists who will specialize in bullying for their real or made-up causes. Leaders don't bully. Instead, they advocate, teach and understand while proposing solutions.
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