This particular Juicy Lesson is from 10-16-2013.
It has been expanded from its original version and it appears in my book “Aim with your heart; shoot with your mind. Memoir of an Extra-ordinary teacher”. I am hoping to get my book out by autumn of this year.
A twelve-year old Florida girl committed suicide last month by jumping off a tower at an abandoned concrete plant. The reason: this young girl, Rebecca Sedwick had been cyber-bullied by two girls – aged twelve and fourteen – for more than a year as well as being harassed by fifteen to twenty others until she changed schools last year. Changing schools however did not save her life because the two accused girls continued to use social media to persist in the bullying, one even writing ‘eat bleach and die’.
After her death, one of the alleged bullies supposedly responsible for Rebecca’s suicide, posted the following callous remark on social media: “Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but IDGAF.”
One of the alleged bullies’ parents had this to say to a reporter who called the home seeking a comment: “I am sure that whatever they are saying about my daughter is not true.” In addition, one of the reasons given for the arrests of the two young girls was the failure of the parents to take punitive action including the parents of one of these alleged cyber bullies allowing their daughter to continue using social media.
Do you believe this? What is wrong with these and other parents who in the interests of being friends with their kids have pretty well completely abdicated their responsibilities as parents?
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd who was responsible for arresting the two girls, himself a father of two and grandfather of nine, put it succinctly when he said to parents that they “should stop being their kids’ best friends and start being their kids’ best parents.”
The following anecdote demonstrates another manifestation of unacceptable behaviour from a parent in his effort to satisfy the desires – expressed or not – of his five-year-old son and I will use it to demonstrate the dangers inherent in behaviour like this for the father as well as, unfortunately, his kid.
At some kid’s birthday party, Lee and I were seated opposite a young kid and his father who wasn’t really sitting but was instead standing to the side of his seated son, much like an attentive server in a restaurant.
The meal was pizza with some sides, as well as cake and ice cream for dessert dispensed buffet-style. The whole time, this Dad, who obviously wanted only the best for his young son, didn’t interact with the other parents but was completely zeroed in on satisfying his son’s every desire, whether it was expressed or not. “Do you want some this? Do you want some that? Do you need anything, another napkin, cutlery?” And so it went… On and on… for the entire meal, which must have lasted a good thirty minutes or so.
This father’s helicopter monitoring of his son’s needs was really bothersome, but fortunately, he was the only parent carrying on like this. What’s wrong with that picture? At first glance, nothing much. But let’s examine this father’s desire to completely sublimate himself in the act of satisfying his son who, by the way, never even said thanks to his dad, this spoiled kid, whose fault it wasn’t because he was too young to have grasped what was going on. It was the father who should have known better.
The father was obviously very much “in love” with that child of his, but I think his behaviour, as I have outlined, probably was doing his kid more harm than good. Imagine for a minute, a scenario where this kid didn’t get what he wanted at some future time. Put it this way, I wouldn’t want to be around to experience the tantrum which would most likely result. For this kid seemingly was gradually being socialized into a system where his expectations did not leave any room for not having his way and not getting what he wanted. Pity this poor kid if any of his desires went unfulfilled.
You can’t really blame the kid because it wasn’t his fault, he was being spoiled rotten. As for the father, I can’t really see him not backing his kid up whether the kid had earned that kind of support or not. At school, for instance, this type of parent would go to bat for his child regardless of whether the kid was right or wrong. It was the teacher’s fault, the vice-principal’s fault … but it was never the kid who had done wrong and who was simply being asked to assume responsibility for whatever had happened and to take the punishment that a teacher, or an administrator, had believed should be meted out, given the circumstances. Not only will the father back his son up no matter what the true facts of the case would be, but he is also modelling behaviour that was wrong and actually, regardless of the outcome of that particular sequence of events – i.e. whether he was actually able to get his kid off or not – was doing his kid more harm than good in the long term. In short, that father would be viewing the situation myopically, only wanting to get his kid off regardless of whether the kid had behaved properly or not. That’s all.
The kid would have had a negative learning experience from this type of thing. Always play the victim, never take responsibility for anything that happens whether or not it’s your fault, and above all deny, deny, deny, even when caught red-handed, with your hand in the cookie jar, as it were. Too bad Daddy’s so blind, probably the type who speeds up at a four-stop intersection and patronizes someone who confronts him and calls him on it.