Christmas, Bullying, And Raising Kind, Compassionate Children.

I can’t believe it’s Christmas time again. Well, it was when I began writing this post.

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy helping others in need all year-round, but especially this time of the year.  There are so many people in need and we are called to help them.

Unfortunately, this time of year also brings out the greediness in many.  You usually see this on Black Friday (which starts on Thanksgiving night now) and just before Christmas when people fight over the products that they must have.

Our children are aware of all of this.  They are also aware of when we are unkind to each other and them. Conversely, they’re also aware of our kindness and compassion for each other.

This is why I was sickened and angered by this dad who forced his daughter to walk to school which is miles away while he videotaped her in order to punish her for bullying.

Punishment is also a form of bullying because it teaches children how to force people to do what they want.  It is a temporary, ineffective solution to any behavioral issues, but especially for bullying.  Most bullying is the result of bullies feeling powerless because there’s either too much control in the home, i.e. authoritarian parenting (very controlling and punitive), or not enough care and acknowledgment, i.e.neglectful and permissive parenting. Some children (and adults) are so desperate for control and power that they will target seemingly weaker people. They push and push until they get the reaction they want and then they feel powerful being over the other person.

While I completely understand the seriousness of bullying as I have been bullied and made fun of my whole life, and I just dealt with a cyber bully, I feel like the dad just reinforced the bully mentality by making his daughter walk to school and video it. 

What did it teach her about kindness and respect? NOTHING! And his demeanor was very punitive and bullyish. Forcing her to walk in the cold while he followed her in his truck and videoed the whole thing is punishment, not a consequence of her actions. And SHE was also bullied herself. Think maybe she was trying to exercise power over others like they had done to her? There is no excuse for bullying, but you have to understand all the reasons why a child is behaving in a certain manner so that you can work with him/her and teach him/her.

Children learn what they live.  As I said, I just recently had a cyber bullying incident that I had to report to Facebook.  Both children and adults get behind their screens and say things that they usually wouldn’t ever say to the other person’s face.  I have not been a bully but I have been harsh online and have had to apologize for my behavior.  Saying anything cruel and calling names is bullying and verbal and emotional abuse!

It’s very important to realize that people of any age that act poorly usually feel poorly.  If one feels good about oneself, usually they don’t have the need to exercise control or get a reaction from another person.  There’s no need to purposefully hurt another person when you have healthy self-compassion.  Bullies are trying to get/do one of two things:

  1.  Exercise control over a weaker person to feel powerful and inflict pain so that someone else can feel the pain that they are feeling.
  2. To get a negative reaction from the victim as well as attention from others.

I would be very upset if I had a child and my child ever bullied another child. Social media and other media outlets are showing bullying to children. So the first two things I would ask if my child was being a bully is “What have I been doing to contribute to this?” And, “Why is my child feeling like he/she has to bully?” There is a reason for all unwanted behaviors.  I would work on the connection between my child and me.

I would limit screen time for my child and insist on knowing every account they have.  Many children and adults have secret accounts for bullying and other inappropriate things that they don’t want anyone else to know about.  It is crucial to be an active participant in our children’s online activities.  We need to stop cyber bullying and teach children that cyber bullying is also never okay.  If they see online bullying, they should put an eyeball 👁 emoji in the comments.  And cyber bullying must always be reported!

I would have many long discussions with my child about why it’s NEVER ok to bully. I would read books with him/her about people who were bullied. I would role play to teach kindness. I would have him/her do community service with me.

Teaching children unconditional kindness is so important.  Unconditional kindness is when we do something kind to someone without expecting any type of reward or credit for it .  This is true kindness.

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Another critical thing I would do is teach my children about all different people and not do anything to criticize differences.  When disability, culture, religion, age, race, and sexuality differences are understood, there’s less bullying because children learn that we’re all humans and we deserve equality and respect no matter what!  This is why I wrote my children’s book about my cerebral palsy which is currently being illustrated.  When we understand someone very different than us, it leads to kindness and compassion (unless the person is mentally ill and unable to be kind).

Finally, I would take the child to and from school and check in with her/his teacher until I could trust him/her again. Gentle parenting is more work than just punishment. Most parents don’t do anything because they don’t know how.

This is an excellent article about helping bullies become more empathetic and compassionate with others.

Understanding what drives bullies is crucial to both stopping and preventing it.  Teaching children empathy and compassion is so important. And Christmas time is a great time to really teach this so it will continue year-long.  When children see and are involved with more giving than receiving, they’re taught about empathy for people who aren’t as well off as they might be.  It also teaches gratefulness and that they are not entitled to get anything.

Christmas and New Years’ is a time to get involved with different charities.  It’s also a time to reflect on our relationships with our children and other people.  Children need our love and a deep connection with us.  They need to see healthy relationships with people.  This is vital for teaching empathy, compassion, and love towards others. They also need us to teach them healthy coping skills for their negative emotions.

I believe most bullies can be reformed if they are worked with for a while.  It may not happen overnight but we have the power to show them what empathy and compassion looks like. We can soften a harden heart by helping them deal with their own pain that is causing them to bully. We can teach them gently that greed and entitlement are bad.

Here is another excellent article about how to deal with bullying.

Children who witness bullying should always report it to a trusted adult.  If they are being bullied, they should do their best not to react and walk away to report it.  I believe teaching children self-defense is also important.  Taekwondo and karate are wonderful ways of accomplishing this!

This Bible verse came up in my devotional recently during my cyber bullying incident. It comforted me and applies to everyone even if one isn’t a believer.

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35, NASB).

As we enter the new year, may we use gentle parenting to prevent bullying and raise kind, compassionate children!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a happy, healthy, blessed New Year!

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Meekness Matters!

Here are some quotes that have been going through my head lately.

“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright, al…
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You’d better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright” ~Revolution by The Beatles.

Also:

Romans 15:1-7:
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

And:

Proverbs 26:20-27:
“Without wood a fire goes out;
without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.
Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
for seven abominations fill their hearts.
Their malice may be concealed by deception,
but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.”

There’s a lot going on in the world today and I’m finding that people are drawn to arguments, hate, aggression, and even violence.  Nobody truly wants to hear each other.  We take our sides and to heck with anyone who dares to disagree.

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I must admit that I am not innocent in this.  I used to regularly go on the attack (without meaning to) with pro-spankers as well as other political topics that people disagree about with me.  Yet, I always tried to draw the line with personal attacks because as a Christ-follower, I am called to love.  I have had to do a lot of apologizing though.  I am far from perfect.  I mess up constantly.

But I do try to be respectful to everyone.

I have learned over the years that trying to force change doesn’t work!  It only makes the other side tune us out and dig their heels in even more.  It certainly does with me.

The Bible talks about this a great deal.  Here are a few more verses:

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, ESV).

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV).

“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. …” (James 3:5-12, ESV).

And Jesus said,

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

Clearly, God does not want us to force things with anyone. It’s perfectly okay to be passionate about topics.  Anyone who has been following me for a while and has read my book knows that I am extremely passionate about treating children from conception to adulthood with respect and gentleness!

So when an issue arose on my Facebook page where I was trying to be respectful and still stand by my belief that all circumcision is hurtful to baby boys, and yet still respect the Jewish religion, I was taken aback by the amount of hate and force in the comments.  All of the hateful comments were deleted.

During the writing of this post, I discovered that the original post shared by one of my admins on my professional Facebook page that upset a Jewish person was in no way inflammatory.  Sometimes we can’t win either way, but read on to understand how to reach more people.

You know, human beings are reading your comments and have feelings too.  I believe the majority of anti-circumcision comments were from gentle parents as we don’t like anything that is harmful to children.  Yet, a Jewish friend of mine had reassured me that the way they do it minimizes the pain and trauma of the baby boy. Most of the anti-circumcision comments claimed that this was totally untrue.

However, I’m well aware that every Jewish ceremony is different.  I was not condoning circumcision, I was simply trying to show respect for the Jewish religion. I may have even been given misinformation after reading some of the respectful information that was placed on the thread. 

I have since learned that some mohels do use topical anesthesia to help with pain relief during the circumcision while others do not.  They do not remove as much skin as the medical community does nor do they use the same equipment as the medical community which is supposed to make the procedure less painful than the hospital circumcisions.

This being said, from what I understand, every mohel removes a different amount of skin from the newborn’s penis.

Being a tattoo person now, I’ve discovered that different areas hurt more than others. But being poked with needles, even though they don’t go deep, hurts everywhere on the body. So I just don’t understand how anyone can say that cutting the baby’s penis doesn’t hurt much. Plus, unlike adults, infants cannot prepare for the pain!  We can take deep breaths to deal with something painful.  But out of nowhere the boy’s penis is cut.  He has no way of preparing for the pain.  And after anesthesia wears off, he will have soreness.

I do understand that circumcision is a commandment; if one still lives by the Law, he/she must obey the commandment.  I encourage all Jews to come to know Yashua HaMeshia.

Click here for why circumcision really isn’t necessary.  And click here for resources for Jews as some are choosing another ceremony that does not involve circumcision.  And for Christians, click here and here to see that we live by grace and absolutely do not need to circumcise our sons.

“For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19, ESV).

Galatians 5:2-11, ESV:

“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.  You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.  For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.”

I also know many people who regret circumcising their sons. Like with spanking or cry-it-out, some just don’t know any better. Know better, do better.  I also believe that stuff that permanently change children’s bodies should wait until they can give consent.

I don’t think parents who have had their sons circumcised are bad or abusive.

There’s a meme going around that says, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” by Desmond Tutu.  While I agree with this in many, many situations, I actually believe that sometimes we need to be a bit more neutral in order for people to truly hear us.

For example, anyone who is familiar with me knows that I am hard core against spanking/hitting children!  I believe that it is abuse!  That said, sometimes I share less aggressive posts about spanking in case a pro-spanker is on the fence and a less aggressive stance on spanking may change his/her mind and lead him/her to gentle parenting.

Do I agree with these posts?  No.

Do I wish that they were stronger in their stance against corporal punishment?  Yes!

But the fact remains that people are more likely to actually listen to us when we present information in a non-inflammatory manner.

Also, as gentle parents, we know, or should know, that when children are upset, stressed out, having a meltdown, or needing a physical or emotional need met that they cannot learn whatever lesson we may want them to learn. Their brains are literally overwhelmed and we must wait until they are calm and receptive to us before we can really teach them.

The same is true for adults.  I have had this experience myself.  In fact, I’m, unfortunately, again dealing with fresh grief and when anyone comes at me with information, especially if it’s in a hostile manner, I just get so overwhelmed and have to walk away.  That’s exactly what I did when my Facebook post got so out of control with mean, angry, accusing comments.  I tried to reason with people on both sides but when it became clear that most people didn’t want to discuss, but rather shame each other, I walked away.  I’m very grateful for my other admins on my page who took over for me and deleted and banned the haters.

Meeknes A.K.A. gentleness matters. Our children are watching us constantly. If we truly a more peaceful world then we had better start treating everyone in a peaceful manner or walk away from the haters. Hate, violence, cyber bullying, aggression are NOT okay.  Peace and change begins with us!  Let’s stop using our screens to hide behind in order to attack others and start engaging in true conversations with each other.

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