Are we training our kids to be victims? Or are we training them to be “more than conquerors”?
I think we are training them to be victims far too often.
I have read that as much as 90% of “bullying” is words. Just words. All of us have been hurt by words somewhere along the way, but I dare say that we have allowed ourselves to be hurt by them more than we should. When my feelings were hurt in second grade, my dad taught me this little ditty: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
I went back to school the next day ready for the words, whatever they were. I had a shield; when the sharp arrows flew, I held up my shield—“Sticks and stones. . .” I felt brave like a warrior.
We have been taught that Christians are nice and sweet, that we do not retaliate, that we turn the other cheek, that we do not fight. We work hard as parents to speak kindly to our own children (as much as possible). Then when someone else speaks words that hurt our little guys, we are ready to deal with the bully! Call the parents, call the teacher, call the principal; and if all else fails, call the psychiatrist.
Instead of teaching our kids to stand up, we teach them to come to us and we will fix their problems. Instead of equipping them, we handicap them. We teach them to fear; we teach them that they cannot handle situations without us. We teach them by what we do.
Perhaps we should teach them to respond with courage according to what is right.
When John the Baptist saw the Pharisees coming to the Jordan River, he called them a brood of snakes. I wonder how he would have done on the playground in our modern schools. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, whitewashed walls, snakes, vipers, and condemned to hell. Was Jesus a bully? Was Jesus being Christlike? How could he say such things?
What we teach our kids to do is the key. We should teach our kids that saying hurtful things is wrong and does not honor the Lord. We should also teach our kids how to respond if others are being hurtful. The Pharisees were hurting the people; John and Jesus called it like it was.
When bullies show up, fear is not God’s plan for us, nor for our children. Our kids need a different attitude.
How about this? Isaiah 43:1 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
Equip them with God’s word and equip them with a practical strategy, such as my dad gave me. Here’s another strategy: Smile, look the bully in the eye, and say, “It’s a free country; believe what you want.” Then walk away.
Practice this at home. Practice, practice, practice. Telling your child to do this is not enough. Practice.