Category Archives: negativity

Is it Ever OK to Make Fun of a Child?

Picture of a blue sky with fluffy clouds. Caption says "Children are only bullied on a continual basis if the bully's behavior is encouraged by the adults in their life"

Picture of a blue sky with fluffy clouds. Caption says “Children are only bullied on a continual basis if the bully’s behavior is encouraged by the adults in their life”

I’ve blogged about this before, and I will continue to blog about it until those who are “grown-up” get it: Kids bully other kids when their behavior is encouraged by the adults in their life

Several weeks ago “friends” posted a picture on Facebook of a child in a stroller. They were treating it as a people of Wal-Mart style pic with which they made comments that they assumed were funny. I looked at that picture and saw a child who was too large for the stroller leaning back hiding her face. In hiding her face, I saw a child who was overwhelmed by the crowd and noise. (it wasn’t clear if it was a mall or theme park or other place, just that there were other people there) In the stroller I saw a child who was perhaps a runner or who perhaps had mobility issues. When I suggested that perhaps the family couldn’t afford a wheelchair the glib comment came back that if the child needed a wheelchair then the government would have provided one.

Sigh. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where all of our medical needs were met by some benevolent caretaker, where there were no wait lists and no need for extended health care coverage? I bet it would be sunny every day and no one ever went hungry either.

The reality is that even here in Canada, children do not get the supports that they need automatically. And if you can’t comprehend that, just ask any parent of a child with special needs.

I mean it’s lovely and wonderful in your life that you don’t have a child or know anyone with a child who has extra needs. But that does not ever give you the right to make fun of someone else’s child. Ever.

Even if this child was not overwhelmed and was leaning back chatting on a cell phone (as was indicated in one of the comments), even if this child did not have mobility challenges and is not a runner, even if this child is simply too large for the stroller, ANY comments that make fun of this child are bullying. When you make fun of anyone, it is bullying.

As an adult, what kind of example are you setting when you bully a child? You are telling your children, your nieces and nephews, your neighbours, your friend’s children that differences are not ok. That bullying is not only ok but that you support and encourage it.

When you do not allow that kind of behaviour in your home and in your life, when you open a discussion about differences, when you become inclusive rather than exclusive, then and only then will we start to see the end of bullying at school.

Think of it another way, when we make a behaviour socially unacceptable, like we did with smoking. Once it was common to see adults smoking in a car with kids in the backseat. Now we look at that behaviour with disgust. That change was made in less than a generation.

I will leave you with a slight digression, if you don’t mind. It is about how children should handle other children that they just don’t like. A couple of friends and I have discussed this many times in the face of some classroom situations we’ve seen in the last few years. We have unanimously agreed that our children do not need to pretend to like everyone. But they must be polite.

Why can’t adults do that in the workplace and set an example for the children in their lives?

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Reality tv moms actually exist

The holidays have left me brimming with stuff to write about, I mean there’s certainly a ton of new material when you throw in Autism, family gatherings, out-of-town family and a huge ice storm that wrecked havoc on homes and businesses. And I’m sure posts on some of these things will come. But that will be later. Right now I’m interested in a conversation I had yesterday with my daughter.

She is currently dancing as part of the cast in a local production. With about 15 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 in the cast, there are obviously a lot of moms who hang around in the back, helping with costumes, makeup and gossiping.

Two of the moms in particular are aggressively vocal, dominating the conversations and spreading their particular brand of nastiness like a poison around the room. They complain about everything, brag about their sons getting ejected from hockey games for mouthing to the ref, brag about yelling at store clerks while they make unreasonable demands and generally treat their children like crap. Being trapped there as witness to their behaviour makes me feel like I’m trapped in some circle of hell watching a mash up of the worst traits of “Dance Moms”, “Toddlers and Tiaras”, and “Wives of some random rich guys” (Or whatever that last one is called.)

I don’t care for that aggressive, put-people-down style of television and until now, I hadn’t believed that people on those shows really, truly exist.

I, and other moms, choose to ignore most of it, but I hadn’t realized until yesterday just how much little ears were paying attention.

“Mom,” my girl asked, “Have you heard those two moms in the change room?” I sighed, knowing at once whom she was referring to. I described them just to be sure and she said “Ya, how come they are so mean?”

I sighed again and explained that some people feel better by putting others down and treating them like dirt.
“But how does that make them feel better?” Good question. One that I don’t have the answer for.

In fact, talking about these moms felt a lot like talking about bullies at school. Sigh. I know some people never grow up, but how do I explain that to a ten year old who wants everyone to get along?

I find it really sad that people feel the need to live like that. Yes we all have bad days, and sometimes need a few minutes to bitch about it/get it off your chest, but there comes a time when it is time to stop dominating the conversation with your complaints, close your mouth and just listen to someone else.

Just imagine what a wonderful world it would be if all the complainers in your life (especially those you can’t choose to get away from such as family members or other parents at school or dance) would just learn an ounce or two of self-regulation and stop after two minutes? The very air would be easier to breathe and the negative impact on our children would be greatly reduced.

In the end, I told my daughter how I avoided getting sucked into the negativity, and how I ignored most of it. It’s not the most satisfactory answer, as it seems to leave something hanging, but it was the best I had at the time. And it’s not my job to change these women. But is it at least partly my responsibility when their comments are being noticed by my child? Maybe. But I am not good with any confrontation, even if I am in the right, and I am chickening out of even a gentle rebuke. I know I will bump into these women again at future productions and maybe competitions, maybe then I will say something, and then again maybe I won’t. I know I don’t treat others like that, so I know that the example I am setting my children is the one I want them to see and emulate. And that is clearly my job and it’s one I take seriously.