Kids Are Jerks. (And so are we.)
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
Racism isn't a joke and it's up to us to teach kindness and tolerance in others who are different from us.
It all begins at home. Whether the behavior is racially motivated or not, kids should be taught to treat their peers with kindness and respect. That means not calling my daughter fat (thanks Alex from 4th grade). Not slamming my daughter’s locker shut five times, sneering, and walking away without consequences (thanks, Gabby from 5th grade). Not insulting or putting her down (thank you, Mia from 6th grade). It means not throwing my daughter’s belongings on the floor when she comes back into a classroom or making fun of her acne (now, 7th grade and I have no idea who these boys are, but thanks). My daughter has stopped eating lunch at school. She is self-conscious and hates gym. She compares herself to the “popular” kids who look down on others outside of their group and are flat out rude, judge-mental and mean.
My son has been bullied and made fun of for having autism. (There are too many things that have happened to list.)
Let me say that my kids aren’t perfect either. I typically ask what prompted a situation. I grill them to tell me the whole story. I ask what their part in the exchange was. I ask if they were being nice. My daughter is an eye roller for sure. And she’s a perfectionist. (Again, not perfect.) I understand that kids don’t have filters. They’re kids after all. I do understand that it is in my control to repeat our values. That you try to be a leader. That you don’t judge someone by the color of their skin, culture, religion, or sexual identity.
I love that my daughter is a great writer and loves theater. I know she will come into her own as she has already made over 10 new friends this year. She’s learning how to tow the line and focus on herself. I’m hopeful that she will find her tribe and be a spaz in high school, just like I was.
I am not a perfect parent by any means. And I don’t doubt that my kids have exhibited crap behavior at times. (Remember the eye rolling.) I will say that I hold them accountable if I catch wind of said crap behavior.
I can tell you that my kids don’t tell me the color of their friend’s skin or that of other kids in school. They have only described character. They’re pretty open about if someone is nice or not nice. They will speak up if someone isn’t being nice to someone else. They have a strong sense of justice.
We have to continue to condemn any type of bad behavior in our community. Whether it’s racism or kids being insensitive by spitting on other kids. Neither should be tolerated.
(Thanks for reading my PSA!)