With lots of youngsters returning to school this week I’ve seen plenty of posts on parenting websites about bullying. It is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently and, even though I think we’re a few years away from really needing to worry about it, I asked myself the other day… What would I do if Jade was being bullied? The conversation came up while at a wedding recently when a good friend of mine asked, “What are you going to do when she gets bullied?” My reaction was… “WHEN?? Why do you think she’ll get bullied?” His reason? Because “she’s mixed!” Now, I know this guy really well; he's a school teacher and a very close friend so I was taken slightly aback by the comment. For me, maybe unusually, I have never seen my wife for anything other than my wife! We met in China in a smaller town… (a million people but for China that IS a smaller town) and while we were there, even though we were just friends, we did get some sidewards glances occasionally, but once we moved to a big city it wasn’t an issue – at least not that we knew of! (I can be quite self obsessed!? haha) So, I had to ask my friend… “Why do you assume that she’ll be bullied?” His answer was that “Kids are cruel”. This made me questions, “When do kids get cruel? Where does this cruelty come from? How do we deal with this? And there was one answer to all of these questions; “I really don’t know!” Then I started to wonder, is it really inevitable that a mixed-race child will be bullied over their skin colour or their parent’s ethnicity? These are all questions that I’ve been thinking about recently and I’m struggling to find answers to any of them. After that conversation at the wedding I’ve given it quite a bit of thought but it wasn’t until Jade was in a children's play area a couple of weeks ago and an older kid was getting frustrated with her that I felt completely vulnerable. She was running the gauntlet of older kids in a play area and trying to “make friends” but they were too busy running and push things/smaller kids out of the way and I worried about how she would handle herself. It made me think, what am I going to do if she gets bullied? How do I teach her to stick up for herself? At what point does a parent get involved? What if she's the bully? I’ve decided yet again that I am wholly unprepared for parenting! So what’s my plan? To teach her everything I think she needs to know…
1. To be respectful of others and expect it in return.
2. That I am the person that she can always call and talk to (even if it is something you might not want to tell your dad! I'll be cool about it! Well I say that now anyway)
3. Teach her to be confident and to assert herself (help her with Kung Fu skills).
4. Discuss different courses of action with her in case something does happen.
5. Let her know I will intervene if necessary ( I just hope I don't have to kick a kids ass.... or worse the parent's ass! Heehee)
As usual, I’m not sure whether this is a good plan, a bad plan or an absolutely terrible plan, but I think that most parents are in the same situation. Aren’t we all just making it up as we go along?!