Today a 13 year old cried in front of me. She hid her face in her arms and sobbed and wailed as though her heart was broken. If you hadn’t seen the whole episode, you would have thought that her puppy just died. She blamed it all on a coworker and I, of course. We were guilty of the unpardonable offense of calling her out on being a bully. Say WHAT???
Truly, honest to goodness, we pulled her and a friend of hers aside separately and told them to stop picking on a very sensitive boy who wouldn’t hurt a fly. They had been teasing him during lunch and my coworker heard what they were saying and told me. Sick to death of hearing this student tease other ones, I called her on it. After the standard denial, I told her I didn’t believe her, nor did I believe the denial of her friend. Neither one could come up with a plausible explanation for the boy’s distress, and so realized that they were caught. They resorted to that most inefficient weapon, tears. They put their heads down on the lunchroom table and shot us dirty looks for the remainder of the period. An hour or so later, this teenager also told another teacher that we called her a liar. Ugh. So we went through the whole incident again with her and told her to not twist our words to suit her purpose. That’s when she burst into tears – when she was realized she was completely and totally without any valid defense, because she was guilty of being a bully. The truth hurts.
I wish all parents would read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” to their children and teach them that the truth is ALWAYS the better route. When a child tells half truths and untruths all the time, they are setting themselves up to not be believed at any time. We need to teach our children that they are, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, being judged “on the content of their character.” I always taught Louise that she would be better off telling me the truth about something doing something wrong, because then we could both a) work on why she behaved badly, and b) work to resolve the ramifications of the bad behavior. However, if she lied to me about an incident and I found out, her life would be much more uncomfortable than had she fessed up. It’s a model that has worked beautifully for the past 18 years, and I believe her to be a young woman of great integrity today as a result.
The Girl Scout Law says, “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do; and to respect myself and authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place and be a sister to every Girl Scout.” Wow – those are qualities we should strive to embody as adults as well! Bo Bennett, a businessman, philanthropist and motivational speaker also said, “For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.” Bo and his wife Kim created a not-for-profit organization called “Bellado” to promote kindness, respect, generosity, forgiveness, honesty, and patience. All these are the qualities that are in precious short supply today, the qualities that are SO refreshing to see, even in tiny doses. These are what we NEED to teach our kids. Can you just IMAGINE a world full of courageous, responsible, considerate, generous children like that? It would be Heaven!
Parenting Tip of the Day
Teach your children to be honest. Call them on every lie they tell. Advise them that to tell the truth is ALWAYS the better path. Teach them the Girl Scout Law, but tailor it to your family. Make it the Smith Law or the Jones Law, and refer them back to it with love every time they goof up. Every day is a new opportunity to make a difference in the life of your child.
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