Monthly Archives: August 2014

Sincerely, from The Milk Mafia

As a white, middle class woman living in one of the most powerful countries in the world, I was afraid I didn’t have much to complain about. On one hand, life is good. But a good life can be so boring.

Luckily, I joined a local support group for breastfeeding mothers and learned–much to my relief–that I am oppressed!

Yes!

People hate me! Or, to be more accurate, they hate my son for breastfeeding.

Or…to be more accurate, they feel weird when I feed my son in public places without a cover…and then, when they ask me to be more discreet, they hate when I inform them of the law.  (Let me educate you: the law says that a breastfeeding mother’s feelings/opinions matter more than yours.)

Yeah, and people really hate whenever I rally a bunch of angry friends to protest and nurse in their faces. Or when I say that nobody can tell me how to parent my nursling–but then I tell other mothers how to parent their teenage sons who stare at me…they hate that, too!

So, in other words, they hate me.

And I’m oppressed.

But don’t worry because I’m a fighter. I won’t let them bring me down!

Any time somebody approaches me with my baby at my chest, I already know what I’m going to say to them.

They usually start with, “Excuse me? Would you mind using a cover?” and before they can continue, I tell them: YOU NEED EDUCATION! What I’m doing is healthy, natural, and beautiful and I need to do it right HERE, right NOW.

Then I whip out my pamphlet explaining that the law says I can make people uncomfortable as much as I want. And, of course, that’s all the matters. If the law says I can, then I’m going to do it, regardless.

Also, thankfully, I have a great support system on the internet. (It’s important for oppressed people to have a support system.)

All I have to do is tell the ladies on Militant Milk Mamas about the stranger who dared ask for a little courtesy, and they will fight for me! If the whole ordeal rattled me or made me cry, they will be even louder.

What do we want?

ATTENTION!
No, AWARENESS!

When do we want it?

When the BABIES DECIDE!

That’s right. I don’t do this for myself. It’s for my baby. He tells me when and where to pull up my shirt, and he decides whether or not I cover him in the process. Lots of the other members at Militant Milk Mamas use this method, which makes it much easier to ignore the people who don’t.

Some people have argued that it really isn’t an issue of discrimination. (They’ve told me it’s not about right/wrong so much as the ugly attitude I get whenever I can’t see beyond myself.)

But, I simply retreat to my support group to be reminded we’re right. Everything is all about us our babies. It’s totally worth all the drama, because breastfeeding mothers have the right to be as obnoxious as they want to be!

I’m so glad I learned that I’m a victim of oppression.  (What would I do without my support group? Empathize with people who are more modest than me?  Cooperate and compromise? No thanks!)

My friends and I won’t be happy until everybody thinks/feels exactly as we do. In fact, if the law said we could walk around naked–then, by golly, we would do it–just to have the chance to educate you…

Be looking for your pamphlet, you ignorant prude.

Sincerely,
-The Newest Initiate of the Milk Mafia

—-

Proverbs 16:27-29 ” Idle hands are the devil’s workshop….”

Why Children Are Running Away from Home

There were many times I considered running away from home as a pre-teen.

Why?

Well, I didn’t have words to express all my feelings at the time. But, if I could go back today and write an angry letter to my parents, it would have sounded like this:

“I see the panic on your face, Mom and Dad.

I know the internal terror as you see the statistics and hear the stories about run-aways.
I see you desperately scrambling to do damage control with me, your beloved child, and you try to manufacture family loyalty while you still have the chance. So I want to help you.

You may think you know why I want to leave, but I’m not sure you do.

You think it’s because I don’t respect authority. You believe “the culture” is so lost, so perverse, so beyond help that it encourages kids like me to rebel. You believe your once-compliant daughter has turned a deaf ear to the voice of God; chasing selfishness and material things instead. You think that my friends and a few pop stars have so screwed-up the morality in my world that I’m ready to abandon my loved ones.

But those aren’t the reasons I’m leaving this family.

Those are NOT the problems, Mom and Dad.

You are the problem.

Let me elaborate…

1) You speak in a foreign tongue.

Mom and Dad, you talk and talk and talk, but you do so using a dead language. You’re holding on to dusty words that have no resonance in my ears, not realizing that just saying those words louder isn’t the answer. All the buzzwords that used to get my attention when I was a kid, no longer do.

I need you to speak in a language that I can understand. Maybe you have some decent things to tell me, but you need to say it my way.

2) Your vision can’t see past your building.

You always want me to do the dishes or clean my room. That stuff doesn’t really matter in real life, guys.   I matter more than the house, don’t I? So, stop with the chore list already…

Or at least ask ME what chores I’d PREFER to do.

3) You choose lousy battles.

I know you like to fight, Mom and Dad. That’s obvious–based on how many times you pick fights with me. You can go to war with the best of them. The problem is, your battles are too darn small. What movies I watch? How short my skirt is? Whether or not I come home late? That’s not the kind of stuff I care about.

I’d much rather talk about what YOU’RE doing wrong…

Mom and Dad, I need you to stop being warmongers with the trivial, and pacifists regarding my list of important things.

4) Your love doesn’t look like love.

Love seems to be a pretty big deal to you, but I’m not feeling that when the rubber meets the road. In fact, more and more, your brand of love seems incredibly selective and decidedly narrow…

It feels like a big bait-and-switch, sucker-deal; advertising you love me the way I am–YET YOU STILL WANT ME TO GROW UP.

Guys, can you love me if I don’t always agree with you? It doesn’t seem so.
Can you love me if I cuss and drink and get tattoos, and God forbid, vote Democrat? I’m doubtful. Can you love me if I’m not sure how to define love, and marriage, and Heaven, and Hell? It sure doesn’t feel that way.

From what I know about Jesus, I think he looks like love. The unfortunate thing is, YOU don’t look much like him.

That’s part of the reason I’m leaving, Mom and Dad.

These words may get you really, really angry, and you may want to jump in a knee-jerk move to defend yourself or attack my positions line-by-line, but I hope that you won’t.

I hope that you’ll just sit in stillness with these words for a while, because (whether you believe they’re right or wrong) they’re real to ME.

And that’s the whole point.

That’s the whooooole point, Mom and Dad.

What I feel.

Let’s talk about what I feel All. The. Time. Because that’s the whole point.

Give me a reason to stay at home. And maybe you can convince me not to punish you with my absence.”

——

Huge thanks to John Pavlovitz for helping me articulate what 13-year-old me would have LOVED to say to my clueless, unloving parents.

How to Avoid Raising Privileged Kids

Recently, my dad had a breakthrough. He said out loud, “I guess I’ve been passing on white privilege without even knowing it.” YES!

Exactly!  That’s how it works, Dad!

Most of the time, the superior “haves” don’t even know they’re contributing to The System of oppression in our culture. I’m so proud of him for finally understanding.

My dad has been married to my mom for over 28 years, and the parenting style they used with all four of us kids was doomed to produce privilege.

One of their children is a happily-married, home-owning mother of two; one lives overseas and makes tons of money with his own business; one is going to college on several academic and athletic scholarships; and “the baby” (who’s still in high school) has never thrown a brick through a convenience store window…

Never!

Unfortunately, until last week, my parents didn’t even realize they contributed to the privilege of their kids with just about every lesson they taught…I suspect there are many other successful parents who are worried about accidentally passing on “privilege,” and helping their kids enter the world far ahead of their less-fortunate peers. 

So, I’ve compiled this helpful list of ways you can learn from my parents’ mistakes and avoid raising privileged kids like me:

1. Put off marriage as long as possible.  It’s VERY hard to fall in the cracks, if you partner with another person and commit to working through life together.  Having married parents automatically puts kids way ahead of the pack; so avoid that. Feel free to live with your boyfriend/girlfriend and make lots of promises (as well as making more babies). Just don’t actually get married.

2. Build your family with as many last names as you can.  Your oldest two kids have one father and the next baby has a different one?  That’s a good start.  But it would be even better if all of you moved in with Man #3 or #4–and you started referring to him as their daddy on Facebook.  You don’t have to worry about having snotty, privileged kids, if they have absolutely no sense of family identity.

3. Do NOT teach kids that life has rules.  Privileged parents always tell their kids that there are certain steps to take, in order to succeed. There are right and wrong ways to do things.  But what they don’t know is all those principles (they call “common sense”) are actually part of an unfair system.  That’s right! Successful people are successful ONLY because they conform to an oppressive System. All rules are created by The Man. Don’t teach your kids to follow them.

4. DO teach kids that “nobody can tell you what to do.”  This goes with #3, because anybody who tries telling you what to do wants you to follow rules. Teach your kids that all “authority” is suspicious,  because they enforce the System. This includes preachers and teachers–and especially police officers. (My parents always taught me that policemen helped people. Aaaaand, before I knew it… privilege.)

5. Do NOT model self-control and delayed gratification.  The idea that delayed gratification “works” is a rule that comes from the System. Most privileged kids are taught patience. So make sure you don’t show your kids that good things come to those who wait. Instead, put new clothes and furniture on a credit card.  Maybe rent-to-own a big screen TV. And make sure you buy lotto tickets regularly. The more you buy, the better your chances for an easy million dollars!  “Saving” and “Waiting” are habits of the 1%.

6. Do NOT teach them that hard work pays off. This belief that effort makes a difference is the backbone of the Capitalist System.  If your kids believe they have some power to decide their own future, they almost can’t help being successful…which means leaving the underprivileged kids behind.  Make sure your kids believe they are trapped–and it doesn’t matter how hard they work because the whole System is rigged.  And don’t teach them they can learn from others who have made it.  

—-

This probably isn’t a comprehensive list–but it’s the best I can do from an already-privileged perspective.  To be quite honest, I don’t do any of this stuff with my own children. They’re already well on the way to being family-centered, System-loving, money-making individuals.

But perhaps it’s not too late to make sure your kids aren’t so privileged.

Please note the above steps can be followed by people of any background and any skin color. These techniques are at play in plenty of white ghettos across the nation, and their children are growing up helpless, hopeless, and trusting nobody except other poor, unsuccessful people like themselves.

It’s not easy being disadvantaged…but it sure beats privilege.   (*spits*)

Suicide Culture. It’s Like We WANT People to Die…

He stands on the edge, staring at the crowded street 40 stories down. But he doesn’t see the cars or the people or the pavement. He focuses on nothing but the sound in his head…those relentless voices, fighting with each other, just as they have been for months.

You’re worthless. You’re losing it. If people knew, they’d laugh. But what about the people you love? How cruel would it be, to leave them like this? But, if you don’t, you’ll be suffering forever…

His toes curl around the ledge. He leans toward the sky.

There must be a way to stop the voices…

Greg: Jimmy! What are you doing?!

Jimmy: Just go home, Greg! You don’t understand what I’m going through, okay?

Greg: You’re right! Nobody else can possibly understand how dark it gets, in that head of yours.

Jimmy: …exactly. I’m alone in here. (*Clenching his teeth) Except these goddamned voices. I gotta stop the voices, Greg!

Greg:  Listen to me, Jimmy. It’s the disease talking. You’ve got a disease, just like cancer. You’re not thinking–

Jimmy:  (*screaming) Oh believe me! I’m thinking! Thinking is all I do!  I’m awake thinking All. Night. Long. I can’t get any rest.  (trailing off*) ..I just need some rest… I only want rest.

Greg:  I have no idea what you’re going through, Jim.  I mean, I’ve struggled with hopelessness before, but never that bad.  I can’t pretend to understand…

Jimmy:  (sniffling*) So you don’t blame me, then? You don’t think I’m being selfish out here?

Greg:  Of course not, Jimmy!!! What a horribly judgmental thing to say. Suicide is not selfish or cowardly or the easy way out. People only stigmatize suicide because they don’t understand mental illness.

Jimmy:  Exactly! I’m stuck in this broken mind! This is the only choice I have left, Greg! It’s the only choice I have left…  (he leans toward the open air*) …but I just can’t stop thinking about my mom. And my sister. And my dog.  What will this do to them, Greg?!

Greg:   That’s the problem, Dude…  You’re always trying to be strong for others. Nobody knows what you’re going through except YOU.  Why do you worry what we think?

Jimmy:  I just don’t want their final memory of me to be weakness.

Greg: No, depression and anxiety are not a sign of weakness. They just prove that you’ve tried to remain strong for too long.

Jimmy:  That’s right.  Too long is right.  And I won’t keep pushing a day longer…  (he starts to lean out again*)

Greg: (looking upset, but remaining still*)  I think people should be free to live or die as they choose.  If you jump, it wouldn’t be “selfish” or “wrong.”

*Jimmy steps off the ledge and falls*

Greg: (*calling over the edge*)  You’re free, Jimmy!

You’re free.

——

If we wouldn’t say this stuff to somebody on the ledge, why do we say it after they’re gone? 

Psychiatry–A Western Sacred Cow

I’ve been ruminating on a post about psychiatry for a long time, and I still don’t know how to tackle it.

The brain.

The mind.

It’s hard enough to fathom that our brains are able to think about themselves… but when you understand that sometimes those same brains malfunction, and you want to sort out the difference between good, “normal” brains and bad, “broken” ones, it’s even more complicated…

How do we know when our brains aren’t working?  How will we know if/when they’re fixed?  Where do we even begin to define “normal” in the first place?

Countless books have been written on brain-science, and I’ve read a fair number of them.  I could talk for hours about Mind Theories and Psychology–yet I still struggle to share anything specific…

Why?

…because I’ve noticed mental illness is a major area in which my fellow Americans are NOT open for discussion.  

The large majority of people expect a very specific script of things said about brain disorders.  And if you say anything else, you will be considered “ignorant” or even guilty of “causing harm” to those suffering.

Here are a few things you’re allowed to say, without getting into trouble:

-Mental illness is a disease, just like cancer.

-It’s not a choice, not a sign of weakness, and we cannot blame the mental illness on the individual.

-If you are experiencing depression, you should seek professional help.

There may be one or two other “safe” points, but those are the biggies.

Unfortunately, I’d like to move beyond these statements, to the deeper truths, and I don’t feel at liberty to do so.

I’m not saying I disagree with the cliche bullets, exactly.  I just think brain function (and the treatment we use to correct it) is more complicated than that.  Unlike tumors, which we can see on a scan, or a fractured bone, which shows up on X-rays, it’s not easy to describe mental disorders.

In fact, if we’re being honest, even the most up-to-date expert knows very little about the human mind.

—–

For several years, I’ve been researching theories on The Brain–and thinking about its relationship with spiritual things, all the while knowing I could easily get myself diagnosed with depression (or even bi-polar disorder), if I trusted psychiatry as much as the average person…

My grandfather, by the way, has been a Manic Depressive since Bipolar Disorder was called “Manic Depression” in the early-80’s.

And I finally accepted a prescription for Zoloft after my son was born, when my Postpartum Depression/Anxiety spiraled to the point of Googling “Do suicide victims go to Heaven?”  I was getting less than 2 hours of sleep each night for weeks, unable to rest between senseless panic attacks and mind-whirling question about how and why a Christian girl could still experience such fear/hopelessness.

All of these things lead me to read and listen and study and journal, in an attempt to better understand my mind and soul. But I haven’t been able to hit “post” on any of my ramblings…

Until now…

…when suddenly mental illness is thrust into the spotlight again, and everybody discusses depression and suicide in the light of what happened this week.

Suddenly, I know what I need to say about psychiatry in our culture (and the reason I haven’t said more already)… The death of Robin Williams has proven there are several things you CAN’T say about mental illness:

-You can’t say mental illness is both physical and spiritual.  Never mind that all of life is both physical and spiritual.  Humans ARE spirits, temporarily housed in flesh to go through the Time Phase of existence. The majority of “reality” happens in the metaphysical world, beyond our eyes/ears/hands.

But you are not allowed to acknowledge the spiritual connection, in front of somebody struggling with depression.  They may think you’re calling them sinful and feel more guilty. Just stick to the script and leave spirituality alone.

-You can’t say that mentally-ill folks still have choices.   This goes for both “religious” and “non-religious” people.  Apparently, (as Christians) we don’t realize that saying people have no choice means God is making them be crazy…and kill a bunch of people in a school….and/or take their own life.

We believe in free-will except when it comes to depression and suicide. If you suggest that somebody with depression still has the responsibility to choose for himself/herself, you will be lambasted by the public.  (That’s why Matt Walsh is taking heat right now.)

You can’t say suicide is a selfish choice.   In fact, repeat after me: suicide is not a selfish choice.  …even though yes it IS a selfish choice.  It’s the ultimate self-saving decision.   You’re NOT thinking about the family you leave behind. You’re NOT giving the Holy Spirit a voice.

Believing in the “selfishness” of suicide majorly impacted my decision to stay on earth and keep fighting. But we’re told you can’t say “That’s selfish,” unless you want to make the depressed person feel worse.  

Of course, most depressed people will tell you they can’t feel worse than they already do, but don’t think about it too much.

You’re not a professional. Just stick to the script.

—–

Thus, I’ve kept quiet about the many, many things I’ve been processing the last few years, because I don’t want to deal with the culture that attaches so many “rules” to the topic. If I question the wrongs things, it will be assumed automatically that my battle with depression isn’t as severe as Robin Williams’ battle was.

I’ll be told I just don’t understand.

There are hundreds of things I’ve learned about myself and about God, as I’ve fought.  But I’ll keep ruminating for now.  I find the treatment of Matt Walsh (and others who ask honest, philosophical questions) to be appalling and hypocritical.   But I’ll keep searching for the best way to explain my observations…

It’s important to tread carefully around the witch-doctors and the giant, jeweled cow.

Since I Opened This Can of Worms Already…

Now that Mark Driscoll has been suspended by his church organization and asked to step down as head pastor of Mars Hill, I guess I need to write one final post on this subject.

It started for me when somebody shared Rachel Held Evans’ diatribe about the “shocking” and “disturbing” things Mark Driscoll said 15 years ago. But, when I read the quotes and felt neither shock nor disturbance, I wrote about it here.

I genuinely wanted to hear from people who are upset by Driscoll’s opinions so they can answer for me:  Is it what he said, or how he said it?

So far, nobody has explained; which actually concerns me even more…

I’ll be honest, the whole controversy makes me uneasy because it’s not hard to imagine myself saying things very similar to what Mark Driscoll has been lambasted for saying.  It’s a bit terrifying to wonder what would happen to me, if I had a bigger circle of influence and suddenly said something my readers found distasteful…

Would they accuse ME of “hurting people”?

Demand I get counseling?

Take my job and my community and my family, because I don’t conform to their idea of Church?

—-

Some people are okay with Mark Driscoll’s beliefs, but they think his delivery is all wrong.

On the other hand, some people find his very basic principles to be hateful and dangerous. (Rachel Held Evans said:  “…[Driscoll’s controversial] words were written nearly 14 years ago… but what they reveal is the ugly heart behind Driscoll’s continued teachings — the workings of his troubled mind…”)

What concerns me is the fact that Driscoll’s “continued teachings” (his principle ideas) are part of the same foundation that most conservatives have.  He talks about the different strengths and roles of men and women. The unnaturalness of homosexual activity, etc. etc.

It matters whether Americans are angry about Driscoll’s methods or his beliefs, because his beliefs are more-or-less the same as mine.

I started reading what people are saying, now that Driscoll’s entire life is crumbling under the weight of social disapproval.  And here are some of the things I found…

Underneath this HuffPo article:

“Now the government should label [Mars Hill] a cult. Yes, all religion is a cult, but Driscoll and his bunch are beyond the regular religious cult. He is a dangerous man, his ‘truth’ is dangerous to those that follow him.”

“So [the church] booted him out of the club for saying mean things about them under a false name…? Certainly reason to remove him from the club, but I am not sure why all the fuss. It isn’t like any of them is particularly nice…”

On Jezebel:

“I wouldn’t be welcome to serve in Driscoll’s church. I’m openly gay and in a longterm gay relationship. Guys like him frighten me. He perverts the gospel to protect a power and privilege God didn’t necessarily affirm… I think we’ve seen this situation play out before. Powerful ‘CEO’-style religious man surrounds himself with yes-men, neuters systemic boundaries that would check abusive behaviors and — hurts people. Often women and children. Most often using sexual assault and coercion…Repent, Mr. Driscoll. Publicly and effusively. I’m weary of your kind, hurting people in the name of petty power politics wrapped in a pumped-up warrior Jesus.”

“Ultimately, I am an atheist because I am a feminist. I rejected religion, and eventually God, because there was no way to be religious and equal. There isn’t unless, of course, you ignore some key bits of the Bible, including the origin myth of Adam and Eve.”

There were huuuuuundreds of comments like this.

The vocal critics everywhere absolutely insist that Mark Driscoll has “hurt people” with his extreme, unfair teaching about leadership/submission and same-sex marriage.  They call it abuse and compare him with sexual abusers.

And still, the Christian community believes we need to reprimand Driscoll publicly, so the world can see that we don’t tolerate “abuse” in our ranks?  It’s silliness.

I promise, the world would believe Driscoll is “misogynistic” and “homophobic” and “abusive” no matter how he shared his views. Our culture basically hates everything in the Bible except two words: judge not.

There are lots of people (even some who call themselves Christian) who believe Driscoll deserves to be fired due to his very basic beliefs about God, men/women, and sexuality.  There is no way he could have expressed himself “nicely” enough to get Atheist Liberals to listen.

——

In summary, there are lots of people who have a problem with Driscoll’s church discipline system, and with all the authority he holds at Mars Hill church.  So let me just clarify there’s NO ARGUMENT HERE, on that point…

Except, I think all “lead pastors” have too much authority.

Have you read my post about the role of the professional ministers?  I believe ALL churches have been misguided, to give the pulpit to the same individual week after week after week. If we’re all priests, we should stop electing special front-men to do the ministering and decision-making for us…

So, technically, I agree that Mark Driscoll has too much power. Perhaps it really did travel to his head.

But, if we’re going to criticize him now, we have a whole lot more churches to fix in the next few years, once we’re finished deconstructing Mars Hill.  (Like, basically all of our churches.)

Furthermore, (and most importantly) I’m not convinced Mark Driscoll “hates women” or “hates gays.”  So, I certainly don’t agree he has abused people for decades.  (By the way, I think “abuse” might be the most abused word in the English language.)

If Jesus were in Dricoll’s shoes 14 years ago, I don’t know how he would have talked to that group of angry feminists, in the anonymous chat room. But, I am NOT prepared to say, “He’d be kind and gentle the whole time.”  Maybe he would shock people with His terms and analogies?

Occasionally  Jesus surprises me.

Either way, I’m very concerned with how much the Church is being influenced by its easily-offended culture.  It’s possible Driscoll really did lose his marbles. Maybe he really DOES need to spend a few months, talking it out with a gentle-voiced woman in an over-stuffed chair, because he really DOES need to repent of hurting people with his sermons.

Or maybe we’re exaggerating a little.

I’m just saying that our culture makes it’s very difficult to tell the difference between a hate-filled nut-case who needs help…and just a guy with traditional, Christian values who refuses to apologize for it.

The World refers to both groups as hateful and harmful.

Bullies and Babies

We all know bullies exist.

If we didn’t firmly believe they exist (and that they can kill people) then we wouldn’t launch all these cultural campaigns to stop bullying.

But I want to talk about the other extreme–the kids who claim they’re being bullied all the time. Is there such thing as being overly-sensitive anymore?

At some point in the past, if you cried “he hurt me!” too much, you developed a reputation as a cry-baby.

Has that term gone out of style, now that we’ve built a culture where All Feelings Must Be Validated?  Are some of the cases of “bullying” or even “abuse” just the victim being petty? (Or maybe “petty” is something a bully would say? …Oops.)

—–

As an adult, I’ve been accused of bullying a time or two.  My strength is in my words, so I might gain power over somebody who doesn’t express herself as well as I do.

Maybe this is my own version of preying on the weak.

But I know what it’s like to feel helpless, while somebody more powerful and popular exposes your insecurities.  I’ve had my buttons pushed by people intending to wound, knowing exactly which sensitive areas to cut.

This was me–when I first started caring about hair and makeup…

Awkward Years

Nothing goes with a sleep-shirt and bad haircut quite like cherry red lipstick.

 

 

Yikes

Come on, Young Amanda. Smile! Show us your metal-clad teeth! 🙂

 

You might find this hard to believe. But, at the time, I didn’t exactly ooze self-confidence with my physical appearance.  The braces…the round, bright-red cheeks…  Like many people, I slammed face-first into the “Awkward Years.”

And, because he was a pretty typical little brother, Tim and his friends made fun of me whenever they got the chance.

“You’re fat and ugly!”

“What are you even WEARING?”

“Nobody likes you!”

He could be pretty mean.

If there’s somebody who should be on board with the Anti-Bullying campaigns, it’s me…a recovering victim. In fact, whenever I told my mother about the awful things Tim said to me, he and his friends would roll their eyes and call me a tattle-tale or a crybaby.

They did what they could to make me feel guilty for seeking help, which is a common abuse technique.

You would think I relate to the kids dealing with bullies at school and that I would do anything in my power to stop bullying…

and I might…

…except, Adult-Me needs to be honest: I WAS being a cry-baby!  Now that I’m grown, I can admit I cried “bully” intentionally. On purpose. Because I knew what to say to parents/teachers, to get my brother punished, and I relished in that power.

Read that again. Crying and tattling was my way of getting power.

Bullies may be stronger; they may have physical power and popularity to add to their “weight.”  But babies have their voices–and the squeaky wheel gets oiled by the authorities. I’m afraid Anti-Bully Campaigns are only targeting one half of the problem.

When I taught preschool, we constantly had to referee between the tough, violent kids and the loud, sensitive ones.  CONSTANTLY. It was exhausting, just trying to sort out who caused each tiff.

Now, if All Feelings Must Be Validated and “pettiness” isn’t a thing, then fights are easy to judge.   Bullies are always wrong. Period.

But, it seemed to me that every conflict boiled down to brains vs. brawn. I couldn’t accept that justice was served, by only punishing the tougher kid and letting the whiner go free.

First of all, babies and bullies are drawn to each other like magnets.  (Why couldn’t the bullies go tussle in a corner together, while the babies gather in their own group to read?  I don’t know. It just doesn’t work that way.)

On the surface, the bullies were guilty of breaking classroom rules, by doing scary or mean things to the smaller students. But I usually discovered those small little foxes were walking around looking for the chance to say, “Teacher, he hit me agaaaaaain!”

One child is clearly over-aggressive. One is intentionally over-sensitive.

There are TWO ways to solve each verbal dispute, but our culture only holds the bullies accountable.

Unfortunately, I think school systems are getting lazy, which is the reason for disciplining the kid who kicks or hits or calls names and ignoring the sneakier ones. The result is giving the full power of the law to anybody who claims to be hurt.  (The rule at the daycare was, “You hit, you sit.” Zero tolerance.)

It’s not as easy to write a list of rules to keep the babies from manipulating their teacher’s sympathy. So half the trouble-makers get away with their misdeeds, even though the ones who misuse the force of their fists aren’t more evil than the ones who take advantage of the Force of Law.  

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Do you have any experience with kids (or adults) who claim to be bullied because it gets results?  What are some potential consequences of teaching kids that bullying is always wrong, but not educating them about being too sensitive?  (Or is there such a thing as “too sensitive”?)