There’s a very powerful video on YouTube, featuring a kid named Jonah. This video is going viral, stirring quite a reaction in people.
I’m one of them. I haven’t stopped thinking about Jonah since I viewed the video this morning.
I’m a mother of two kids; one boy and one girl. I want the best for them, and I don’t mean material best. I’m referring to happiness in life. I want that more than anything for them.
I want them to know who they are and to be proud of that. I want them to feel good about their efforts, even if it doesn’t win them first place. I want them to follow their passions and to feel exhilarated – not ashamed – of the journey! I want them to know what it feels like to be flawed and yet fully loved by family and friends, and I equally want them to know the joy of sacrificing for others.
I want to give them the best odds for success in life, and so I teach them about leadership. And doing what’s right. And faith. And service. And kindness.
But sometimes I feel like I’m in the minority. Bigtime. And my kids feel it sometimes too.
You see, I watched this video and I thought about how many campaigns I’ve seen against bullying. I’ve seen the commercials, the celebrities speaking out, the “how to spot the signs” education for parents. It’s all good and important and worth your time…but…
How many parents, coaches, pastors, youth workers, counselors will watch this video and talk to their kids about their words and actions? Everyone’s worried about “what if it happens to me or someone in my family?” We’re all playing defense.
Does it occur to adults that someone’s kid is doing the bullying? And it might be yours or a kid you know? (And you can help stop it!)
How many adults will talk to their children about the power of words? Do you discuss the negative impact of name-calling, teasing, ostracizing and laughing at others’ expense? Do you explain that it can be hard to bounce back and that sometimes those effects can cause kids to cry, get depressed or, God forbid, take their own lives. Do you describe the weight of the guilt they could feel, or the school and legal ramifications they could face if something harmful should result? It’s a reality these days, and kids need to know that their bullying can have major consequences.
I don’t see it happening. And it needs to change.
I was told recently by someone in my own neighborhood that I “just need to understand children – especially boys. They look for the weakest one, and they go after him. It’s just how kids are.”
You know what? I don’t buy it. I don’t believe that babies come out of the womb with a survival of the fittest instinct. Our ability to think, to process information, to have feelings and emotions, to rationalize – – that’s what separates us from animals. So, I’m not accepting this. Not for second.
We live in a competitive world. I get that.
I see parents pushing their kids to be the best at everything they do. I see them holding their kids back to be bigger and better in sports. I see the trainers and tutors being hired; not because their kids need help, but because they’re being pushed to be in the “elite.” I see kids totally stressed out and not having a clue what “downtime” or imaginative free play or a neighborhood pick-up game is like. (Those, by the way, are my best memories of my childhood!)
Parents are pushing their kids hard and fast. But where is the push for character, integrity and values?
I keep laughing that I’m the “crazy lady” who is screaming as my kids run out the door. I yell be kind, thoughtful and encouraging! Our house rule is that if what you’re about to say or do can’t fall into one of those three buckets, it’s not worth saying or doing. Of course, they’re kids, and they’re not perfect, but I figure if I keep trying and repeating, it will sink in.
In addition, this is also posted on our refrigerator.
We have an opportunity – NO, it’s a responsibility – as parents and as adults.
It’s up to us to teach our children. To guide them, and to show them what being a great leader looks like…and it’s not about domination, degradation and defiance.
Leadership is about value – you acknowledging and engaging the value in others, and them willingly following you for the value you bring to them. At any age, and in any position in life – this is leadership.
We are all different. We all have value. We are all needed for what we bring to the table, and we CANNOT all be alike. Diversity is what makes life beautiful. Diversity is what makes companies smarter and more successful. It takes all of us to succeed and to make life work.
Who is willing to teach their kids this lesson? Who is willing to love their children, even if they choose not to be “perfect” in your eyes? Who is willing to demonstrate love and acceptance and ask that their children follow their lead? Who would be willing to apply ramifications for anything otherwise?
I will. Will you stand with me in the hopes to make a change? Our kids and our next generation of leaders is depending on us.
Today, we are the ones with the power to influence and to set the example. It’s up to us, and so I ask you…will you take this on with me? Will you fight for the lives of all of our children? Will you fight for what’s right? Because, we live in a competitive world, and it will take all of us…
Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker. Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life.