A Mother's Day Hope
All around us today people are celebrating moms, and deservedly so. Whether mothers are fortunate enough to choose to stay at home with their children or work outside the home as mine did, they command our respect and our thanks. These are the people, along with dads, who shape our values, our work ethic and our beliefs.
With that in mind, I want to take a moment to plead with moms to add one more thing to that endless -- and often thankless -- list of tasks they perform. Please, please pay attention to the way your children are treated at school and elsewhere and to the way they treat others.
I ask this in light of this week's revelation that presidential hopeful Mitt Romney may have been involved in a bullying incident way back in high school. I have no way of knowing whether he was or he wasn't, what his intentions or thoughts may have been about the other boy, or whether any of it matters in his bid to become president. What I do know and what I was appalled by were the comments of a few of his classmates easily dismissing the incident as nothing more than foolish hijinks.
That, in a nutshell, is how bullying becomes permissible. It is too readily overlooked as hijinks, dismissed as kids being kids, a rite of passage. Meanwhile some child begins to dread school, doubt his or her self-worth and pays with a lifetime of pain. That is not okay. It's not acceptable. It's not just hijinks! And the adults who think it is need to take another look at the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Tormenting another human being isn't cute. It isn't laughable as one of the Romney defenders seemed to find it when shown on a national newscast. And it needs to stop.
I'm especially sensitive to this issue because it's the focus of my August Sweet Magnolias release, Catching Fireflies. I've read too many news accounts of young people whose lives have been destroyed by bullying, heard of too many suicides committed by those who couldn't take it any longer. It breaks my heart each and every time.
So moms, as you bask in today's praise from your kids, do them one more favor. Teach them that bullying is wrong...and keep a close eye out to assure that they're not victims, either. Until every adult can look back on a childhood free of bullying, all moms still have work to do.