Would you ever give your child permission to use violence? Would you ever tell your kid that it was OK to punch or push another kid? Of course most of us would automatically answer no. Why would we ever want to encourage violence? Especially when one of the top concerns in our minds is bullying, right? But, before you say no, let me give you an example.
I witnessed this event a few months ago when visiting a friend. We were sitting in her sun-room with a view of the backyard. A group of kids from the neighborhood were all playing together outside. All seemed to be going well, but then we noticed something wasn’t quite right between her son and another neighborhood boy (both age 9) …
We could tell they were arguing and suddenly the neighbor aggressively pushed her son to the ground. We saw the other kids standing with their mouths open not quite knowing what to do or say. Her son stood up at the same time we stood up to go outside. Before we even got to the door the neighbor had pushed him much harder for a second time and got right in his face. My friend’s son swung his fist into the neighbor’s arm.
When we got to the backyard the neighbor immediately ran away while the other kids crowded in to make sure my friend’s son was OK. He sat there in shock not knowing if he should cry, run or scream. He finally did begin to cry and apologized profusely to his mom explaining that he didn’t mean to punch the neighbor but that he was scared and didn’t know what else to do.
From that point, my friend brought her son inside, made sure he was OK, and then discussed the situation. Come to find out, this was not the first time the neighborhood kid had pushed or bullied her son. I sat and watched my friend calmly tell her son that in their family, violence is not permitted. She gave him a speech that could have won an Academy Award and I was so proud of her parenting skills. At the end, after all was said and done, she looked him in the eye and said, “After all I have told you I want you to know that I would normally never condone this type of behavior, but on this day, during that instance with that child, I am proud of you for standing up for yourself and you made the right decision.”
So what do you think? Do you agree? What would you have told your child to do? What if this had happened when there were no parents around to call for help?
This is a situation that is very serious and I am sure happens all the time. It’s tough to raise children (especially boys) to not use violence, but also not to let yourself get bullied or walked all over. So what is the answer? I would love to hear your opinions today!