Important conversations

The other day, my eleven year old came home with the school-set task of writing a speech on cyber bullying. One of the benefits of being slightly skilled with words is that one’s children deem it useful to have one read over their work; and this has the added benefit of me being very up to date on what they’re studying at school.

I was startled that at eleven, she had been shown a video of a girl who had ended her life due to cyber bullying. I was already formulating my complaint to the school, deciding which teacher to take it to first etc etc. And then, as the discussion went on, I realised how thankful I was that she had been given this assignment. It had paved the way for a great conversation on cyber bullying, its effects and sometimes tragic consequences.

It’s scary to talk about these issues; issues like suicide, self-harm, depression, eating and anxiety disorders. They make us afraid; as though talking about them and acknowledging their existence will somehow beckon them to our door. Sure, we all know in our heads that talking about these issues actually reduces the chances, but in our hearts, it’s still scary.

It’s confronting to hear these words coming out of my barely pubescent daughter’s mouth. And part of it, actually, nearly all of it, is that I don’t want her to see this ugly, awful, nasty side of life – of people. I don’t want her to be confronted with the cruelty that is cyber bullying and the devastating ramifications of it all. I want her to still believe that bad things don’t happen to good people, that “it will never happen to me” can be true, that if we just all try hard enough to get along, peace will reign. And I want to believe those things too. Oh, how desperately I want to believe them.

By the end of the conversation, we had talked about the reasons why bullies bully, why it effects some people more than others, and, importantly, what to do and how to feel if it ever happens to her. We talked about what to do if we see someone being bullied. We talked about social media, its dangers and its benefits. We talked about when to believe what someone is saying to you or about you. We talked about who to believe and who not to believe. We talked about remembering that God made us and that His opinion is the only one that matters. We talked about how hard it is to remember that sometimes. We talked. And we talked.

What started out as a conversation about an assignment, became one of  the most important conversations we will have.

And the real kicker at the end?

“I love talking to you, Mum. Especially about things like this that really matter.”

Some conversations are hard to have; have them anyway.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Important conversations

  1. This is wonderful Susannah. I’m glad you had this conversation and apparently your daughter is too. It is hard to start these conversations, but they must be had. Last weekend I had a brief conversation while at the mall with my two grands about “strangers” and they told me what they would do – it was a relief that they knew what to do, even though they are just 7 and 9.

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    • Thanks Karen 🙂

      Yes, that was the other thing I loved…she had such wisdom and insight about the whole topic. It is such a relief when you realise they know stuff – like your grandsons! 🙂

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  2. Your daughter is blessed to have a mom who “gets it” and keeps communication lines open. I taught middle school for years — before social media was a major factor — and I was often floored by how cruel children are to each other. So many television shows and movies glorify people behaving unkindly and disrespectfully to others; young people grow up thinking this is normal. It is sad. And frightening.

    This is a powerful piece.

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    • Thanks Natine. I do try to keep those communication lines open with all my kids and over the years, it really has produced some wonderful conversations that I hope have made a difference in their lives. They’ve certainly made a difference to mine. Kids know so much and often I’m the one who comes away blessed and enlightened.

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