Depending on second hand informaiton about our kids has now more than ever become a parenting tool we need to start taking notice of and acting upon.
We all like to think that our kids are good kids. And I’m sure that most of us do have good kids. But sometimes good kids can still do bad stuff. They can make mistakes and they can even hurt peole.
We also know kids are different around their friends than they are around their parents. Not always, but certainly sometimes. And not always worse. Just different. Do your parents know every little thing you did when you were growing up?
We also like to think we know how our kids would always behave or respond to certain situations. But sometimes they surprise us. I know I am not the only parent to have ever said “That is so unlike him” or “I never thought he would do that”.
So how does that help us if we can never be really certain of what they will do?
We can listen. We can listen to the teachers when they talk of kids getting bullied online or in the schoolyard. We can listen when another parent in the playgroung talks about a bad experiene their child has had on a social networking site. We can listen when someone tells us that our child may have been involved in a situation that started as a joke and got out of hand.
I have heard numerous accounts of parents going to other parents and having them flat out refuse to listen. “My kids would never do that”. “It must have been someone else who egged them on”. “They would have only been joking” “I have told them about not saying nasty things online so I know it wouldn’t be them”.
Certainly we would hope that schools would be able to get parties together to help resolve matters, particularly problems that arise on social media. But that is not always the case. Or more frighteningly there are often parents simply not willing to listen.
It is great to have faith in your chidren and your own child rearing abilities. However. We need to take stock and listen and use these moments as teachable moments. Whether your child has been an instigator, a participator in a conversation or even an onlooker, there is always going to be a lesson. A reminder of how easy it is to get caught up in the moment. How easy it is to get egged on by others. How easy it is to forget about being kind, even if only for a second.
So whether or not your child is involved or not, if you hear about an incident be sure to use it as a chance to discuss and to learn. If you are being told your child is involved, there is a fair chance they are or there is going to be some form of evidence, so be mindful of how you respond. Discuss other ways it could have been handled. Discuss where it went wrong. Listening to what is going on around you and your kids can only help to prevent them from making mistakes later on where they have no one to defend them and the consequences may be even more damaging.