Thursday, 29 July 2010


A friend of mine, Redhead Writer, asked the question:

What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?

This is a tough question to answer. I have had to learn so many lessons in my life. They are all equally important. Maybe I should just grab onto one of them and share it here.

It’s really a two part lesson. One is the importance of being true to yourself and who you are, and the other is about having the courage to stand up for what you believe in and for others who don’t have the strength to stand up for themselves.

This lesson was learned when I was about twelve years old. I was in junior high, and I was waiting for the school bus after school. There was a small group of children with mental disabilities who were also waiting for their school bus a little ways away from me. Two other students, rather large boys, started picking on one of the small group. They were really brutal, yelling at him, shoving him, calling him names like “retard” and “stupid.” And he looked really afraid. He didn’t seem to know what was going on or why they were doing that to him.

I was shocked and horrified by what was happening, but I was too timid and unsure of myself to go over and do anything to stop what was happening. I was afraid, and I was weak. Even sadder was the fact that there were so many other students around me who also were just standing and watching and not doing anything to put a stop to what was going on.

A girl who had been walking past from the high school over the road from us came over to the two bullies and started really telling them off. She shouted at them and let them know how little they looked in her eyes because of what they were doing. And like true bullies, they scurried off rather than standing up to her.

I was so relieved and glad that she had stopped them. I also felt ashamed. I knew, watching her, that I should have done what she did. I should have stood up to them. The boy they were picking on was confused and unable to help himself in the situation. I knew what they were doing was wrong, and I should have stopped them. My very nature told me to put a stop to it, but my fear and lack of self-confidence prevented me from helping.

I knew then that I would never stand back again. I would stand up for others who couldn’t stand up for themselves, and I would stand up for myself too.

My parents taught me right from wrong and that being kind to others was a good thing. They taught me empathy. I was a confident child. It wasn't until my preteen years that peer pressure and other influences started to erode that confidence.

I don't want that same confidence-erosion to occur with my own children. I want them to be strong and to stand up for themselves and for their beliefs.

So what can we, as parents, do to help our children maintain their confidence despite all of the hormonal changes they will go through when they reach a certain age, despite the often negative influences from their peers, and despite all of the other pitfalls and obstacles that can be foound in the world outside of our families?

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