Marshmallow Generation

Posted: November 9, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I just saw a friend on facebook post about Madonna “speaking out” against teen bullying.
Background.. I was a bully target since I first stepped through the doors of a school building as a child. So I have a personal perspective here.
What I wonder with the new spotlight over the years on teen bullying is.. do we hear more about it because of teen internet access? more media? or is it really worse than ever? and if it is.. why? could it be because they have been bubble wrapped since birth?
When I was growing up, parents did not walk their kids to school. Our baby sitters, was the fear of our parents finding out we did something wrong, or if we were “lucky” we were just dropped off at a mall to terrorize some place outside of (our parents) realm.
Seatbelts, ha. Airbags, nope. Outlet plugs, cabinet locks.. or any form of baby-proofing… nope, it was “go ahead stick your finger in that outlet”, or “touch the stove”. “Don’t come crying to me”. “Go ahead, see what happens”. That is how I grew up.
Now, red ink is too traumatic. Everyone needs and award, just for being there.
So the bubble wrapping is not just physical it emotional.
Is the bullying worse? Or are kids today unable to handle anything besides kisses, hugs, adoration, and awards for nothing? Or could it be a backlash to the coddling?
My parents did not defend me, they believed you should take care of yourself (later they resented my independence). While it sure would have been nice to know someone was on my side, and I had some place safe… it is really true, what does not kill us, makes us stronger.
I still think there could and should be a happy medium. That parents should not and do not need to hover over their kids like they are their shadow.. but they should not be so disconnected, they do not even know what their child looks like (yes that is one of my personal scenarios).
Why is everything one extreme or the other.. why is it so impossible for people to find the balance between not cutting the umbilical cord, to drop & run after giving birth.

  1. Katie says:

    I spent most of my childhood with a bully target on my back. I must admit, it would have been nice for a teacher to have had a talk with the bullies. Instead, they were just happy it wasn’t racially motivated (think 70’s desegragation).

    And, yes, it has affected me, even in adulthood.

    But, bullies today never leave. The kids can “get it” at school, but then it now follows them home, and into their bedrooms. I can’t imagine how much harder growing up would have been for me, if the bullies had access 24/7. Now, they do. They attack at home, on the web, and they are vicious.

    I don’t know if the actual bullying has gotten worse. Or if it is just too many parents that either don’t have the time, actually encourage the behavior, or think that their precious child would never do anything wrong. It is amazing that so many parents hover these days, yet so few of them actually discipline.

    Coddling laws – bike helmets – egad. Come on, the best way to learn to not bike stupidly was your first header over the handbars. Pain is a great teacher. Now, you see stupid moves being made, but because they are padded, they do not experience the ramifications.

    Yesterday, my oldest (10) had hordes of homework. But, I had to pick up her sisters from school. So, instead of leaving her at home to start her homework, I had to drag her to school to pick up the sisters. Now, when I was young, my brother and I were “latchkey” kids at ages 8 and 10. We knew the rules (no stoves, ovens, leaving the house, answering the door). And we knew that a neighbor would probably report any misbahavior. But, my state has a law that states that no child under 12 can be left alone in the house. TWELVE!! Heck, I was babysitting other people’s children at that age.

    Car seats – my parents “version” of a car seat was actually a kitchen booster seat. It was a wobbly contraption (four legs at the bottom) whose sole purpose in the car was to let the kids see out the window (so that we would have something to see). Since there were no back seat seat belts, we were precariously perched on the back seat – and look, we survived!!

    Or how about no drawstrings on kids’ hoodies? Now there is no way to make those things stay on their heads.

    Or – no dodge ball. Egad, the feelings that are hurt playing dodge ball. And I look at dodge ball as a learning experience. You can learn to gang up on a particularly good player. You learn to look out for the kid whose throw really stings. You learn, that even if you can’t throw well, you can dodge or catch and still win….

    And now they are removing the swingsets in many playgrounds. Little kids get hurt. Boo Hoo. They were jumping from swings (oh the horror). In my day, you just learned how far/high you could jump without breaking a limb. Or, kids are being hurt by the swingers. In my day, you just learned to pay attention. I’m sure any playground moniter would faint if they heard that my elem school had “swingset tag”, where you had a line of kids swinging, and a group of kids who ran between the swinging kids. Object was to get across, if you were a runner. Object of the swining kid was to kick a runner….

    he he. good times.

  2. gypsytda69 says:

    Katie, welcome… and thank you, great comment!

    definitely have to wonder about the parents who allow bullies to be that way, but I do not expect it is much different from when we grew up. I had one bully from elementary school, who I ended up sending to the hospital when I had enough.. he was further beaten by his father for being beaten up by a girl. Sadly so much of it developed at home. My parents were pissed that my brothers & myself did not fight back… my mother herself was a bully when she was growing up. Some people actually have the mentality of get them before any one thinks about getting you.

    So no doubt it does start at home. And encouraged.

    But the other side of that is the parent of the child being bullied, are they making matters worse too? How much access do they permit their child to have to the internet? Do they monitor any of that activity. Do they talk to their kid about bullies, do they help the kid in handling what is happening? Or are they just running interference, and yet expecting the school to take care of things?

    It sometimes takes a community to make a bully. So a community does have control too….

    latchkey, i had been one since I was 4 years old, i was the youngest and was responsible for the key & my brothers. And yet now, gov’t nanny rules dictate how a parent should parent.. surely because they do so darn well at running this country (into the ground).

    And there are extremes of latch key kids.. your situation of leaving for a matter of moments to pick up your other kids, while your very able & responsible 10 year old surely can survive.. vs the type I grew up with, that sadly are no doubt the reason those nanny laws exist.. some parents give birth and think that is all they needed to do, they think the kids can take care of themselves (well sure, I did, but there is was somethng missing form my life, and always will be missing, kids do need parents, but they also need independence.. instead of seeing that middle ground the gov’t went with all or nothing, and parents permitted that control to happen.. and sadly you Katie were out voted).

    dodgeball.. ok now for me, the classically uncoordinated clutz that i am.. i can not dodge, catch, or throw to save my life.. i would be out of the game before it started. Was not a fan of that form of organized abuse.. so really not terribly upset over that one being gone. But again, it is a matter of extremes.. when one thread is pulled they just toss the whole blanket.. swing sets were awesome, we had ours on top of a very steep hill (there was a basket ball court below, and we were much higher then the fence around the court).. we would swing as high as possible, and jump at the highest point..

    Kids need to test limits, do stupid things, and learn form those things.. if they never get to do this, a paper cut surely will become a major trauma for them. They will end up fearing their own shadow, and never taking chances..

    Love your parents idea of a “car seat”.. mine did not bother.. most often we were in the back of a truck bed or the cargo area of a stationwagon.. sliding around, crashing into the back of a seat or window.. when the brakes were applied in a hurry (with how my folks drove, that was often). I still disagree with seat belts.. and all the other life binding that gov’t does.. that has lead us into govt controlling our health and all the decisions that go with that control.. and we will pay the price on so many levels, financially and physically..

    Again Katie.. thank you!!

  3. bob says:

    I can honestly say I was never bullied as a kid. Probably because I was one of the bigger kids, and I had a couple older brothers that probably dissuaded older kids from bullying me. Bullying to me has a physical connotation. So I don’t understand how someone can be bullied electronically. I call that teasing. I was teased a lot because I was fat. I still am and I hear the comments all the time still today, and not just from kids. But we used to have that old adage, I’m sure you are familiar with it, sticks and stones etc. Ok, maybe it’s a little PeeWee Herman-ish, but it still holds true. Kids have to get tougher. They are too thin skinned and emotional. Stand up for themselves once in awhile. If you can’t deal with it when you are young, you will grow up to be very unhappy. There’s too much of that make every kid feel good about himself garbage today. If you never feel bad about not being able to do something, you’ll never challenge yourself to get better.

    I blame a lot of the bullying today on lack of corporal punishment. The verbal dressing down the bullies get accomplishes nothing. They laugh it off like its a joke. The internet bullies should simply have their surfing and texting priviledges revoked.

    Car seats? What were they? I mean I am not even 50 yet and we had no idea what car seats were. Heck we didn’t even use seat belts! Helmets were for guys in the military, not for riding bikes. Of course we didn’t do stupid extreme stunts on our bikes like the do today. They were for riding and popping the occasional wheelie. Do they even have slides and jungle gyms on the playground these days? If you never got hurt on the playground you weren’t playing hard enough. If you were double digits in age you could stay home alone. Sure it was scary at times, but how else do you grow up? And we always had the phone for safety.

    We live now in the early days of the nanny state. They want to tell adults and kids what they can eat and drink, what you can see and read and how to play. But when there is a real problem they disappear. Or say we can’t do anything or we’ll violate the culprit’s rights. It’s disgusting.

  4. gypsytda69 says:

    Bob great comment!
    I too had older brothers, but instead of them being protection they ended up being a reason for me being beaten up as a kid. Glad you had yours for protection.

    And the “cyber bullying”.. it is extremely telling about those who have come after us (who lived with out seat belts, helmets, padding, safety gear, baby proofing, coddling, etc).. they are so soft & protected that words are their sticks & stones.

    It makes you wonder, what will follow? And how can it possibly get more pathetic.. I guess the thought police? Hey that person over there thought something mean about me? Really makes ya wonder eh?

    Wounds.. battle scars of youth.. and what does not kill ya will make you stronger. So really how will these kids survive a paper cut?

    Side thought.. home shows where the parents want carpetting for their kids to play on, because it is soft, and they won’t bruise thier soft little noggins.. do they know the horrors of.. rug burn? Quick call 9-11..

    Good Grief.. and thinking of Charlie Brown.. would a kid today watch that and wonder where the hover-parents are? Football, are they even permitted to play that? You know that kite had some pretty pointy corners, that could hurt a child. (note sarcasm). Pig Pen would he have been isolated as a bio-hazard, or would the other kids be required not to offend him? And Lucy surely would be behind bars for all the mean hurtful things she would say to Charlie. Hey how about Snoopy, no leash.. argh the horrors of Peanuts.

  5. mdebusk says:

    I was a bully target back when I was little and cute. When I hit puberty I got huge and ugly and the bullies stopped paying attention to me. Meeting up with one of them later in college was a pleasure.

    Bullying was a horror. I can understand a kid going to school with a weapon. If there’s a way to stop it, I say get it done.

    As I understand it, the root cause of bullying is having been bullied. If thats true, stopping it at one generation stops it for good.

    The problem is in differentiating bullying from hazing. Most people can’t tell the difference, so they adopt a “zero tolerance” approach. That just changes who’s doing the bullying.

  6. gypsy says:

    Aww Mike you are little & cute (sorry I am having an adorable cartoon image in my mind now).. but I know whatcha mean..

    i had several encounters where kids who beat me up, I met up with those bullies years later, and scared the crap out of them, with out trying.

    It is amazing what a few years does eh?

    One of my brothers was the scrawny weakling, now he breaks bones in Brazilian Jui Jitzu. (not sure on spelling sorry).. My other brother was a Marine.. my father was a walking nose, and became a boxer, body builder & Marine.

    and those scenarios are not unique.. often the once cute little guy, often ends up being the person who could snap others like a twig. History benefits all eh?

  7. mdebusk says:

    As workplace bullying is one of the things I’m tasked with preventing, I’ve done a lot of thinking about it over the years. What I’ve concluded is that we can’t stop bullying by targeting the bullies. We have to take away their victims.

    It’s very un-PC to say so, but since we’re supposed to say such things here: bullies are predators, and predators do not strike at random; they seek out the weakest member of the herd and they attack that one. They don’t want a fight, they want food. So if a person is being bullied, he or she is giving off signals that say “I can be bullied.” To stop bullying, we have to start teaching our kids how to walk, talk, move, and think like people whom a bully will pass over.

  8. bob says:

    Let me see if I understand what you wrote. You can’t get rid of the bullies in the workplace? Does that mean if you fire one, another will take his place as long as there is a “willing victim” still working there? I’m not sure I agree with that.

    I do agree with the second part, though. People need to stand up to bullies. It starts with the kids. Just like Andy taught Opie to do.

  9. mdebusk says:

    @Bob: Do you honestly not see a difference between “getting rid of a particular bully” and “ending the phenomenon of bullying”?

    The topic of the thread is the latter. OF COURSE if someone is identified to be a bully, it is the smart thing to do to get rid of them.

  10. gypsy says:

    What I see guys is.. unless everyone turns weak, there will always be a bully (predator as Mike says, and I think that is an excellent example) and even if everyone did turn weak, there surely would still be stronger weaklings… and if everyone were bullies, there would always be someone stronger or meaner… unless we are all cloned.

    I was thinking back to my early twenties, a gal at a shop next to mine told me of a news report where they were describing victims and those who are not victims.. she said that she felt they might as well put her photo up for the victim role, and my picture for the non-victim role.

    It is true.. we can make ourselves victims, just by how we handle ourselves. It is not always size, strength, etc.. it is confidence, and the ability to not let other people eat us alive (again turning back to Mike’s predator comment, because that is so dead on)..

    I was once a bully target.. I grew up into the one people fear just by a glance. But I also know that instinct was always there, since while I was the target for bullies I stood up for other kids being picked on (not myself, and that is still mostly the same.. I am more apt to help someone else vs myself).. i protected the weaker targets. But I think there is that natural animal element to all things, that there are those who are a target, others who attack.. and those who fall in between.

    When I was 1st on my own.. and was living where I could afford, (a bad -bad part of Baltimore).. I had reached the point of being obilivious to dangers around me.. but found there were people who would end up watching out for me,that i would normally have though would have been there to attack me.. they were protecting me.

    I do believe in the ying & yang in life.. and for weak there is strong.. etc.. that the weak need the strong, the strong need the weak.. there is something to gained by both. Those bully targets can gain by being targets.. or opt to forever be targets.. but even at that there is a point to their existance.. just as there is a point to there being the (predator) the bully.. everyone would end up being marshmallows and weak if we did not need to defend ourselves from our predators..

    So my long way to the point of saying.. I don’t believe in getting rid of the bullies either. But I do think the marshmallows need to stop being protected, they get stale.

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