"So, yeah, Mom... We need to pray for Sally.* Yup, she's getting bullied now," my daughter announced one day getting into the car after school. "Someone else told me that an anonymous person is leaving harsh, nasty notes in her locker."
I was heartened by my girl's sensitivity for another child, until she copped an attitude proclaiming next, "NOW everybody thinks it's a big deal. I've been bullied for years and nobody cares, but now that popular kids are starting to be targets, the other kids thinks it's getting out of hand!"
For those of you who don't live with an child who has Asperger's, you are missing out on the matter-of-fact, black-and-white thinking that is typically a hallmark of this disorder. Also lacking is the ability to put oneself in another's shoes. It can be either tremendously frustrating or subtly entertaining to watch this at times.
THIS was one of those entertaining times, not because bullying is funny, but because my daughter's unvarnished statement was so blatantly and boldly true.
Ironically, perhaps that is why we are SO outrageously sinful when it comes to obeying "The Golden Rule". We are great with outrage when we watch others misbehave or find ourselves wronged. Yet, we stink when it comes to putting ourselves in someone else's shoes.
Too often, we think other kids are being overly-sensitive when they feel threatened or bullied by our child. On the other hand, we declare them to be insensitive and evil when our child feels threatened or bullied by them.
Perhaps the culture of mistreatment might turn around if both school children and adults alike stopped long enough to ponder, "How would I like to be treated if that were me?"
Sadly, we are all pretty proficient at looking at what we want, what we think is important, hyper-focusing on our own point of view, while we grossly neglect how it might feel to be the other guy. We all know that kids with special needs are more likely to be victims of bullying. However, do we ever take the time to consider that the kid who is doing the bullying might have some sort of troubles as well? Or, why do the parents of "typical" kids find themselves so shocked when their kids are the victims? If they had ever stopped to show concern for those they so often marginalize, perhaps their shock wouldn't be as great.
Please forgive my opinionated pondering. This situation my daughter described just got me thinking about how Jesus would be shaking his head at all of us right now. Thank God he continues to give us chance after chance despite our failure to obey his mandate. Still, that doesn't mean we shouldn't aspire to more.
PRAY: Lord, by the power Your Holy Spirit, break us of our narcissism, and help us to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Only with Your help and guidance can we develop the healthy habit of treating others the way we would want to be treated.
~ Barb Dittrich
For more information and help with bullying, please connect with our friend Katie Wetherbee of HOPE Educational Consulting, LLC. She has written a hard-hitting piece on this very subject at Diving for Pearls.
*Sally's name has been changed in the interest of privacy.