For quite a while now, I’ve been hearing how our children are overly buried by stress and expectations in today’s world. Then, I remembered a CBC News report I had watched about plagiarism and cheating in college and university, and it struck me that there’s a really strong correlation here!
I wondered, are we burying our kids under heaps of stress and expectations?
Perhaps all of the stress and anxiety are placing our kids in a position where they feel they must use whatever means are available to them (good or bad) to achieve our expectations as well as those of society in general.
There are numerous things that can contribute to a child’s stress and expectations, anxiety and depression. Among them are bullying, sports and activities, education, peers, work and family.
Both Erin and Stuart have had to deal with each of these issues at different times in their lives and in different ways.
Our kids – Stuart and Erin.
Stuart was bullied unmercifully and to the point of contemplating suicide by a certain group of kids at school during his early grade school years. This group would wait just off the school grounds and ambush him as soon as he stepped off the grounds. Despite our attempts to have the school address the issue with the parents of the culprits, we were constantly told that it was not their responsibility. On one particular day, Erin and Stuart both came home in tears, with a friend, and spilled out the words in a barely discernible mish-mash, informing me that the same group had lain in wait for Stuart, and Erin had to step into the middle of the group and swing her backpack while turning in a circle to hold them off, yelling at them to go away.
This was the last straw for me and I immediately drove over to the instigator’s house and just as I approached the door a boy approached from behind the house as I was about to knock. I turned to him and asked for confirmation of his name, which he gave, and I started telling him that I did not want him and his friends attacking Stuart after school any more or I would be calling the police. His father burst through the door and started towering over me while poking at me with his finger, forcing me backwards down his driveway back to the car. At this point, I was almost in tears and got in the car, drove home and called the police.
I couldn’t have been home a half hour when a military police officer came to speak with us, and instead of listening to our story and investigating the bullying incidents, he became angry with me, telling me he had already spoken to the other boy’s parents and I was under warning that I had no business approaching the boy or his family. This after being told by the school’s principal numerous times that it wasn’t their responsibility and we needed to deal with this ourselves.
Soon after all of this, I received a message from the principal stating he was calling because he’d been receiving complaints from this bully and his parents that Erin was talking about the situation at school and he wanted it to stop. Really? He won’t do anything about the bullying and attacks, but he’ll take Erin to task for talking to her friends? All of the frustration and anger came forth in this phone call and I told the principal, “I will not tell Erin to not talk about it with her friends. As far as we’re concerned, this boy’s a bully and if he’s uncomfortable with the kids at school knowing what he does and how he behaves, that’s too bad.” …and I hung up.
We ultimately had to get counseling and other help for Stuart.
Erin’s grade school years were pretty much uneventful, but they took a turn for the worse when she began attending high school. Although her bullying wasn’t as nasty and physical, she was continually bullied by ‘mean girls’ who delighted in humiliating and ostracizing her, teaching her that she couldn’t trust female friends because her own friends took part. Her last couple of high school years were pretty miserable and she only started recovering once she graduated and found friends outside school.