• Thu, Nov 7 - 2:00 pm ET

‘Why My Kids Are Not The Center Of My World’ Is Great, Except For The Part About Bullying

142742094There’s a pretty excellent blog post floating around by Stephanie Metz, owner of the blog entitled The Metz Family Adventures. In the post, entitled Why My Kids Are Not The Center Of My World , Stephanie says a lot of things I think most of us can agree with about child raising. She makes the argument that parents who make their kids the center of their universe aren’t doing the world any favors. She says a lot of things I can agree with, except for this one:

There was a time – not too long ago – when bullying was defined as slamming someone up against a locker and stealing their lunch money.  There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this).  Now, if Sally calls Susie a bitch (please excuse my language if that offends you), Susie’s whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feelentitled to a world-wide pity party.  And Sally – phew!  She should be jailed!  She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like – gasp – a teenage girl acts.

Whoa, whoa whoa, stop the bus there, Nelly. I can’t think of any situation where anyone has called for a teenage girl to be jailed because she called someone the B word. That’s not bullying, it’s just having bad manners. Those of us who care about bullying, who understand how bullying works in these here modern times, aren’t talking about kids just being nasty to other kids. Susie isn’t just being called a “bitch” – she is usually either bullied and relentlessly harrassed until she does take her own life. She is being drugged at a party and raped and threatened by her peers. She is the victim of racism. She is being bullied due to her sexual orientation, or her weight, or the fact that she may be a kid with special needs. That’s the sort of bullying we talk about when we talk about bullying.

Kids being nasty to each other? That has been around since before you and I were born, and both you and I probably dealt with that to some degree ourselves when we were in school. No one is calling for these kids to be thrown in a juvenile detention facility. But is it so much to ask that when we do find out our kid has called another kid a “bitch” to have them apologize? To sit down and explain to them why that is unacceptable? To teach them the golden rule? Stephanie says in her blog that:

Modern parenting and thinking makes me crazy.  The young generations of today (yes, I sound old.  I realize I’m only 29 years old.) are being taught that they shouldn’t have to ever put up with anything doesn’t make their hearts feel like rainbow colored unicorns are running around pooping skittles onto piles of marshmallows.

 

The “modern parenting” that “makes me crazy” is when a parent find out their kid has called another kid a bitch and ignores it, brushes it off as welp, kids will be kids and doesn’t stop to investigate further. The modern parenting that drives me crazy is modern parents who aren’t fully modern because they don’t understand how vastly different the world is today than it was when we were teens. When I was a teen, it was a girl calls someone a bitch. In today’s “modern world” if a girl calls someone a bitch it is because that girl was held down at a party and raped by six of her peers when she wouldn’t give one of them oral sex.

I’m all for raising strong kids that know how to stick up for themselves and understand that life isn’t always fluffy kittens and “unicorns pooping skittles” but moreso than that, I’m all about raising humans who don’t act like savages and who understand  they are expected to behave like decent humans, which means not calling someone else a bitch, for any reason. I wish we did live in a world where the worst thing our kids would face would be being called an unkind name, but us modern parents? We get that sometimes it’s a lot worse than that.

(Images: getty)

What We're Reading:
Share This Post:
  • meah

    Totally agree, Eve. Not surprising, since I agree with pretty much everything you write. That part of the essay bothered me too. I remember being bullied relentlessly when I was 12 (before the internetz, even) and it made me a shell of the child I was for one year. As adults, we should never just stand by and allow children to abuse one another– even if that abuse is on the low end of the horrible spectrum.

  • AP

    I don’t agree with making bullies apologize past a certain age. I had several teachers make kids do that after being mean, and their insincere, forced, mocking apologies were just another form of bullying, a way of saying, “No, I’m not sorry for what I did and I stand behind my actions, except this stupid teacher is making me say otherwise.”

    Plus, a lot of people seem to think a forced apology counts as a punishment or resolution. It isn’t and it doesn’t. Skip the fake apologies and go straight to an age-appropriate behavioral reinforcement (detention, loss of privilege, etc.)

    • fallinseattle

      I think that the apologies that come can be forced – but they can also cause kids to think. That happened to me, when someone who enjoyed mocking me (and my older brother) really did back off after being forced to write an apology. Written apologies are probably more useful past a certain age, because it requires more time, thought, and separation.

  • Shelly Lloyd

    I doubt the author of that essay would sing a different tune if she had to endure from her co-workers the type of bullying that children often has had to endure. Let her have a co-worker who calls her “bitch” every day, who taunts her all the time, who follows her around and makes snide comments and encourages the rest of her co-workers to do the same. She would not be so calm about it, she wouldn’t be all “oh I’m just going to brush it off, it is only the way people act.”

    • SarahJesness

      That’s how I feel about “bullying” in general. The kind of behavior that gets classified as harmless bullying when kids do it would be classified as assault or harassment in the adult world. It could get you fired, and sometimes you can face legal charges.

    • Psych Student

      Never mind how much she ignored underlying factors such as anxiety and depression. I’ve heard of a client who said that at 3, they (I’m not sure of pronoun preference) tried to wander off into the ocean and drift away. They can look back on the situation now and say that was their first suicide attempt. Some people just have anxiety and depression from a young age. Some acquire it over time. It may get to the point where, yes, being called a bitch is enough to push someone to suicide. This woman doesn’t know how hard bullying can be, or for that matter, what kind of home life a child has. A bullied child, especially an LGBTQ child may not have a supportive house to run home to. It’s not as simple as, children should have the self-esteem to overcome cruel comments. I wasn’t bullied as a child and yet I am still afraid to receive a negative comment from an authority figure. It takes more for me to burst into tears than it used to, but I’ve had anxiety and depression for over a decade (I think I was an anxious child and I’ve had depression since I was 12 – I’m now 28). It didn’t even take someone calling me a bitch to my face to upset me and it wasn’t for a lack of a supportive household (great parents, not psychologically minded, but great, really caring parents). Some kids can’t handle harsh words and it’ll hit them harder and add to existing depression and anxiety.

  • Suburban Mommy

    Love this article. As a kid I never had a problem with bullying, only the occasional mean girl situation. But, then again, the Internet wasn’t really a thing either. When I was a kid, we were one of the only houses on the block to have a computer for many years (God, I’m old). And we didn’t even get AOL until I was almost in high school and we were again like the only ones on the block (so, so old). If I got into it with someone at school, I could go home and get a break. Sure maybe someone would try a prank phone call, but you can avoid a phone call. It’s way different when kids are getting shitty texts, emails, Facebook messages, mean Instagrams, and all kinds of other crap that I probably don’t know about yet (again, because I’m old). I agree that you don’t need to get involved in EVERYTHING, but it sure would be hard to brush it off if I was getting harassed 24/7 by some little bitches at school. And, PS: Who the hell dismisses kids with suicidal thoughts and tendencies? Um, what?

  • alice

    I am NOT a fan at all of Ms Metz and her viral blog post. It’s all over facebook, with shares prefaced by “I couldn’t have said it better myself!” and “Did i write this?”

    Her article is rife with over-generalizations, stereotypes, ridiculous hypotheticals, and is – worst of all – written by a 29 year old. “Years ago, kids used to be able to…” she says.

    Ugh. Exactly whose perspective is she borrowing? Her own childhood perspective? A TV talking head? Her parent’s or grandparent’s? Because certainly she hasn’t occupied a “parenting age” long enough to make such sweeping observations on the modern state of it.

    And let’s not overlook the impetus of her rant: that her toddler decided to NOT bring an action figure to show n tell because the teacher might think it looked like a gun. This small display of self-consciousness on her son’s part ignited a “what’s wrong with America” reaction from his mother. Double Ugh.

    She goes into a trite “boys will be boys” speech, complete with rowdiness, wrestling, and gun play, then segues to the question: “how soon will they be suspended from school?”

    WHAT? Umm, maybe teach them not to be rowdy animals at school, and they won’t get suspended?

    And she worries about the day that her boy “gets angry with a friend, tells him to ‘go away’ and is then labeled a bully”

    WHAT PLANET IS SHE LIVING ON?

    cue up the most ridiculous hypotheticals in the world (Sally kills herself because her boss told her to fix an error) and some horrible interpretations on Bullying, and you’ve got a viral blog piece on parenting! written by a girl in her twenties!

    /rant

    • CMJ

      That bit about show and tell floored me….wait, your son was being thoughtful about the consequences of his actions annnnnd you’re pissed at America? Whut?

    • alice

      i know! ugh.

      i mean, it’s not a trailblazing idea to raise children as members of the world instead of centers of it.

      but if you really read her article, it has nothing to do with that. her article is almost entirely about her future anger at society for not embracing an oldfashioned “boys will be boys” mantra.

      and she has boys. only boys.

      maybe they’re not the “center of the universe,” but certainly she’s made them foretold victims of it.

    • CMJ

      She’s already making excuses for them…seriously. So, unwittingly, she basically wrote the antithesis to her alleged point.

    • Anna

      YES! “Boys will be boys” is incredibly sexist.

  • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

    Ugh, she sounds like my parents’ friends whose kids are the bullies, and the parents make all kinds of excuses about how their kids shouldn’t be in trouble because “kids are kids” or “the school should not be able to tell my daughter not to harass classmates on Facebook in her spare time.” I suspect the parents were those kids too.

  • CMJ

    Am I the only one that read her blog post as a little sexist?

    • TheGiantPeach

      Raising my hand. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

    • alice

      “But I often question whether or not it [bringing my boys into this world] was the right decision for them.”

      - mommy blogger and future Men’s Rights Activist, stephanie metz.

    • CMJ

      LOL to the max.

    • Mystik Spiral

      More than a “little”…

  • TngldBlue

    She has this so ass backwards. The reason kids treat each other like shit these days is precisely because of attitudes like hers. My kid calls someone else a bad word? She won’t do it again. That isn’t coddling the kid who got called a name, that is teaching my child how to be kind and considerate to others, she will learn to “toughen up” without doing so at the expense of another kid.

  • AE Vorro

    The “bullying isn’t a real thing because kids have always
    been mean” is the weirdest sentiment. I think it comes from living in an
    age where there is more accountability because bad acts are now more widely
    publicized. (I’m not talking about the media as a group of news makers, but in
    that there are exponentially more and faster technologies to disperse events more widely.)
    Accountability is good thing, across the board, but I think the backlash comes
    from accountability fatigue.

    Bullying has always existed – some if it is a part
    of growing up (that mouthy kid the quiet ones shy away from, etc) and some of it
    is targeted and egregiously cruel. Now that we are more aware, as a group, as a
    nation, about the more egregious acts, we can work on solving these problems
    and this involves talking about them. Talking about them a lot. If one hasn’t
    dealt with egregious bullying, it seems like a petty concern.

    On the good side
    of such attention, the more vulnerable of the population (such as LGBT youth
    who face far higher levels and are more likely to face the same bullying at
    home) are increasingly more likely to find assistance and safe allies. On the
    bad side, people minimize these problems simply because bullying has such a
    wide spectrum.

  • Kate

    The bullying part is out of place, and it dilutes her overarching message. It’s too bad, because otherwise the article is quite good.

  • Tinyfaeri

    Kids have always been nasty to each other, this is true. Whether or not they’ve gotten nastier is subjective, but I don’t see how anyone can deny how much EASIER it’s gotten to be mean to someone. There’s real life, text, email, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Combine that with parents being all “rebellious” and saying “he’s just being a boy” or “kids will be kids” (or getting a bit down and dirty in the comments sections themselves) and you have a breeding ground for a level of meanness that the current generation of parents just never had to deal with… and so much of it is so public. And around forever. It’s not just physical and in person abuse anymore, it can take on a virtual life of its own and have real, lasting consequences for the victims.

    • Muggle

      I totally agree. Ten years ago, when I was in middle school– yes, bullying was present, yes it was nasty and horrible, and people were every bit as depraved as they are now. But back then pretty much the only social network was MySpace. Not everyone had a phone with texting capability, or a camera. All the bullying was done via instant messaging or email and it’s not hard to delete or block someone from those friends lists. But nowadays most people have Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram accounts with camera phones and texting. It really ramped up while I was in high school and now I’m in college. It’s because there’s little accountability on the internet until something goes viral.

  • Blooming_Babies

    Meh, I thought the whole thing was kind of craptastic. She is in no way better than any other average parent and it many ways far worse. I think she’s looking down the barrel of some rude realities when her parenting doesn’t work out the way she believes it will.

  • Sisi

    Her oldest boy is what, 3? So how on earth does she know anything about how she will deal with bullying? Wait about 10 years. Life has a way of bitch slapping perspective into the most arrogant.

    • Mystik Spiral

      “Life has a way of bitch slapping perspective into the most arrogant.”

      Ha!

    • Emil

      That’s what I was thinking. Her kids are around the same age as mine and I would never make statements like she did for fear of having to eat my words later on.

  • Kelby Johnson

    This makes me very angry. I was a victim of cyber bullying as an adult and let me tell ya, being called a bitch (and everything else imaginable) every single day, multiple times a day can really begin to wear on a person. My own personal hell went on for about 2 years and if I was younger and not as thick skinned as I am as an adult, I may have ended my own life… This woman needs a reality check… and a big one.

    • Tinyfaeri

      :( Hug.

    • pixie

      :( This makes me sad.
      My riding coach back home has also been a victim of cyber bullying as an adult in her 50s by people who did not like the fact that she got the farm back after her ex husband went bankrupt. (Her husband was manipulative and horrible to his family, but a real charmer to anyone outside of his family). She’s such a nice lady and one of the strongest women I know. The people harassing her? Teenagers and young adults between 13 and 25. Most of whom should have known better.
      I sincerely hope you are no longer being bothered by those lowlifes. *hug*

    • Kelby Johnson

      Thank you =) I am bully free (thankfully) and have been for a few years now.

  • Jenni

    The most offensive part of this blog is that it’s centered. WHY IS THAT?

    • alice

      hahahhaa

    • TngldBlue

      Because of the centering I was expecting a poem. I was very disappointed.

    • CMJ

      Yet she refuses for her children to be the center of her world…..hmmmmmmm.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Yeah – that is totally weird.

    • Stephanie

      HAHAHA!!! That’s hilarious and so true! She’s totally downplaying what bullying means in this day and age. Also, just because kids have been bullying each other for ages, that doesn’t mean it’s ok. There are all sorts of heinous things that have gone on for centuries that we realized over time were awful and put a stop to. This needs to be one of them.

  • Steph

    What kids do today is not bullying one another, it’s terrorizing one another. There’s a HUGE difference. They’re not stealing lunch money, they are physically assaulting one another (usually with a gang of them all together) and then telling the bullied to “go kill themselves because no one wants them around” and you know what? They are doing it. That’s not bullying and I haven’t read this article mentioned above but if I had I would have said just that to the writer. I actually just wrote my own post about the cruelty and ignorance displayed on Social Media by kids AND their parents.

  • Marci Yesowitch Hopkins

    Agree. If it was, Sally calling Susie a bitch once, during an argument, okay whatever, apologize and move on. When Sally calls, and texts, and emails, and posts on facebook, and tweets, and mentions to Susie every day at school that she’s a bitch, and encourages all friends to do so; that’s bullying. And it’s the relentless quality that breaks a person who is already struggling to find a sense of self, as we all do as teens. When they wake up in the morning and wonder what names they’ll be called and from what direction. And it’s not a question of if anymore, it’s a question of when and how; how can this be okay?

  • MCR

    I agree with your take on this. I like Metz’s approach in general, but she’s missed the mark in this case. I’m considerably older than she is, and attended school when bullying was done either face to face or by means of “poison pen” letters – the ink on paper kind – but even I realize that circumstances have changed, that communication technology alone has allowed bullying to be expanded to a level that I, as a child, never could have imagined. She needs to catch up.

  • JP

    Completely agree with those who did not like the post by Ms. Metz. First, it was just poorly written; it was all over the place with no cohesive argument, fraught with generalizations and hyperbole.

    Second, to make the argument that you aren’t making your kids the center of your life and then ranting about how unfair it is that they can’t bring toy guns to school seems a little… well, ironic. Being so upset over a child not being able to bring a toy to a learning institution is pretty much the definition of making your kids the center of your life. I believe the common term is ‘helicopter parent.’

    On top of that, she states in her post that after TV time, they are sent off to their room to play, because, as she states: “I am not just a mom, I’m also Matt’s wife, I’m also Stephanie, and I also run our household.’ Does that mean that spending time with your children makes you less ‘you?’ Does it make you less of a wife? I find just the opposite with my child – the more my husband and I are around him and have to give consideration to who we want him to be and how our actions affect him, the more we are becoming the people we want to be. Spending time with your child does not automatically mean that you are less yourself.

    In addition, I’m not sure where Stefanie got the crystal ball that tells her exactly who her children will grow up to be: ‘I know of two gentlemen that are going to be able to accept failure and move on having learned something from it.’

    Raising children is not a simple equation. Every child has a different personality, different needs and different emotions that, in conjunction with how they are raised, help shape who they become. Deciding that there is only one way to raise a well-developed, emotionally-stable child is just nonsense. It takes a willingness to learn, listen to your child, adapt and a whole lot of luck. The one thing I’m pretty sure is NOT a determining factor is allowing your child to play with guns at school.

    • Paul White

      I mostly like your post but….
      Being angry that your kids have to follow a rule but making them follow it anyway isn’t exactly making them the center of your world. Understanding that you may disagree with a rule, but that it’s still a rule, is a good thing and it’s something more people need to grok. There’s nothing that says I have to agree with everything my workplace dictates, but I kinda have to abide by it. That isn’t making me the center of my world, it’s having an opinion.

    • JP

      I see your point, Paul, but her whole argument is based on the idea that she doesn’t make her kids the center of her world and yet, she gets so worked up about what they aren’t allowed to do (bring toy guns or ‘weapons’ to school or call other kids names) that finds the need to write a 27 paragraph rant about it.

      My point is that if your kids aren’t the center of your world, then why is such a little thing getting you so worked up? Wouldn’t you just say ‘well, it’s a rule and you have to deal with it’ and move on?

      It’s precisely this illogical argument that is the whole problem with her post. If she made a compelling case for why her kids really aren’t the center of her world (such as, ‘they aren’t allowed to do this and I just abide by the rule and tell them that this is how things work), I may have found it more thought provoking. But to rant about what they can’t do as an issue with our current society while claiming that she’s such a laid back parent that she just sends them off the play by themselves while she does whatever she needs to do to still be her… well, there’s a fallacy in that reasoning.

      I don’t mind opinions that differ from mine (I like a good healthy debate), but I just found this one lacking in substance.

      As for your point about your job and rules – of course you can have an opinion and still abide by the rule, but my guess is that you won’t be taking to social media to rant about said rule and tell everyone how much you dislike the system.

  • pixie

    Just, ugh.
    I read the blog post thinking “how bad can it be?” And then I understood peoples’ comments.
    I seriously hope that neither of her children are bullied in the way she seems to dismiss.
    Also, little girls like playing with pretend guns and playing good guy bad guy and roughhousing. Just sayin’.
    And did she say that when they’re at a restaurant, if her son Hendrix is bored, he can put on his jacket and play outside? Or did I misunderstand that part? I hope one of his parents accompanies him if I didn’t!

  • DatNanny

    Her post is definitely ignorant. I think that’s common; many do not realize how the depths bullying has reached in this social media age. I caught the very early beginnings of this… Myspace was hitting popularity as I was in high school. I was bullied a lot in school. I had a very hard time. I had to switch schools more than once. But I avoided the worst of, I didn’t get today’s version of bullying, I only saw the beginnings. To see now as a grown woman the depths and pervasiveness of bullying, I can honestly say if I was a teenager in school now, I might not have survived.

    The one point I could draw from this article, and maybe this was not her intention: we should teach our children to defend themselves. If not directly, internally. Children should not bully, and we should teach our children to be kind, to be good people. But we can also build up our children, make sure they know at their core what kind of person they are and that they are stronger, better than bullies, that the opinion of these people is not important, that our children are important people and will reach a point in life where their talents and character will shine and they will be valued for those qualities professionally and by true friends they have found and chosen.

    In the same way we teach girls self-defense because even though rape should not happen, there are ill people out there and our girls should know how to defend themselves from these people, we should teach our children to defend themselves from being bullied, because even though bullying should not be occurring, there are bullies, and our children should know how to protect themselves.

  • Pingback: I Call Bullshit on Gender Stereotyping in Kids |

  • Renee J

    This bugged me when I read the essay, too. Plus, she’s wrong. Kids committed suicide in the good old days, too. The difference is that nobody cared back then.

  • Guest

    The author who dismisses the horrific suffering children go through so flippantly and makes excuses, continually for her own children’s behaviour should watch this video. Don’t suppose it will make much difference, but you never know. http://www.upworthy.com/the-anti-bullying-video-that-could-probably-win-an-oscar