Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Real Housewives or the Real Bullies. You decide!

I was in the television business for many years and loved it. But television is one of those things that as a parent, you have to take seriously. Even if none of the other parents seemed to be disturbed about what their kids saw, I will be eternally grateful that I did care. Of course, my four kids tease me unmercifully about my attitude towards the tube when they were little but I take it like a man because I know that at the very least, it made them think about what they were watching. (Not that they always followed the guidelines. When I would walk in from work, I would hear them nearly killing themselves by leaping over furniture to turn it off before I could get upstairs. Naturally, the remote was always lost.)

Now that I'm completely immersed in the bullying prevention field, my concerns are not just for my own kids, but all kids. No matter what anyone says, I think most reality shows encourage crazy amounts of meanness. Plain and simple.

The other day, I tripped over this blog post written by Sally Berenzweig, one of the co-founders of KidSafe Foundation and asked if I could repost it because I think it's spot on. Here it is:

Ok, I admit it..I watch the Real Housewives and I am a little embarrassed about it. Those that know me may be surprised…my family (well not my sisters because they watch it too) Friends? (Well not my closest because they too watch) But I am sure colleagues might be surprised. But I do watch it and I had to write this blog after watching “The Real Housewives New York Reunion” last night.

Now I may be a little late in the game for just writing this because I tape the show and don’t know when it was first aired(another slight embarrassment) So, last night as my husband is falling asleep and I am up I start watching. Not 10 minutes into the show I feel my blood pressure rising. My husband picks his head up and says “Oh my g-d they are so mean!” and I realized these women are bullies.

So now the importance of the blog…..I start thinking ….What are these women modeling for their children?
· To speak their mind…yet not to care how another will feel about what their saying!
· To be strong…yet always at the expense of others.
· To stand up for what they believe in…and to talk over people until they see things your way.
· To tell the truth…but be mean-spirited as you tell it..
· To not listen to others because they don’t agree? To me, that speaks Bully, and that is what they are modeling for their children…how to be a bully (and boy are they good at it)
If I had the opportunity to ask each and every one of these women what have they taught their children about how to treat other people. I am sure that they would say they want their children to treat others with respect, dignity, empathy and kindness. But if you watch that is not at all what they are modeling for their children. As I am watching I wonder to myself when they look back on this footage are they embarrassed? Do they wish they did things differently? Do they realize they are the “Mean Girls?”

All I know is that I don’t want my child to be a bully or a bystander – I want him to be the kid that helps his friend who is being bullied. I want my child to treat people the way he wants to be treated – with respect, dignity, empathy and kindness and that is why I try to model that behavior for him. Children do what we do. Not what we say, and I guess at the end of the day that is why I wrote this blog. For us as parents to ask ourselves what kind of children are we raising? Act how you want your child to act – Model good behavior.

Now I know the Real Housewives shows have millions of viewers and I am one of them. Why are we watching? This is something I will have to explore further at another time. If for nothing else. It made a good blog!

ps. I promised my business partner that I would share that she has never watched any of these shows.

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