The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

TRAINING: Goodbye to bullies, part 4

    There is no better trainer than Jesus when it comes to bullies. Both as an example and as a teacher, he is without parallel. His Sermon on the Mount is considered the highest collection of ethical teachings in history. Why don’t we look at some of the things he recommends in that passage? We all could use some strategies when dealing with difficult people. Anger is a learned response. Humility and humor and confidence can also be learned and practiced, too.

    Settle matters quickly with your adversary (Mt. 5:25). The King James version says, “Agree . . .  quickly.” The idea is to settle things out of court so that matters do not escalate beyond your control. Deal with it while you have it in your own power. Help your child get this strategy.
You trip carrying an armful of books. Scattering them across the floor, you go sprawling and a nearby observer loudly says, “Boy, what a clumsy dork!” Instead of getting angry, agree quickly by laughing, “You’re right; that certainly was clumsy. I’m still learning how to walk, (or carry books).” Pick up the books, then smile, say, “Have a great day,” and go on about your business (note: the underlined words could be whatever fits the situation.)

    “Go the second mile.” (Matthew 25:41) Similar to agreeing quickly, this strategy simply takes the insult further. If you took the same example as above, the response would be something like this:
You trip carrying an armful of books. Scattering them across the floor, you go sprawling and a nearby observer loudly says, “Boy, what a clumsy dork!” Go the second mile by saying, “You think I’m clumsy now? You should have seen me a few years ago. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t feed myself. I’ve come a long way.” You may be thinking that it is not true, but it is if you were ever a baby. This perspective is both humorous to your kid and mysterious to the “bully.” He may even feel bad about what he said. Don’t explain, pick up the books, then smile, say, “Have a great day,” and go on about your business (note: the key is to have a plan instead of choosing anger.)

    Many of us struggle with controlling our emotions whether they are embarrassment or anger or hurt. The key is to develop a strategy to handle these emotions. The mindset that Jesus had was to control yourself, trusting God to handle the other person. This is His way. You see it in his teachings and in his actions. In Matthew 5:43-48, He makes this statement, “Love your enemies. . . The Father causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Help your child begin to think of treating his adversaries like one of his friends. (Do not trust them like friends, but treat them like friends).

A basketball player has an attitude and it seems to be directed toward you. The coach assigns you to guard him. In the mix of play, he throws an elbow to your ribs. Two plays later, both of you go tumbling after a loose ball. You get up quickly and go help him up just as if he was a teammate. Be aggressive for good.

     One last struggle that many of our kids deal with is being the last pick at recess or for a game. The disappointment when that happens over and over again is like Chinese torture: drip, drip, drip, wearing them down little by little. Hey! There is a response that builds our kids instead of tearing them down. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God. . .”  (1 Thess. 5:18)

    When chosen to be the last one on a team, go to the captain that chose you, even though he did not want you on his team and say, “Thanks for letting me be on your team.” Everyone wants respect and thanks; everyone wants a team with the right kind of attitude. Who wants a weak player with a bad attitude? But a weak player with a thankful attitude can be an asset to a team.    

    In most cases our kids’ responses cause more problems than the “bully’s” words. If we equip our sons and daughters to respond with Christlike wisdom, we will find that most of the bullies disappear and some may even become friends. Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TRAINING: Goodbye to bullies, Part 3

“Instead of trying to prepare the road ahead for our children, 
we ought to prepare our children for the road ahead.” Ellen Black

    It is a faulty parent model that believes that we can smooth out all of life’s wrinkles for our children. It just won’t happen, because life is wrinkled. Difficulty is woven into the tapestry of life with purpose. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer; I have overcome . . .” Jesus taught us a healthy and mature view of life. That is what we must teach our kids.

    Our kids will be teased about something. Why? We are all flawed. Our kids are flawed. Their friends are flawed. Our relatives, leaders, employers, employees, and neighbors are all flawed. We are flawed on the outside and on the inside. Welcome to humanity.

    At the same time, we are amazing creatures, fearfully and wonderfully made. We think, communicate, laugh, write, compose, paint, build, plan, feel, and on and on. Psalm 82:6 actually calls us “gods, sons of the Most High.” We are made in God’s likeness.

    If you read the Bible, you come to see these things about our lives:
1)    We are created to be like Jesus
2)    We all have imperfections
3)    Life will have difficulty (testing)

    We must help our children get these three basic truths if they are going to be overcomers. Hebrews 2:10 states that Jesus was made perfect (complete) through suffering (testing). Our kids will be made more like Jesus through testing and difficulty.

    When Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten, he still succeeded because the Lord was with him. At the right time, he became the second-in-command in Egypt. When his brothers appeared before him, he told them this, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” What an incredible perspective; the testing did not destroy him, but made him strong in God's purpose.

    To equip your kids to handle bullies or testing of any kind, begin with the Bible. Read them the stories straight from God’s word. Read about the overcomers like Joseph, Moses, Gideon, and David. The Bible tells it like it is. Don’t leave out the struggles that these men had.

   To equip your kids to handle bullies or testing of any kind, discuss with them their imperfections. Help them become comfortable with how God has made them. If they have big ears, talk about it. If they have one green eye and one brown eye, discuss it with them. Help them see that God has made them unique in some ways, and that their value comes from being made to be like Him. Emphasize the heart, not the body.

   To equip your kids to handle bullies or testing of any kind, prepare them to expect some difficulty. James said, “Do not be surprised when you encounter various trials.” That’s good advice for our kids.
Let’s prepare them for the road ahead with this attitude:
Bring it on. . . the testing. . .  I am made to overcome.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

TRAINING: Say goodbye to bullies! Part 2

     Matt walks into a room at the beginning of school. His head is tilted downward a little, he glances sideways to find a seat. If he makes eye contact with anyone, he immediately averts his gaze, looking somewhere else for a seat. He chooses a seat that he thinks is safe, and if possible, isolated. When he sits down, he keeps his gaze and posture forward, trying to size up the others in the room without them knowing it.

    Jeff walks into a room at the beginning of school. His head is up, his eyes looking directly at the other people in the room. He pauses and sizes up the room, chooses a seat and heads directly toward it. On the way he speaks to one or two others with a smiling “Hey” or “Hi.” He sits, turns in his chair and introduces himself, “Hi, I’m Jeff. What’s your name?”

    Which one of these two will become a target? What message is Matt sending? Matt thinks and acts like a victim; in essence, he is asking for it. Probably, before he leaves school that first day, he will get what he expects. He tries to get out as quickly as possible and leaves his reading book under his chair. Someone notices, “Hey, Mouse, you forgot your book.” Two or three others laugh. He blushes, goes back to get his book, grabs it, and hightails it out of the room keeping his eyes down. He goes home with a nickname and thinking that everybody made fun of him.

    If Jeff forgets his book, someone will say, “Hey, Jeff, you forgot your book.” Jeff will say, “Hey, thanks. Wait for me.” He will get his book and walk out with his new friends.

    Which one of these two boys was bullied? Neither one. Each one of them built the perceptions of others by their own actions.

    Let’s back up five years to the beginning of kindergarten.

    Matt and his mom walk into school for the very first time. They are both nervous. Matt is clinging to his mother’s skirt as she walks up to introduce him to the teacher. Matt hides behind his mom. His mother says, “This is Matt. He is very shy. He always does this. Do you think he will be okay? Are the other children kind? Please let me know if he needs me at all. Should I stay nearby?” The teacher takes Matt by the hand and Matt cries. Mom hesitates. “He’ll be fine,” the teacher says. Mom walks a few steps and turns to look at Matt, fighting back her own tears, “Mommy will be back very soon.”

    Jeff and his mom walk into kindergarten for the very first time. They are both nervous. Jeff is clinging to his mother’s skirt as she walks up to introduce him to the teacher. Jeff hides behind his mom. His mother says, “This is Jeff. He is a little shy today, but he will be fine. He is learning to be brave.” She kisses him on the forehead; he tries to cling, but she gently and firmly takes his hand and places it in the teacher’s hand. “Be brave,” she says. The teacher takes Jeff by the hand and Jeff cries. Mom smiles, turns and walks out of the room without looking back. When she gets to her car, she cries.

    Our kids take their cues from us. They learn from us. Matt needs retraining. Basic social skills can be learned. They are best learned and practiced before getting into a situation. If we as parents know that a particular situation is coming, we can prepare our kids to be brave. They will gain confidence in you and they will gain confidence in themselves. A few moments ahead of time can reap great dividends.

    Knowing that difficulty was coming, Jesus prepared his disciples by telling them ahead of time. John 14: 29 “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.”
Ahead of time, remind your kids to do these things:
Look people in the eye
Speak first
Give them your name
Ask their name (use it)

Take the target off your kid’s back and the bully may never show up.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TRAINING: Say goodbye to bullies! Part 1

Are we training our kids to be victims? Or are we training them to be “more than conquerors”?
I think we are training them to be victims far too often.

I have read that as much as 90% of “bullying” is words. Just words. All of us have been hurt by words somewhere along the way, but I dare say that we have allowed ourselves to be hurt by them more than we should. When my feelings were hurt in second grade, my dad taught me this little ditty: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

 I went back to school the next day ready for the words, whatever they were. I had a shield; when the sharp arrows flew, I held up my shield—“Sticks and stones. . .” I felt brave like a warrior.

We have been taught that Christians are nice and sweet, that we do not retaliate, that we turn the other cheek, that we do not fight. We work hard as parents to speak kindly to our own children (as much as possible). Then when someone else speaks words that hurt our little guys, we are ready to deal with the bully! Call the parents, call the teacher, call the principal; and if all else fails, call the psychiatrist.

Instead of teaching our kids to stand up, we teach them to come to us and we will fix their problems. Instead of equipping them, we handicap them. We teach them to fear; we teach them that they cannot handle situations without us. We teach them by what we do.

Perhaps we should teach them to respond with courage according to what is right.

When John the Baptist saw the Pharisees coming to the Jordan River, he called them a brood of snakes. I wonder how he would have done on the playground in our modern schools. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, whitewashed walls, snakes, vipers, and condemned to hell. Was Jesus a bully? Was Jesus being Christlike? How could he say such things?

What we teach our kids to do is the key. We should teach our kids that saying hurtful things is wrong and does not honor the Lord. We should also teach our kids how to respond if others are being hurtful. The Pharisees were hurting the people; John and Jesus called it like it was.

When bullies show up, fear is not God’s plan for us, nor for our children. Our kids need a different attitude.

How about this? Isaiah 43:1 "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

Equip them with God’s word and equip them with a practical strategy, such as my dad gave me. Here’s another strategy: Smile, look the bully in the eye, and say, “It’s a free country; believe what you want.” Then walk away.
Practice this at home. Practice, practice, practice. Telling your child to do this is not enough. Practice.