As adults, we struggle each year with the materialism of the holidays and the need to convey the deeper meaning of Christmas, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and other winter observances. We hope to inspire empathy, kindness, love, and charity in our children, and instill a yearning to make the world a better place all year long. We are, unfortunately arrayed against a media machine that tells children from a very early age that they are not enough.
They are not thin enough, not sexy enough, not rich enough, that they don’t have the right possessions, and that they are not worthy unless they conform. The media sells a reality television life, one that is empty of true love or any feeling at all except the incessant need for stuff and for validation. The penalty for being out of step, different, and not conforming can be bullying – and the consequences even for older children can be devastating. Bullying, in real time, or over an app has consequences that include depression and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you could give a gift that would help strengthen an injured spirit, armor a young soul, that gift would be martial arts. NOT to “kick ass” – but to learn that they are enough, and a wonderful enough, just as they are. They will learn the meaning of real friendship, of having friends who share the values of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and how to build an indomitable spirit. Bullying isolates children when they most need friends and companionship, understanding and (most of all) backup. In many cases, other children are afraid to be friends with kids who are being bullied, fearing that the bully can turn on them as well.
Let’s be clear, bullying is violence, it is assault, and it is an act of deliberate and malign intent. It’s not “kids being kids” and it’s not something the bullies get over. Patterns formed in childhood are set in adulthood, and bullies often go on to get involved in violence as adults. In the case where a child is bullied to suicide, it is a soul-killing act of violence that deprives a family of a beloved child, and that child of a future as deliberately as a bullet from a gun. It causes harm, even when not fatal that can scar the bullied person for life if action is not taken to safeguard their mental health.
This year, give a child or young adult a gift of belief in self, of learning to value one’s self, of understanding self-worth, and that they are loved for who they are. Watch them learn, and grow, and become the upstanding, loving, and righteous adults who can make change in the world. Help your child to be bully proof, and help a child who has been bullied to strengthen their spirit and heal among new friends.
From everyone at Park’s, may you have a blessed and joyful holiday, and ring in the new year with indomitable spirit!