Recently I did a workshop called, Bullies, Victims and Parents: A Complicated Brew. Never one to be shy on offering my opinions, I sometimes find myself going against current "political correctness." When I presented my notion that we try and help the victim-types (or shark chum) become more self-aware in their social interactions so that they don’t hand it over to the more aggressive-types (or sharks), some in the audience got upset with me. They felt that I was putting too much on the "victims."
A couple of examples may illustrate.
Young Peter, age 10, is really into Yugioh cards. In fact, his interest is a near obsession. Not only does he bring his Yugioh cards to school, he also wears a Yugioh ocarina around his neck quite proudly. Recently, in a session with me he played the ever popular tune "Hot Cross Buns" on his ocarina.
What I said to Peter was something like the following after we discussed some of the trouble he was having with kids making fun of him:
"Look, I think your Yugioh cards are great and you can come in and tell me about every one of them, but the fifth graders around you are probably going to make fun of you because they think Yugioh cards are babyish. I’m not saying they are right, but that’s the reality. You can also come in and play your ocarina any time you want and I will be a very appreciative audience. But I’m telling you, if you bring the ocarina to school, you’re going to get hammered."
Peter got the idea.
Then there was Brandon, expert extraordinaire on Presidents’ wives. It certainly was impressive that he knew what gown Dolly Madison wore to the inaugural ball and that he even knew who Millard Fillmore was, no less President Fillmore’s wife’s name. Even so, I gave him the same talk as Peter’s. Effectively, I coached him to choose his audience selectively when displaying his vast knowledge of presidents’ wives.
When I told these stories to parents in the workshop, some were upset that I was "blaming the victim," and not valuing or honoring the child’s uniqueness.
Funny, I greatly value kids’ unique qualities, but I also have my feelers out for when some of these qualities may be getting them into social hot water. (It’s a tough shark pool out there.)
While they thought I was guilty of blaming the victims, I thought I was empowering them by helping to read the social signals better.
To keep some of the sharks at bay, my money has "Hot Cross Buns" and Dolly Madison staying home!
What’s your view?