Monday, June 29, 2015

"Gay Rights" Do Not Give You License to be a Bully

I have tried over and over again to let this go. I have been nearly in tears, fuming over the injustice of it all. I have written this and deleted it several time. It infuriates me that my position on this will more than likely illicit unkind, and hurtful comments. I have been afraid to write this out for fear of online retribution, but I still live in a country where I can say what I want, and where I can stand for the things that I believe in. I just can't hold it in any longer.

Friday was a historic day for many in this country. A cause that they had fought long and hard for was won. Frankly I am relieved it is over. I don't agree with gay marriage, I will not be teaching my children that I'm okay with it, but I will not stand in the way of other people living their lives according to their own beliefs, and I would hope that these brothers and sisters of mine will afford me the same. I love and respect all of them, and the choices that they make that I disagree with will never affect my decisions to love and respect them.
That being said there IS a new trend in this country that I find very distasteful. The trend of bullying people who do not support Gay Marriage. The most recent example that comes to mind is a post that I read on Friday. A photographer openly supported Gay marriage on his Facebook page and a client messaged him on Facebook to tell him that they wish to change photographers, because they do not support gay marriage, and to inquire as to how they could get the money they gave him as a deposit back.  The client said nothing disrespectful just that they didn't want to support something that they don't believe in. Unfortunately for them they signed an agreement and could not get their money back. Rather than handling this professionally, by politely informing the client that they could not get their deposit back, he proceeded to write them a message that basically told them that he was glad they were going somewhere else because he doesn't want to take pictures for horrible people. He informed them that they could not get their money back, and that he was going to donate it to an organization that supports gay marriage.  After this he posted it on Facebook. He didn't use their names which I guess justifies it to some people. Then the masses applauded. They applauded his "daring". They applauded him "putting horrible people in their place". I personally felt sick to my stomach.

What if it had been the other way around? More and more stories pop up in the news about gay couples suing florists, bakers, photographers, and providers of wedding venues for not providing services. According to the media, and a lot of people who support gay rights, a gay couple who were declined service by a photographer would have then had the "right" to sue the photographer, take away his livelihood, and smear his name and reputation across the Internet. That is bullying, and we are letting them get away with it.

These people, the victims of the bullies, are having their lives torn apart. Why is this okay? If I saw someone being deliberately unkind to someone because they were gay I would stop it. Why does no one step in to stop the bullying when it is the other way around? People like me, who try, are often labeled as bigots, as haters. The people who assign these labels really need to take a look in the mirror. The golden rule is treat others as you would want to be treated. It is not treat only the people who agree with you as you would want to be treated. It does not mean that we treat everyone exactly the same. It means that we accept all people as themselves, with their imperfections, mistakes, beliefs, and values. It means that we value each person for their right to lead their lives according to their own conscience. It means that we do not judge them for living true to their own beliefs. Every person is precious. Every person has value. If people who want "equality" remembered that, this bullying behavior would not be acceptable in the slightest.
No matter the bully, no matter the victim bullying is always wrong. Let us stand together as a human family and put a stop to it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Please Don't Tell my Child It's Okay

I have invited you into my home and the first thing my child does is to jump on you. My four-year-
old is a bouncing ball of energy that if harnessed correctly could probably power the world, and right now every ounce of it is being spent on you my friend. You are the new face she is intent on loving, cuddling and possibly flattening. My cheeks may begin to color slightly. As often as I try to just accept her the way she is I would be lying if I told you that embarrassment doesn't come into it at all. Then I take a deep breath and try to put on my best parenting self (for your sake as well as hers) and I say "Honey, you need to ask before touching other people." Or maybe "Sweetie, I need you to take three steps back and a deep breath. Then ask before you cuddle with so-and-so."

I sense your discomfort. You have no idea what to do in this situation. Right after my little one subjected you to what very well may have been a painful experience you are now dealing with the awkwardness of me calling her out on it. You may sense my slight embarrassment in the situation and on the whole it's just uncomfortable so you open your mouth and say the worst possible thing you could say in this moment "Don't worry about it. It's okay."

The first thing that comes to my mind is "No it most certainly is not okay.". I definitely appreciate your patience in the matter. I appreciate that you still want to be my friend/relative despite the steamrolling you just received. I appreciate that you want me to feel comfortable in this situation, but it is definitely not okay, and here's why.

First I am raising a human being, not a monkey. When adults meet with each other they do not pummel each other in the stomach, squeeze each other's faces or hang on each other with all their strength. Each of my children , from the 1st grader to the baby, are all little grown-ups in training. I have the responsibility to act appropriately and to encourage them to do so as well.

Second there are many times where my child's behavior is completely inappropriate and even dangerous. Not everyone she meets is as sturdy as you. She has little old grandmas and grandpas that she sees on occasion, and not all of them are up to the amount of crushing love that you just received. I have to have a system in place to remind her how she can act around the people that are not quite ready for her wild sweetness.

Third, and this is the most important, is because I said so. I know it sounds cliche, and way to authoritative, but I am her mother and I see far more of the picture than you. I see every time she jumps on people. I am familiar with her needs and quirks, and heart. When you say to me "It's Okay." you are another grown-up undermining my authority as her parent, and she will listen to you. You are the one who just gave her permission to do exactly what she wants to do. What child in their right mind is going to do what mom says when someone else gives them permission to disobey her.

Things you can do instead

First, don't allow her to do what I just told her not to. Support me as a parent. If you are okay with allowing her to jump on you and love you that is fine, but if I told her she has to ask first than make her ask first.

Second, don't be afraid to upset her. If you are not okay with her being on your lap than don't let her be on your lap. Children are sometimes thoughtless, whiny and manipulative. The hope  is that someday they will grow out of that, and a big part of that is not always getting what they want. Allowing my child to climb all over you when you are not okay with that teaches her nothing about personal space and the right to your own body.

Third, please continue to have patience with her and with me. Don't see this as a time to take over as her parent. Uphold what I have asked of her by reminding her gently that "Mom said". Help her to understand that  what I ask of her is important. When I asked her to get off of you I wasn't passing the baton of parenthood over to you. I am working hard to forge a good and respectful relationship as mother to my children. Respect that and allow me to do my job the way I see fit.

This situation is just one of the many snags I have run into in this journey as a parent. There are many many others that I could name, but bottom-line we all need to support parents as they try and guide their children to the right path. Have patience with us and with our little ones. Be our cheerleaders. Don't tell us how to do it , or try to do it yourself. Just look us in our tear-filled eyes and say "You're doing great mom! Keep up the good work!"