On Kissing Like a Horse: My Mother's Perspective (Sponsored)

This post is sponsored by Chase -- a strong supporter of the Bully Project, a program committed to ending bullying and ultimately transforming society. Learn more here.

When I posted this, several people inquired as to how my mother handled what went on. Whether she had regrets, advice, insight as to what a parent can do for their child in a similar situation so I decided to interview her for this post. Easier said than done. Interviewing someone about an experience that felt so TOTALLY mine at the time made me realize how clueless I ABSOLUTELY was. I never really understood what my mother was going through during those years, too blinded by my own angst and selfsession. It turns out it was just as difficult, if not harder for her. Which makes perfect sense to me now, all of these years (and children) later but at the time just pissed me off more because SHE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND! HOW COULD SHE POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND!??? Oh, teenage self. Oh, you.

***
GGC:  Hello, mom.

WWW: Hello, Rebecca. 

GGC: I have some questions to ask about your experience parenting children who were bullied and I am expecting very insightful things to come out of your mouth. So please do not disappoint me. 

WWW: ...

GGC: First, can you tell me a little bit about your high school experience? Did you ever get bullied? Can you explain? 

WWW:  I was lucky that I never was bullied. Junior high was my difficult time. I had only one friend in 7th grade and we had no classes together and different lunches so it was hard. I put all of my energies into studying and doing well in school, but I felt uncomfortable with my peers. Then at the end of 8th grade, all of us “misfits” found each other and we became friends. We called ourselves “the group” and we had wonderful parties every weekend, put on plays over the summer, had lunch together, got involved in socially minded clubs, etc. I was lucky. Years later at my 30 year HS reunion, one of the “popular kids” came up to me and said, “You know, I envied you guys. I think your group had the most fun of anyone in HS.” I realized then that the “lucky” kids in high school are the ones who find a like-minded group and are under the radar as far as popularity. Although I had wished I had been in the “in” crowd while I was in high school, I now realize my high school years were rather idyllic. 

GGC: How did you know that I was being bullied? Was this something I shared with you? Or did you find out other ways? (Penis on the garage door, perhaps? "Becca Woolf is a Slut" in chocolate syrup on the driveway?)

WWW: The whole thing was so overwhelming and confusing. Here you were popular and you were having all of these horrible experiences. In elementary school, it is much easier to be in control of the situation as a parent. You know the parents, run into them at school, and are more connected to the teachers. But in high school, it’s harder. I didn’t know any of these kids or their parents. I just kept supporting you, encouraging you to write and get involved in activities that you loved and listening to you as an advocate. You were most talkative right before bed and I gave up a lot of sleep lying in bed with you, hearing your sadness, your joys, your plans, your beliefs. Also, you had a large group of friends, all who were being bullied by the older girls, so your friends were also your support system. This is very different from the kids who have no one at school to be on their side.

GGC: Good point. I was thinking about this and trying to remember how you and dad reacted to the rather graphic souvenirs we'd wake up to and I can't remember you doing anything outside of talking to me about it and talking to my teachers. 

WWW:  When things got really bad, we met with the school counselor and then we had you switched into a different English class so you could be with the teacher you loved so much who loved you back, and could be a mother figure for you if/when you needed one. 

GGC: Mrs. Lapadula. Greatest teacher I ever had. Twice.

WWW: I think that helped turn things around for you. You knew you had allies both at school and at home. It was so hard to see you in pain. These were the hardest years of my life, really, watching you suffer. I think the most important thing I did (I hope) was to listen to you, REALLY listen, talk to you, but never over you... without pressure. I also thought it was important for you to have other adults to talk to so I sent you to a therapist once a week so you had someone to talk to outside the family who we both trusted. I remember after one session, I was so worried about you and your therapist said to me, “You know, Wendy, Rebecca is like an ocean liner and you are the tug boat in the sea trying to help her. She knows exactly where she is going.” This gave me great relief, that even though the water was choppy, you could navigate it and get through it. I think the therapists helped me more than she helped you. 

GGC: Rachel and David were also bullied. That's three for three. How did you deal with their bullying? Did you do things differently the second and third time around?

WWW: With Rachel and David, things were very different. They struggled fitting into their "groups". David was not a tough boy and was very sensitive and innocent which can be difficult. It was often hard to know with David what was going on since he, as most males do, would go into his cave when he was upset. He would keep most things to himself and wouldn’t want to talk. I think a parent needs to be very sensitive to changes in moods, subtleties in their child’s behavior. I read a great book on the subject at this time called Real Boys and it helped me immensely. I was used to you, Rebecca—the great communicator. In 6th grade, when David went to the East Coast with his class, he had been teased and bullied by his roommates who then spread rumors about him to the entire class. When I found out about this, I was furious and immediately called his teacher. She contacted the parents and both of the kids came over to our house with letters, sat down, and talked to us, apologizing on the verge of tears themselves. They truly saw how they had made David feel. Later, in high school, I also saw that he needed to get involved in something besides school or sports to keep him engaged, a creative outlet. I told him he had to pick an instrument of his choice and take lessons for a year. He took up the guitar which became a huge part of his life, writing songs, working on his music. When he was sad, he had a friend, his music, to help him. We played a lot of Scrabble after school, and when he showed an interest in cooking, I cooked with him. I think it is important for kids who struggle with friendships to have something at home to make them feel special, to have an interest whether it be academic, sports, artistic—something. Kids need to feel good about themselves at home, especially when they don’t at school. I also think it is important to listen to your children when they are telling you things are bad. One time David refused to get up for school and wouldn’t tell me why. I suggested we take a day off together, go to his favorite restaurant for lunch, do whatever he wanted for the day. He was thrilled and we had the best day together. The next morning, he got ready for school and told me he felt better. I never found out what had happened to make him feel so bad that day, but being present with him and letting him know I was there for him if he needed me must have helped in some way. Rachel, too, had some tough years, first in middle school and then again in high school. Her friends disowned her during her junior year and made her life pretty miserable at school. She had to find all new friends, but before then, she spent a lot of nights alone with us. During this time, she poured her heart into her flute and her other love, knitting. At one point we discussed transferring her to a music high school for her senior year, but she decided to stay put and continued focusing her energy on her music. I sent her to the same therapist during this time (again for my peace of mind) who reassured me that Rachel, like Rebecca, was strong and healthy. The therapist gave me books to read about the mean girl syndrome, which helped me immensely. I was an emotional wreck during this time but Rachel was fine. And once she stopped caring about what happened, the girls who had ostracized her suddenly wanted to be her friends again. 

GGC: This may be repetitive but do you think there's a "best way" to deal with bullying as a parent? Everyone's experiences are unique, of course. But what do you think is generally helpful? 

WWW:  Listen to your child. Not only verbally but to the subtle changes in behavior. And I think it is helpful to find someone outside the family for them to talk to, someone you both trust, whether it be a counselor, teacher, therapist, or clergyperson. I also think it is of utmost importance to help nurture your child’s sense of self, starting when they are very young. I think my kids all have a strong sense of who they are and had inner strength because of it.  Exposing your kids early to things that interest them is important so they can put their energy into these loves when things get bad. I work with kids as a teacher and as a music director. We have had bullying instances in our classes and I handle it by bringing the bully and the victim together with their parents. The bully has a chance to see how her actions and words devastate the people around her. And the victim is in a safe environment to express how they feel. Emotional bullying can be just as painful as physical bullying, so it’s important not to pass it off as “kids stuff.” Words are as dangerous as blows. Take it all seriously. I also think it's a good idea to involve the school. And if nothing changes, change schools. Your child’s safety is the most important thing.

GGC: If you could go back and do things differently, would you? 

WWW: Sometimes I wish I called the parents of the “mean girls” and told them what their daughters were doing to you. But in high school it can be confusing. At the time, I was afraid that it would have completely humiliated you and wasn’t sure that would have been best. What do you think?

GGC:  It's hard to say. I would have been mortified if you said something. Mortified and horrified and I would have likely disowned you forever. Not really. But I definitely would have been more afraid to go to school. Anyway, it's tough to say and I love you. Moving on... because I am a happy well adjusted adult human with two happy well adjusted adult human siblings, which has everything to do with you and dad's parenting. Please share your parenting secrets here and now. 

WWW: Your dad and I were completely on the same page when it came to our values and priorities. You and I definitely had our share of fights and tears, but we always made up and our relationship was stronger for working through the tough times. We were very different teenagers, so I had to learn to not judge your decisions and to trust you to navigate fearlessly as a consequence of them, even though at times this was hard for me. In the end, I feel this made you into a very trusting and confident person. I think trusting your child makes them trust themselves. I also think it is important for a parent to be able to admit when they are wrong. We all blow it and learn from our mistakes just as our kids do. I am a big believer in the “family dinner,” gathering together without distractions, TV, phones, etc. I think it provides stability and a feeling of safety to a child, even when things are tough. We had wonderful conversations, laughed together, learned about each others’ days, and connected. Sometimes it was like pulling teeth to get you to sit down with us, but I think it was important. I believe that there is a parenting manual written in our hearts, and if we listen closely, we will know what to do. We need to be prepared to parent each child differently because each child is unique. It's our job to listen and watch so that we can be there when needed without smothering. Parenting is like being an umbrella keeper. When the weather gets bad, you hand over the umbrella. It shelters your child, keeps them dry, but still provides plenty of room to move. When the sun comes out, you are there to take it back so your children can run and play in the puddles.
***

Rebecca, here. I would like to add, because my mom did not that one of her greatest talents as a parent was her honesty combined with her empathy.My parents were always honest with me. They expressed their disappointment in certain decisions I made, punished me for breaking rules but also, were open to me making my own. (My curfew was something my mom and I negotiated and then decided on together. Genius because I was MUCH better at following rules I had a hand in making.) And no matter what kind of mistakes I made, my parents stood with my anyway.I never felt judged. Even when there were plenty of reasons for my parents to judge me. I never felt talked down to. Even when I definitely deserved to be. My thoughts and opinions mattered. My emotions were respected. My mother empathized. Always. Still does.

Anyway. I’m going way out in Tangentland, sorry. All of this to say that no matter what happened in High School, I always felt safe, loved and supported at home. That has never changed. My family is my team. It is what I am most grateful for in this life and I take it for granted zero. It is also, I think, why I was able to navigate Bullyland with some semblance of grace. 
IMG_1989
Thanks, mom. Also, you look fifteen years younger now, you fox. 

GGC


44 comments:

Keely | 12:03 PM

I love hearing what your mom has to say about parenting, I am always picking my mom and my grandma's brain about what they did as parents. My kids are still very little but I already am afraid of them getting picked on and hurt, because I remember what it was like. It's really nice to hear a parent's perspective on the situation so that I can have some ideas of what to do if and when it happens. You are obviously very lucky to have such a great mom :)

Rebecca @ Sink or Swim | 12:03 PM

I love your mom!
I was lucky enough to get through high school unscathed, besides the normal high school drama.
I am very worried about my 10 year old daughter, that girl crap starts early. She is sweet and funny and sensitive and I worry that she may be tend to follow a strong leader, even if they are not doing the right thing. I just keep talking, talking, talking and try and keep communication open between us in a way that I didn't have with my mom.
Seriously though, I want to parent like your mom is a parent. She rocks.

Amelia | 12:06 PM

I am so thankful that you're continuing to talk about this, and as a mother I am even more thankful for your mother's insights. Our mothers are very similar in their approach to parenting and to handling my bullied years (I wound up switching schools and everything was just peachy after that). Although my son is young, I'm already thinking about this so much because I think in this day and age as parents, we absolutely have to. I always say that taking care of teenagers (and beyond) starts the day that they're born.

Also, I don't exactly know if there's room for this, but if you or your mom are ever interested, I would love to have a (blog) discussion about thoughts on what to do if we find out that our child is being the bully. I've often thought that I don't know what would be worse, watching my child be bullied (emotionally or physically) or finding out that my child was being a bully. Presumably it's one of those things that every parent assumes that their perfect child would never do, but obviously a lot of children that come from wonderful homes buckle under the pressure of trying to fit in and act out as a bully. Thoughts?

(Also, I totally agree that your mom is looking even sassier these days, please give me your genes. Thanks)

Arnebya | 12:21 PM

Listening is key. I love to hear what previous generations think about parenting, bullying, everything. Looking back on my own high school life, I was bullied, but not nearly as badly as you, Rebecca. My oldest daughter is heading to 7th grade. Junior high was a magical time for me; I'm hoping it'll be the same for her, but I am no dummy. The bullying (especially between girls) starts earlier than ever.

I'll co-sign Amelia's desire for a discussion on what to do when it's your kid doing the bullying. My daughter repeated something she'd said to a girl at school -- a demeaning comment. I damn near swerved on the road. I had to pull over, turn around to her and explain that that crap is not tolerated. It starts as mean words and jabs but it can escalate so easily and you never ever ever do that to someone (i.e., OH HELL NAW). She was clueless, saying she had no idea her words could be considered bullying. That was when I knew we were not talking enough about it and now it's a regular conversation.

c is for cape town | 12:36 PM

LOVE the parenting as umbrella keeper analogy. And everything about honesty.
I try very hard never to lie to my kids - about anything - it's not always easy but my hope is it'll build the most honest relationships possible, and that this will see us through anything.
Thank you ladies!

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 12:44 PM

@Amelia @Arnebya Gosh, YES. And I think it would be much more difficult if your child is DOING the bullying because bullies are by nature insecure. And I think it's much harder to navigate an insecure (angry) child. Anyway, I don't know how to speak to this because (luckily) we haven't had to deal with this. (On any side, thank goodness. Although I assume that will not ALWAYS be the case.)

However. I do think what you say, Arnebya is huge. We have to nip bad behavior in the bud. I am shocked by the lack of parent involvement. I have to discipline other people's kids FAR MORE than should be necessary.

I'll never forget the kid who kicked Fable in the face. (She was a baby and he was OLDER. Like, 5.)

The mom was like, "Now, honey. How do you think that makes her feel. Use your words next time, okay." And then SHE apologized to me.

UH, your kid just kicked my kid in the face and you're not going to tell him that what he did is wrong? Make HIM apologize? What is this?

And I see it all the time. This patronizing way at dealing with bad behavior instead of actually DEALING with it.

How are children to every know right from wrong unless we show them?

"Use your words," is not punishment.

Anyway. I've gone off on another tangent? I'm very talky this week apparently.

Rosie | 12:59 PM

That was so interesting. I don't think we often stop to think about how our parents experience our lives, and yet they do, they must! We were their babies once (and remain so forever, in many ways), so these types of episodes are bound to affect them deeply (sometimes more deeply, I'm sure).

Mums are brilliant.

Kris | 1:11 PM

I love this post. I rarely comment, but have read your blog for years. I'm Concerned about the mother I'm going to be to our two boys (one toddler and one newborn) and want to be able to make for them the type of family you have. I'm lucky that I have a wonderful hands-on partner in all this, someone who know my family background and reigns me in when I step too close to being my parents.
Rather than respond how your mother responded when i was having friend problems or being bullied, my mother told me I was a snob and that was why people were being mean to me. When I was bullied and wanted to pull out of the sport I was in because of that, my father refused and told me to deal with it. I want to provide for my kids what your mom did for you - I've always wanted a mother like that. I like especially the way she handled your brother, because I have boys of course and I know that they won't want to confide in us the way girls sometimes do. Such good advice. Thanks WWW!

Sarah | 1:14 PM

I had the mother who couldn't trust herself to have raised me well enough to trust me when it was time to be an adult. Does that make any sense at all? That is one of my favorite things to do with the teenagers in my life, to say, hey, you are smart and instinctive, you can make these decisions yourself. And then hope that when they are cOmpletely on their own, they trust themselves.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 1:15 PM

@Kris You're amazing. And I agree. Archer and David (my brother) are so much alike, it's really helpful having BOTH of them to talk to. Fable tells me EVERYTHING already and Archer is tricky when it comes to opening up. He speaks in code and I have to constantly work at deciphering it.

Amy L. | 1:59 PM

I always do love these family posts from you. I envy your relationship with your mom, and so admire that she sought outside help for you and for herself. That's amazing.

'"You know, Wendy, Rebecca is like an ocean liner and you are the tug boat in the sea trying to help her. She knows exactly where she is going."'

One of my favorite lines ever. It brought tears to my eyes!

Melissa | 2:09 PM

I really enjoyed reading this post. I was never on the receiving or giving end of bullying but feel regret for feeling scared and intimidated when I saw in particular a girl in jr high get bullied horribly and did nothing about it. I share this with my two daughters and encourage them to feel compassion for kids that are different or may be on the bullying end. I also admire the relationship you have with your mom, it's encouraging insight she shared and she sounds like a very smart woman. I would love to hear any marriage advice she may have, just a thought, thank you.

gavintiegirl | 2:32 PM

Absolutely wonderful! You are such a lucky duck to have such a wonderful, nurturing mother. Thanks for sharing her with us. ;)

I have a 14 yr old boy and it's nice to get advice on these years ahead from someone who seems to have done it successfully. Perhaps mom should write a book about parenting.

P.S. And let's not forget Dad too! ;)

KateFitz | 2:44 PM

I have had a hard time lately with my guy at the playground. He's huge (40lbs, 4t-5t , youth size 1 shoes) but he won't be 3 until October. He is slightly verbally delayed. Lots of children and adults expect different behavior from him. He generally good about waiting his turn at the slide/swings. But he is really bad right now about taking other kids toys.. A father told me I was raising a bully as i was trying to put him into timeout and have a discussion about not taking things from others I burst into tears. Pretty much every time I take him out someone comments on how out of control he is.

I don't want to have that label on him...just bc he a bigger kid with a late birthday (for when he goes to school).

Kim | 3:19 PM

Makin' me cry over here. What wonderful parents, and what a great opportunity to hear her side of your teenage years.

Active Lisa | 3:46 PM

I'm very glad you have four kids.
I worry sometimes that all the thoughtful people are choosing not to have kids, and the world will become as predicted in the Idiocracy movie.
I'm very relieved to know that there are you and Hal raising the people who will be taking care of the world.

Laura | 5:45 PM

That mom is yours is one smart lady. As a school counselor, I loved everything she had to saw about how to support kids, and as a mom I hope I can do half as well as she did. Great, thought provoking post.

Kate | 6:26 PM

Your mother is amazing. I would happily aspire to be half the parent she has been to you! Such love in every move.

Anonymous | 6:55 PM

I love your mom. Seriously, is there a wiser woman on the planet? And I love that she would stay in bed with you and talk at night. I do this with my sons. Our best conversations happen in the dark under comforter tents...and I pray to God they will let me do that, um, forever? But if they don't? I'm buying them guitars! :)

Kristen Mae | 7:22 PM

"trusting your child makes them trust themselves" ... Genius. Love it.

Anonymous | 7:56 PM

So glad to see you're continuing the discussion and adding your mom's perspective is invaluable. It's a testament to how you got through that horrible time in high school that you think being kind to each other is the most.important.thing evah.

Karen

Anonymous | 9:04 PM

Wow - I was totally riveted by this post, and the comments. I was bullied quite a bit as a kid (mostly for being small...and mouthy.) It was hard at the time, but I have to say that the worst thing about it was that I rarely felt I had anyone on my side, certainly not at home. As a new mom I'm terrified of unconsciously recreating some of the not-spectacular parenting I received as a child, and I'm always looking for advice and perspective from parents who really got it/are getting it right -- so thank you both so much for this discussion!

Meg | 10:15 PM

Rebecca & WWW : THANK YOU so much for having this discussion and posting it.

Isabelle | 3:55 AM

Thank you both so much for sharing this conversation. It is really helpful to read about such mindful, competent parenting from such a functional, loving family! It means more than you can imagine for those of us who can't look to our own families for this type of wisdom.

Brooke | 6:27 AM

Your mother is truly an inspiration! My biggest fear as a single mom of two young girls has always been whether I will be "mother enough". I want to be honest and empathetic and sometimes I fear I will loose sight if that. And i don't want to screw them up! Thanks for a wonderful post.

Sarah Linkner | 7:27 AM

What good advice! Love your blog!

Anonymous | 7:42 AM

Are there any parenting books that WWW relied on as you were growing up?

kim {the non-mom blogger} | 8:05 AM

I would totally read a parenting book written by WWW.

Mamalang | 8:14 AM

That last paragraph that she wrote? That was perfection. I am a HUGE believer in family suppers. It may not happen every single night, but it will happen the majority of them. My kids are older now (18, 13, and 9) and all three will tell you how important this is to them. I know that sitting at the table isn't for everyone, especially when your kids are younger, but every family needs to have a pretty non-negotiable time to sit and be together. It will go a long way to making you a unit.

Thanks for sharing this.

Muffin Cake | 8:18 AM

I love your mom and I love your relationship. I think it's hard to know what the 'right' decisions are in parenting sometimes, but as long as you raise children with love, respect, and honesty you're at least on the right road. Your mom is amazing...and so are you!

Lauren | 8:57 AM

This made me cry it was so good! I am bookmarking/printing/laminating etc for when I have children and need to navigate these same waters... Thank you.

Stephanie Green | 9:58 AM

I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this post in 15 years and not just to ogle your awesome 90's style.

Carina | 11:55 AM

I've been a blog lurker for a while, always reading what you write and soaking up your power with words. This post in particular compelled me to comment and say thank you for putting this positive parenting example out into the world. In a place where what I mostly hear is blaming parents, your relationship with your mom is refreshing and balancing. Kudos to both of you and thank you for the blog, which has become a daily staple and grounding influence for me.

Anonymous | 12:36 PM

I was badly bullied in High School. There was even a petition going around school about how I should commit suicide and hundreds of students signed it. Last month I opened up on Facebook about the bullying I suffered in High School and also about the abuse I suffered at home at the same time. I was quite surprised at the response but some was expected and validated my thoughts and feelings.
My parents were clueless about the abuse at school. My mother even taught at the same HS I went to. She was too busy with keeping up social appearances and trying to hide the fact that I was beaten daily by my father and verbally abused daily by her. I was never good enough. As a 30 something adult and mother I still feel that way. I still feel like I will never be good enough. I really don't have friends as an adult. I'm pretty much alone. You can graduate from High School and you can move out of your parents house but the scars are always there. The fear is always there.

glenda | 3:31 PM

Your relationship with your mom reminds me of my relationship with my mom. We were the best of friends and I could tell her anything and everything. She never judged me and only gave lovable advice. Unconditional love. She passed in 2004. She was my greatest example of what a mother should be like and taught me to love unconditionally.

I have a son and a daughter and since an early age I was open with them. Thankfully we have an open relationship filled with unconditional love. They tell me anything and everything.

My daughter was 6 when she asked me if I can be her sister and her best friend... and I told her I'd be anything she'd want me to be. She's older now and tells everyone that I'm her best friend. It's a relationship that continues to grow as we grow older.

Thanks for sharing your mom with all of us.

Heather | 4:32 PM

Thanks for posting this! As the mother of a daughter, I am not looking forward to the teen years... you just want to make everything wonderful and good for your kids, but there's really no way that high school isn't awkward or mortifying. I am also worried about 'mean girls.' But one thing I will tell my child, and wish every child would know is-- school doesnt last forever, it is such a small moment in a life. Being popular doesnt translate into success as an adult. It's good to be yourself and find your voice and not just be part of the pack. And usually, its the quirky and odd kids that seem to go out and have the best time in the world.

Megatron | 4:43 PM

I am going to reread this post 5 times because I really want to absorb everything you both wrote and remember it for my own daughter. I am so happy that your family is a strong unit. Mine is as well. Family dinner is definitely sooo important. Aw moms. They are just the best. (Dads too, but that's for another post.)

Caryn | 9:07 PM

Rebecca,

I LOVED this post -- thank you. My mother died when I was 11. My father remarried and I was raised by a woman who did her level best to make it all work (30 years later I still struggle with what to call her in the third person -- that's how complicated it is -- she's not my Mom and she doesn't like being called my step-mother and I'd be the first to agree that that isn't perfect, either!). My father died a few years ago, and, while I was devastated at the time of both of my parents' deaths, over the years I have come to view the losses more profoundly. Now that I have children, I SO wish I could talk to my mother about being a Mom. Perhaps because adolescence was so hard for me, I am working really, really hard to provide our children with the tools they need to navigate this tough territory. We do things like Date Nights and Family Dinners...and lead and/or volunteer for our children's activities -- scouts, soccer, etc. -- with the hope that our just "being there" will, at some point, be meaningful. I'd love to know what other people are doing!

Kendra in Dayton | 6:29 AM

WWW: Thanks for sharing. I am sending this post to my husband. We have had issues with bullying in middle school. Even with all the "no tolerance for bullying" talk it still happens. Unless there is blood shed or bones broken, not much gets done.

Heather | 11:58 AM

"My thoughts and opinions mattered. My emotions were respected. My mother empathized."

You were (and are) incredibly lucky. But you already know that.

Your mom's advice reminds me of the advice Brene Brown gives about parenting - sit with your child in the dark, etc.

Your mom is great.

Alt-Mama | 7:56 PM

Wow, this is super insightful and fascinating. What an awesome mom (and daughter, and fam). Filing that ocean liner/tugboat thing away in my brain for a far-future (thank god) parenting-an-adolescent day.

Anonymous | 8:42 AM

In my grandmother's day, her high school peers passed around "slam books" in which derogatory comments were written about classmates. I imagine her grandmother's generation had their own quaint way of harassing social outcasts.
Kids take to bullying like ducks to water. I doubt it will ever be stamped out because a significant percentage of humankind is intrinsically cruel.

April | 7:24 PM

Thank you so much for posting this! :) I'm crying so much right now because I feel that I have never shown my mom and dad the appreciation they deserve for being such awesome parents to me and my sisters --- also, I'm 36 weeks pregnant and turning a year older this week (emotional part of the year, sorry).

Reading this, I believe they follow the same principles as your mom, and I can totally relate to the tug boat and umbrella thing. My parents have always been like that as well, letting us make our own decisions but never making us feel that we are alone in anything.

Now that I'll be having a child of my own, I can only wish that I remember all these when I raise him or her. Communication, empathy, and open-mindedness --- should be easy enough, right? :)

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