Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Archive for April, 2013

Disturbing Trends in Home Schooling

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I am old. I have seen home schooling evolve. When I was young there were very few options. And even the options that were available have changed. Home schooling was a challenge. It was not socially acceptable, but the children that came out of those few home schools did exceptionally well, so many followed.

Churches began advocating for home schooling. It became the ‘good Christian’ thing to do, and some girls grew up aspiring to become home school moms. (I’m glad we made it look so appealing.)

But home schooling is hard work, and somehow we failed to get this across. Maybe because we were having so much fun doing it, and didn’t mind the work. Maybe because we saw it as so important, and didn’t think to complain. Maybe because we enjoyed the time and company of our children. Maybe because we were too afraid to fail. Maybe because we were already those odd home schoolers we stopped judging each other, and relaxed in each other’s homes so we actually formed close friendships and allowed each other to be unique. (And I loved my friends who lived on farms during this time. After my children saw what farm chores looked like, what I asked them to do looked easy!)

Today when I talk to a new home schooling mom the first few questions seem to be, “How can I home school without doing much work?” and “How can I home school and still have the perfect house, body, and lots of free-time etc?” The truth is, to do it well, you can’t. The key to home schooling success is for the children to realize that mom (and dad) takes this serious, and considers their education important. (This is also the key to school success, by the way.) Sure, you can put your child in front of a computer, or send him to classes for home schoolers, but it is not the same. Parental investment is what made home schooling work.

“But I don’t know how to teach Algebra?” So, neither did many of the moms who home schooled years before, so they learned. Some learned along with the child, some studied on their own, and some took classes. Why? Because teaching their children was important. And the truth is, a home school mother needs to know a lot of stuff. If you are young and your goal is to be a home schooling parent, then you should be paying more attention in high school, not less, and plan on going to college, and studying, rather than trying to land a husband. (The husband will come in its own time, and being a hard-worker who is serious about raising good kids usually lands you a better one!) The better educated the parent who will be in charge of the home school; the better educated the children. But that does not mean you have to have a college degree. Many awesome moms did not. BUT, they were willing to work. They learned so their children would learn. They may not have done it when they were younger, which would have made it easier on them, but they did do it. And they are now grammar nazis with red pens, math mavens who can do times tables in their sleep etc. (They also know how to turn learning into fun, don’t get the wrong impression here.)

Home schooling is a wonderful thing. The children who have been home schooled are typically kind, unique individuals who are generally happy in life. This will not continue to be so if home school becomes a ‘chore’ for mom, something she obviously does not want to do because it interferes with other things. It will also not be done well if mom keeps saying she ‘can’t’ teach, because what will be taught is that it is okay to give up and not do the hard stuff. I hate writing this, because I love home school and home schooling families. Everyone is unique, and generally wonderful, but I fear for the future as more and more young Christian girls demonstrate that they did not pay attention in high school and are not going to college because they are going to be home school moms. And then, when their children arrive, they look for ways to get out of teaching them because they need to keep the house clean and do not feel competent to teach. Let me put it this way- if you are going to home school, you are going to sacrifice. There is only so much time in the day. When the children are little there will be clutter, as they get older they will learn to help and it will get better, IF you invest the time in teaching them to do so. (I have actually met home schoolers who do not know how to cook and do laundry. Since they stay at home with mom, how did they miss this? They should be at your knee helping, as they are able, with everything you do.) There will be less time for mom to go to the gym by herself, but more time for mom to join in on whatever game is going on in the backyard, which is not as calorie burning since you must not run over the little ones. BUT, your example, of hard work, of turning work into fun, and just plain enjoying the investment you are making in the lives of your children is what results in adult children who enjoy what they are called to do and know how to cherish people, even when it is not convenient.

I recently read a Ron Paul article on his new curriculum. (I wish I could find the exact one for you.) In it he says, in typical Ron Paul style, that if you do not like how he is doing this, teach your children yourself, as many other home school families have in the past. It seems that even Ron Paul acknowledges that his curriculum is second best to the parent actually teaching the child themselves. I am not saying that you can never use outside resources. What I am saying is that you must be involved. Listen to what is being taught, and comment on everything, good and bad. This is how you pass down your values and how your children get to know you. If you want to educate your children in the way they should go, then they need to know what that way is. (And you need to model it.) If you are not teaching them, then who is? And do you fully agree with them? And if you do, are you teaching them to listen and repeat what someone on a video says, or are you discussing it so they learn to think critically and understand why you, and the person on the video, came to these conclusions. This is your job. Teach your children well, and you will be proud to call them yours when they are adults.

Is Sin Relative?

Photo by Matija Barrett

Photo by Matija Barrett

Micah Murray asked a few questions on Twitter that I felt should be answered. Unfortunately, to answer responsibly will take a lot longer than 140 characters, and probably longer than most blog posts should be…
He asks about Rahab, and it being seemingly okay for her to lie about the spies hidden on her roof, about the God-commanded genocide in Canaan, and whether sin is relative. These are all excellent questions, and they are often answered with platitudes that convey very little that satisfies that asker.

So here we go…

The first question is: Is there any time when it is okay to lie? And the answer is yes. In my sarcastic/snarky way I usually sum it up like this, “For the most part, God does not condone lying. In the Bible the devil is known as the Father of Lies, and the need to tell the whole truth is heavily stressed. BUT, when a crazed psychopath bent on killing someone barges into your house and asks where someone is in order to kill them you can lie your bottom off.”

How do I come to this conclusion? When the midwives lied to Pharaoh to save babies, they, childless women, were blessed with children of their own. (Ex. 1) When Samuel goes to anoint David as the next king of Israel, and Samuel expresses his fear of Saul to God, God tells him to tell Saul he is merely going to make a sacrifice (which he does do). Why? Because Saul will likely try to kill the next king in order to secure the throne for his children, which he does when he finds out. (1 Sam. 16) Rahab too lies to save lives. We have a bit more trouble with this one, since these men are spies, a job we do not usually consider ‘innocent.’ There are extenuating circumstances here. (Remember, the prostitute is the most godly person in this town.) Canaan and Jericho are not good places. (More on this later. Right now just take my word for it.) It would not be proper to destroy a place without seeing how the people behave for yourselves, so spying, by responsible individuals is proper in this situation. (Jos. 6)

This leads us to the next question: Why is genocide okay in the Old Testament?

What we see in the Bible, during the time of Canaan, are a large number of tiny communities bent on destroying one another whenever possible. Here is a list of their heinous activities:
1. Raiding for fun. (1 Sam 13:17-21)
2. Going to war every spring. (2 Sam 11:1, 1 Chron. 20:1)
3. Killing the wives and children of others. (2 Kings 8:12)
4. Enslaving anyone they wish to oppress. (Judges 2:14)
5. Rape and torture. (Dt. 28:30)
6. Stealing food so the people will starve. (Judges 6:11)
7. Destroying fields and crops so the people starve for fun. (Judges 6:3)
8. Orgies and forced prostitution. (1 Kings 14:24)
9. Sacrificing their oldest child to gain blessings from their gods. (2 Kings 3:27)
10. Burying their youngest child in the foundation of their homes (most likely alive) to bless their house. (archeology)
11. Leaving unwanted babies on rocks to die in the weather or from animal attack. (old writings)
12. Heinous tortures before killing prisoners. (archeology)
13. Killing the old, young and pregnant at the back of a caravan for sport. (Dt. 25:18)
14. Ripping babies out of pregnant women’s bellies while they are still alive. (2 Kings 15:16)
15. Watching baby animals slowly die as they are boiled in their mother’s milk. (Ex. 23:19)
16. Putting their children ‘through the fire’ to see if the gods meant for the baby to live. (Dt. 12:31)

Remember Gideon, who was hiding in a wine press trying to thresh grain where no one would see him? There was a good reason for this. If the neighbors the Israelites did not kill when they were told to saw him they would take the grain, or destroy it, and his family would starve to death slowly that winter. These were people who did evil for fun. (Judges 6)

God does not condone, even during this time, the mass extinction of just anyone. The Israelites are to remain within their boundaries, and are not to keep a standing army. (1 Sam 8:12) They will only have a volunteer force of men 20 and over for defense. (Num 1:3, Dt. 20:8) The rest of the time the men will be at home working their land. (1 Sam 8)

So why did the Israelites need to kill the women and children as well? Aren’t they innocent?
The Bible gives us some answers to this in the story of Haman, and another child that was left alive.
Haman is an Agagite, meaning he is descended from Agag, the king Saul was supposed to kill. Tradition tells us that between the time Saul captured Agag, and Samuel arrived, Agag escaped, hid with a concubine and she conceived. The result was the line that produced Haman. Haman was not part of a group that wished to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. (1 Sam 15, Esther 9:24) 1 Kings 11 also tells us about a baby who grows into a man who causes great trouble for Israel, though in his case Joab was wrong for killing his people…

Further, many remind us that the innocent go to heaven. If they had continued to live here, learning to hate, this would likely not be their eternal fate. We also see, in the rescue of Lot, that God does save the righteous from destruction when there is hope.

Still, the genocide we see in the Bible occurs in extremely limited times, and for extremely limited reasons. Abraham is told that the land cannot be his because the sin of the people in the land is not great enough to warrant eviction. (Gen 15:16) We see that the people who fled Canaan were not killed, only the ones who stayed. (Gen. 9:4) And we see, once the era of warlords and terrorists ceases in this area, the Biblical instruction is to obey the laws of the oppressors and work to bless them. (Jer. 29:7, Lk 6:28) Orders to wipe everyone out are only for those who are extreme in their cruelty as a society, and, it seems, only with a very clear mandate from God.
So, is it all relative when it comes to sin? Not in the way most people speak of it today, but in many ways, yes, it is.

We have seen that you may lie to protect the innocent, but let us look at a few more examples.

Aaron’s oldest sons offered incense of their own design, instead of doing what God told them, and they were smote. Right after this Aaron’s younger sons did not eat the portion of the offering as God told them to, but instead burned the whole thing. They disobeyed, but were not smote. Why? Because their motive was to please God. They felt they were not worthy to eat part of the offering due to what had happened to their brothers today. (Lev. 10:19-20)
We then see the priest giving the Bread of Presence to David and his men to eat, even though it is set aside to be eaten by the High Priests alone. Jesus emphasizes that this was not a sin. Why? Likely because David’s men were truly in need of food. They had come to the Tent of Meeting hoping to share in a fellowship offering (which was typically offered and shared with all who were there). There was no food, even the regular offerings seem to be missing. Why? Because the people were not sacrificing as they should. The priest is now in a bind. He can either refuse hospitality, and refuse to feed truly hungry men, or break God’s rule. God’s rule was likely meant so the priests were provided for. Here David and his men have a greater need, and it is apparently okay to prioritize that need. (Mk. 2:25-28)

We also see in Hosea 4:14 that God refused to punish the women who turn to prostitution and adultery because of the actions of the men that lead to this corruption.

This does not mean that we allow everyone to do whatever they want. Jewish theologians point out that these situations typically occur when one commandment is in conflict with another, so one must weigh the two and decide which is the more important one to follow. We do this today.

No one calls an ectopic pregnancy that is treated by removing the embryo growing in the fallopian tube an abortion. Why? Because the baby will not survive if left to grow there, and it will likely kill the mother, cause her serious problems, or affect her future fertility if left alone too long. Would it be nice if we could relocate the embryo and allow the pregnancy to continue? Sure, but we are not there yet, so we have to make a choice. And since the choice is baby and mom die, or just baby die, we choose to remove the baby.

We also allow police to enter a home if they have reason to believe someone is being attacked without a warrant. Preventing a murder supersedes your right to privacy.

So, how did we all learn that there was never a time to lie in most of our churches, and that morality was black and white, when the Bible clearly teaches it is not always that way?

Most people point to a man named Immanuel Kant. Despite his name he was not a Christian, but a philosopher who taught a very absolute view of morality. This philosophy leaked into he church, and has remained part of many sermons. The Jewish people do not appreciate his teachings, since many Jewish people were saved because of the lies told by their Gentile neighbors. Kant would have been honest, to the detriment of the Gentile and the people they were protecting…

Gandhi had a similar problem. His teachings of non-violence worked well in India, against England, a country that had a few people in charge at the time whose morality could be appealed to, once one got their attention. Gandhi then wrote to England advising them not to resist Hitler, telling them that their non-resistance would cause Hitler to see his sin and change his ways. The Jewish people were not impressed by this advice either.

As we see, there is a time for certain actions, but other times completely different means are necessary. It takes wisdom to know when to do what. This is why we must study our scripture, talk about it, and debate every option in depth before situations occur, because life is not easy. It is not an ‘if this then this’ style of existence. Sure, there are things one must absolutely not do, but then there are the extremes, when life is so full of sin and wrong choices that it is hard to know how to work your way out. This is why we need to study, and pray, and remain close to God, not so much for the easy days, but for the days when nothing seems like a good choice.

Being In the World, But Not Of the World…

Photo by Matija Barrett

Photo by Matija Barrett

Being In the World, But Not Of the World… What does this mean?

The Pharisees were big on extra laws and restrictive holiness, so that can’t be it…

Unlike Paul who says he was all things to all people…

What does this mean?

For me it means that, while I am to avoid sin, I am not to avoid everything. There are things that hold no temptation for me, so instead of avoiding them like a prude (making people uncomfortable) I have reached a maturity where I can listen, discuss and possibly persuade someone who is trapped by these desires to overcome their addictions.

This means that if I am not tempted by alcohol, I can minister to the alcoholic, where they are at. Not asking them to come to church or forfeit the gospel, but telling them about Christ’s love where they currently reside, whether it be a bar, home or homeless shelter.

This means that if I am not tempted to shed my clothes, I may become a minister to those who do. Those who strip, are caught up in prostitution, or simply live a lifestyle that says they crave appreciation in all the wrong ways. And I can meet them where they are at, not placing the burden on them to show up in my white-washed world, but rather by going to where they live, work and relax, not as a Pharisee, perfect in my condemnation, but as a sinner who was saved by the same grace that I present to them.

But how am I to do this if my definition of holiness involves my avoidance of all that is unseemly? And am I truly following Christ by keeping my associations pure? Did not Christ walk with prostitutes (Mary M.), thieves (Judas), the greedy (Matthew), terrorists (Simone the Zealot) and women of loose morals (the woman at the well)? Did He not allow a woman to wipe His feet with her hair and kiss Him excessively in her sorrow? (Lk 7:38) Did He ever rebuke her for doing things that ‘appeared’ sinful?

So if this isn’t ‘the appearance of evil,’ then what is?

Perhaps the ‘appearance of evil’ is when we make it look like we are part of the crowd in order to not be made fun of, instead of standing up for what is right. Perhaps it is when we do not clear up misconceptions that keep people from thinking we are Christians who do not agree with them. Perhaps it is when we do not stand up to the bully, making it look like we don’t see anything wrong, for fear of becoming the victim? Perhaps it is not so much the ministry to the sinner that we are to avoid, but the act of not letting the non-believer know, by your actions that you are a follower of Christ?

Both avoiding the sinner where they are at, and allowing the sinner to believe you are like them so they do not mock you are similar at the root. They both keep you comfortable, and do not put you in situations where your Christianity will make you uncomfortable. But is this really ‘taking up your cross’ and fulfilling the Great Commission? Or are both extremes misinterpretations of scripture designed to help avoid what we are really called to do- get into the trenches and save the lost?

The Bible on Exercise

Photo by Matija Barrett

Photo by Matija Barrett

1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 11:10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless. (NIV)

Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (NIV)

Proverbs 13:25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry. (NIV)

VS

Proverbs 23:21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. (NIV)

Proverbs 32:2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. (NIV)

Proverbs 31:17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 12:12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. (NIV)

It’s about balance…

Our society today seems to have lost track of this fact. We are literally harpooning (pun intended) people with our sarcastic remarks. About what? Their behavior? (Which might be appropriate, especially if they are hurting somebody…) No, about their weight.

Why?

Because the culture has changed. Instead of a nice Rubenesque figure, we have decided pencil thin is the ideal. So we are using the Bible to support what the culture says. It’s been done before, but be careful. Most of the time it has been done in error; taking quotes out of context and making them fit what you wish to support.

So remember a few things:

1. Gluttony is more about using resources selfishly so that someone else will now have to do without. Why is this bad? When it comes to food it means that you are eating in excess knowing that someone else needs the food and will starve when it runs out. This explains why gluttony is a major sin, but it is thankfully not the state we live in today.

2. There are many reasons for weight gain. Some are genetic, some are disease states, and some are habits and laziness. Look at the person’s life before you criticize and remember:

Philippians 2:30 …because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me. (NIV)

There are some whose weight gain is due to stress. They have prioritized (sometimes correctly) something over their own needs. They have too much to do, or too great a burden, and that takes its toll. Life is not perfect, and sometimes there is no help available. Something must give, and often it is our health, our time for relaxation and exercise. Tired people do not go to the gym when they get a break- they try to catch up on their rest. Do not increase their burden by making them feel bad for not doing one more thing. And make sure that the reason they are burdened is not because of your laziness and lack of help… (If your gym time puts an excessive burden on your spouse, their weight gain is, in part, your fault.)

I am of course not advocating ill health and laziness. I am only saying that we need to step back and realize that, in the entire scheme of things, being godly trumps all.

Help with quotes from: http://www.blueletterbible.org

Bullies

Photo by Matija Barrett

Photo by Matija Barrett

I am tired of hearing about children dying. I am tired of hearing trite, easy solutions. I am tired of seeing nothing constructive being done….

The main problem with bullies is that they operate under the radar. They are not the guy who punches you in the face and beats you in a fair fight. Nor are they the girl who is mad at you one day, and best friends the next. This is normal childhood behavior, and while it sucks, it is not what drives children to suicide. Bullying is a whole lot more…

Bullying occurs when a small group of kids develop a pack behavior. There is usually a leader, but he/she always has back-up, and the children not involved with the pack know to steer clear and allow whatever they are doing to go uninterrupted. Leaving and pretending not to notice is what the ‘good’ kids do, and who can blame them? This pack knows how to make a person’s life miserable in ways that are difficult to define and report. They also know how to suck up to the teachers and other people in authority. Bullies are rarely the ‘bad’ kids. No, they are the ‘popular’ kids. The ones teachers like, and other children want to have as their friends, not because they are so nice, but because not being liked by them makes you ‘left out.’

A true bully cannot be overcome by beating him in a fight, or finding a way to become her friend. If you do embarrass a bully, they will enlist help and tomorrow, and the next day and the next, you will pay. There is no way to defend yourself against a bully. True bullies do not ever allow themselves to be that vulnerable. Here are some of the things that bullies do:

They make their target feel ‘special.’ They treat them as if they are popular, or wonderful, and when they believe the target has relaxed and bought into it, they pull the rug out from under them. Bullies will go so far as to elect a person homecoming queen, or have a guy ask her to the prom. The girl has no choice but to buy the nice dress, and go through the motions, hoping it may be true. Then, at the last minute, the bullies will do something to let her know that this kind of honor could never really be hers and that she was a fool for thinking it would. Because of this the victim will grow to never trust anyone being nice to them. When they do have a good time with friendly people, they will go home and cry. Why? Because they want it to be real, can’t trust that it is, and don’t want it to go away. Socially awkward kids crave acceptance too.

Bullies pick on things the child cannot change, and things that are very personal. They know when people are watching, and choose their moments. Bullies love bathrooms, where a person feels most vulnerable. Many victims learn to hold their bladders until they get home. This is extremely tough on a girl with her period…

Bullies make it seem like everyone feels the same way they do. They set up scenarios that seemingly prove this. One group sent a blank sheet of paper around a class, claiming it was an attendance sheet. (Since the teacher had never taken attendance this way, everyone knew it was a set-up, but no one had the guts to not sign it.) After everyone had signed the sheet, they added a nasty paragraph to the top explaining that everyone who had signed did not like the person for the various cruel reasons listed. Bullies often enlist teachers too, using the schools rules to claim the victim was cheating, or cutting class when it was the bullies who somehow caused them to be detained etc.

Victims of bullying often develop ways of coping. One of my friends remembers a child who carried celery in his shirt pocket, neatly cut up, like a row of pens. Whether the child realizes it, or not, this is a self-preservation technique. If the children pick on him it is now not because they hate him, but because of the celery. The solution is not to get rid of the celery. In fact, getting rid of the celery will make it worse because the child will still be picked on, but now it is personal again.

Our old pediatrician had an interesting thought about acutane, the wonderful acne medication that sometimes leads to suicide. His theory was that the child with severe acne assumes that, when the acne disappears, they will no longer be picked on in school. As the acne resolves, and they continue to be a target, they become depressed, and end their life.

Why do people become the target? Typically it is because they are socially awkward. They may have acne, birthmarks, or just a high, or low IQ that keeps them from fitting in with their peers. It is not their social lack of ability that is the problem. Most people can find ways of liking and accepting them of given time. It is their isolation that makes them the perfect target. The wolves never go for the animal in the middle of the herd, no matter how defenseless the herd is; they always wait for an animal to be alone.

So what can we do?

As adults we can recognize the behavior of bullies for what it is, and actually do something about it. Punishing the bully directly will only make it worse. What needs to be done is to take away the bullies’ power. To do this, when you find the ‘attendance sheet’ with all of the names on it, you must make it public, and embarrassing for the ‘good kids’ so that it becomes less likely for it to happen again. But do it when the victim is not available, or you are just increasing their humiliation. Adults must also stop getting sucked into catering to the bullies. They are not your best friend, nor do they think you are the coolest teacher ever. These are ploys that allow them to do whatever they want without consequences. Don’t fall for them.

Since bullying is so far under the radar you will never totally eradicate it. But you can do things to help the victim. Gifted classes, special interest clubs etc where small groups of social misfits can find that niche where they feel accepted and loved help. But know that the bullies will show up. They will feign an interest in an attempt to destroy the club. This is what typically happens:

A group of socially awkward kids begin to enjoy an activity, like the school newspaper. It is a small group, and the teacher in charge would really like to see it grow. The popular kids show up. The teacher is ecstatic that they are showing an interest in something he/she loves. But on some level the teacher knows that they are not there to work, so she cuts them some slack. They are not held accountable for the things she assigns, and she gives them the best assignments that everyone who has been loyal to the paper wants. The children who loved working on the paper now hate it. Why? Because they are doing more work, since they have to make up for the things the popular kids are doing poorly, or not doing at all, leaving what used to be an easy task as a rush job to be done at the last minute. They are also not getting to do the things they really love, since these perks go to the kids the teacher is trying to bribe into staying. The original children are also getting picked on in a place that used to be a sanctuary. Not that the teacher would notice. First, bullies are always careful, and if they do get caught they are gifted at twisting the facts to make it look like they were not doing anything wrong, at least not knowingly. And second, the teacher is so motivated to get these children to stay that they ignore obvious problem behaviors. (Knowing a person may leave makes people chase after and cater to them.) Further, the bullies usually have a favorite teacher or two they can complain to that will talk to the teacher in charge and ‘fix’ things for them.

So how do we do things differently? We treat the popular kids the same as everyone else. When they show up they are required to learn, and are held accountable for the work assigned. They do not get breaks. We also make it so that the children who have been loyal, hardworking and ‘good’ feel that they can come to us with complaints. We then take their complaints seriously, and do something about them. If the paper needs to be late, who cares? We never, ever make a conscientious child pay for the laziness of another, and we let it be known, as a fact, kindly, not meanly, that by not doing what they are assigned the bully is the problem, but help is available if they need it- by the teacher. Never, ever force the victim to help the bully. This only gives the bully the opportunity to make things worse and traps the victim by placing him in a situation he does not feel he can get out of.

We also show love to the victim. Real love. Find ways to support what the victim likes, or teach the victim things they do not know, like how to dress, do their hair, put on make-up etc. But, do not expect the victim to do these things on a regular basis. A plain girl, when she suddenly looks beautiful will be bullied more than if she had not done anything, but these skills will help her in the future, when she is in a new situation and no one knows her yet, to not look like the type of person the bullies seek to destroy. (I called make-up my ‘war paint’ and put it on mainly when I knew I would be in a situation I felt forced to ‘do battle’ in. I grew out of the ugly duck stage and into a swan, and then back to an ugly duck- but at 43 that is more acceptable…)

Do not trivialize bullying. Do not ignore it. You will never catch everything a bully does, nor stop it entirely, so support the victim. If the victim is so socially awkward that you cannot honestly love them, then find people who can. No child should be made to feel so unloved that they cry when someone is nice to them, or kill themselves because no one seemed to care.

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