My heart sincerely breaks for the loss of Jessica Ridgeway and my thoughts are with the family today. I can only hope Jessica's family will be able to find inner peace to both heal and move forward for their future.
When horrific news like this is announced, it sends shock waves through every loving parent's body, no matter how one chooses to raise their child or children. As the news of Jessica's fate came about yesterday, there was immediate chatting on the street, parents were writing about how they felt on blogs, and some were discussing changes they were going to possibly make to protect their own children.
However, as expected, the usual attacks began in regard to parenting style and choices. Some parents said they were going to make changes in how their child gets to school or how they may supervise them differently in the future. I noticed parents attacking each other for their choices, accusing parents to be overprotective, throwing out stats on child accidents versus abductions, and making statements that were simply unjust and unfair.
Maybe some parents overreacted, maybe some under-reacted, and many were probably indifferent.
It doesn't matter.
As parents, we have no right to judge the parenting style of each other. Every parent has the right to take care of their child as they wish, overprotective or free range, we all have the right to parent without being judged out loud and/or in a critical manner. We have the right to express our feelings, however, we don't have the right to be mean, harshly critical, and/or attacking toward one another, especially in front of our own children. As long as a parent is not hurting his/her child or anyone else, he/she has the right to raise their child as they wish, without being attacked for their choices.
Parents judging other parents for their choices on how to raise their child, and voicing those opinions in an angry manner may not follow the exact definition of bullying, however, it is the launching pad. When parents behave in this manner, they become the leading example in passively stating that it is okay to judge someone based on their personal beliefs, feelings and behaviors.
In respect of Anti-Bullying Prevention month, I believe this topic is the perfect example of how consciously or sub-consciously we create an acceptable behavior for our kids. We quietly say that it is okay to look at another person and express how we feel about who they are, what they are doing, and the choices they make.
It is within that critical moment that we become the epitome of a bully in the making.
As parents, we need to stop, think and remember that little ears are listening, modeling and following our paths. Let's set a better example.