Is a conversation powerful enough to stop bullying?
There's A LOT of parenting stuff on Facebook. Pictures of people's kids. Shared articles about how to get them to [fill in the blank here with whatever you need your kids to do right now. Sleep? Eat more than cheese? Stop being snarky?].
The vast majority of this parenting stuff flows by without notice, because--hey--there are only so many hours in a day. Sometimes we have to actually parent instead of reading about it.
But when a mom posts a status update that gets 5,843 shares and 19,632 likes within seven hours, it's worth pausing to notice.
That's what happened yesterday when Glennon of Momastery posted a status update about how her friend's daughter is being bullied, and about how powerless bullying can make parents feel.
Clearly, this subject resonates with others. Who of us hasn't been touched in some way by bullying? Or hasn't felt powerless by it?
This mini-essay/status update didn't offer advice about bullying per se. But the author did say something that caught our attention. She said that good questions leading to good conversation help fight bullying—so ask your kids good questions. (In this instance, she loosely defines “good” as questions that address the heart. You can read a few example questions in her status update.)
What do you think about this advice? Is good conversation a powerful force against bullying?
On the surface, this idea seems agreeable. But the kind of conversation that gets to the heart is easier said than done.
Here’s one common challenge to heart-conversations: the urgency of everyday demands
For instance, we liked this popular tweet from @DanielRCarrillo because it’s so relatable:
"Marriage is just texting each other 'Do we need anything from the grocery store?' a bunch of times until one of you dies.”
Isn’t that how it feels sometimes?
The truth is that it’s hard to make time for deeper questions when we need answers to:
- What's for dinner?
- How was school?
- How'd you do on that test?
- When's practice?
- Where's the game?
- What's your homework tonight?
Deep down we desire more from our conversations
Though these communications are important, deeper down we all desire more. Nobody really wants a marriage that never reaches beyond the grocery list. Likewise, our kids want (and need) to be invited to share more about their lives. (Yes—even the teens who--in spite of their persistent eye-rolling--honestly want to know they're valued enough to warrant good questions.)
We have the best conversational role model
Fortunately, we have one conversational role model to look to for help: Jesus. He had a way of cutting through the static of everyday demands and getting right to the heart of the people he was talking with. His example suggests we should do the same.
Thankfully we’re not alone in this endeavor. As Jesus promised, we have the Holy Spirit to guide our lives, including our conversations. He can give us insight into what to say, and when to say it. Just ask and listen.
One good question isn’t powerful enough to stop bullying. But a whole childhood spent in conversations that get to the heart is powerful enough to transform lives, one family at a time.
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