One undeniable truth is that your “Little Bobby, or “Little Jenny,” come from homes in which they hear and see stuff you do or not do. They watch the same TV programs and read the same magazines you watch or don’t watch. Should you make a disparaging comment about “those people,” they’re within earshot, taking it all in. They see who are in your social circles and who are not. So based on what they have observed from an early age mixed with power of peer pressure, they may become the “stranger” you didn’t see coming.
So what can you do? “Lisa” suggests parents take preventive steps early at home.
“For Bob, I suggest they watch “What would you do?” episodes with John Quinones and debrief. Talk about what is not ok and what to do when you are the only one who stands up and says “Stop that’s not cool” when everyone else is doing what you know is wrong. Understand that peer pressure is real.
I taught my daughter to say “My mom won’t let me do that” which made me the bad guy as an excuse to extract her from bad situations. I would rather be the Mean Tiger Mom than my kid getting put into a situation she could not get out of because she was afraid to speak up. Blaming mom was a good excuse that worked every time.
Kids in that truck could have been taught to say “My parents won’t let me participate in this kind of stuff, so let me out of this truck now. Some other kid who may feel the same way will be relieved too and will say, “yes, me too!”
In the end, I wish I could find more definitive answers for both “Pat” and “Bob.” But in the absence of any, “Pat,” you have your work cut for you in repairing your grandbaby’s confidence and self-esteem. “Lisa’s” advice may help. And “Bob,” although the episode is behind you, hopefully your experience will encourage other parents to come to grips with their blind spots before embarrassment comes knocking and the protestors and story-hungry media show up.
And God Bless you both!
© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller. He is also a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, BlackMarket.com, The American Diversity Report, The Douglas County Sentinel, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Echo World, co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award and author of the book “Through The Years, the storied history of Black Augusta County Athletes from 1912 to the present.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org