Bullies Have Parents, Too
Typically, I hate to rant about offensive movies, TV shows and songs, because I can often find some redeeming qualities behind what everyone is complaining about. I guess I think “the ranters” aren’t looking at every side of the story AND they’re not being respectful of the creator’s freedom of speech and expression — the same freedom that allows them to criticize the work. However, at risk of seeming hypocritical, I just can’t get past the lyrics in a certain song that my 7-year-old daughter has been singing recently. And since the only way to get something out of my head is to write it down, here goes:
It’s the Taylor Swift song called “Mean.” A teacher even provided the students with a back story on Taylor’s reasons for writing the song, which she turned into a lesson of anti-bullying (as my daughter retold me). Great, right? Well, the refrain says, “Someday I’ll be living in a big old city…and all you’re ever gonna be is mean.”
I cringe at the thought of anyone being told all they are ever going to be is “mean”… even if that “anyone” is a bully. When I was telling a good friend about my issue with the song today, she brought up the point that everyone has, at some moment in their lives, been mean to someone. Personally, I was not what others would have called a childhood bully. But, there have been a few people throughout my life that have been unfair victims of large doses of my sarcasm. And that is being kind to myself. In truth, I was mean to them for no reason other than they annoyed me.
Now, with all due respect to Taylor, she’s not a mom or a school counselor or a teacher. As a singer/songwriter, she was responding in the best way she knew to being mistreated by someone. That is Miss Swift’s right, but, as a mom, I hope my child never hears those same words directed at her; I also hope those words never come out of my child’s mouth. To me, those words in Swift’s lyrics are harsher than any four-letter ones, because they have the power to embed in the mind of a child. And they are not even true—everyone is something more than mean.
Truly, bullying is a problem in our country. And I get just as angry and defensive for my children as anyone when I sense someone is treating my kids unfairly. But, the bullies have moms who love them. And dads. And hearts. And dreams for what they will be. And though it is very, very, very difficult, if we repay the bullies with the same hurtful words and behavior, telling ourselves we are justified in doing so, are we really any different from them? And is that all we’re ever going to be?
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