Dear Anthony

Today’s blog post is dedicated to my son who finally broke down and informed us of a situation he has been dealing with in school. While not life-threatening, it is indeed having a negative effect on his personality as well as his everyday life of being an 8-year-old kid.

Dear son,

I write this letter in the hopes that you will understand its meaning.

I say this because I know the mind of an 8-year-old boy would much rather fantasize about being behind the wheel of a Hot Wheels car or building castles out of LEGOs, but there comes a time in your life when your well-being must be put before all else.

There comes a time to stand up, speak, and assert yourself. And that time, son, is now.

You have told Mom and I about the situation you have been dealing with at school which we find to be completely unacceptable as well as a potential violation of school policy. We also understand that you consider the person who is perpetrating their unwarranted behavior upon you to be a friend.

Mom and I see it differently because a bully is not a friend.

A bully does not need to inflict physical harm upon you. There are other ways that someone can earn the bully moniker.

When someone takes it upon themselves to intentionally seek you out every day and continuously harass you about the topic you explained to us, we consider it a form of bullying.

When this same person seeks enjoyment in making you do things you do not wish to do, we also consider it bullying.

When this person continues to verbally assault you about the subject matter and then tells you that you will “go to hell” for not believing the same things they do, we not only consider it bullying but take the matter personally.

And when someone has such control over you that you break into tears of frustration when explaining all that you’ve done to avoid them at school yet they still preach to you, it has simply gone to far.

This is why this person is not a friend and why they have no friends at school: nobody wants to hear them carry on about what they believe in. As a result, your “friendship” with them is making it difficult for you to keep or make new friends. You are a kind and caring child who refuses to hurt the feelings of this person who has broken your spirits time and time again with their non-stop pontificating about their faith – and your eventual condemnation to hell for not being a part of it.

The time has come for you to be the strong-willed son I know you can be and to let this person know that you do not appreciate their constant nagging or, more to the point, bullying.

Refuse to be their target. They have found it easy to take advantage of you because of your reluctance to put up a struggle. But take one for the team and do not let them get the best of you.

Refuse everything they try to tell you. When ignoring them gets you nowhere, simply tell them “no” to whatever it is they ask of you. Every time they open their mouth your answer should be “No thanks.”

Refuse to be around them. Walk the other way. Ignore them. Run. Do what you have to do to stay away from this person because they are not a friend.

Refuse to accept them as a friend. It’s a simple explanation: friends do not subject friends to such psychological manipulation. They seem to find great pleasure in doing this to you. It’s time to put an end to it and cut your ties with them.

Seek the assistance of school officials. Simply mention that you are being bullied and things may get taken care of. Explain everything this person has done and if it isn’t taken care of, go a step higher. If nothing gets resolved at that point, Mom and I will intervene by speaking with this person’s parents, your teacher, principal, etc.

Son, everybody has the right to believe in whatever religion or faith they choose without fear of any repercussions. Mom and I have absolutely no issues with this. And perhaps in time or when you feel the need to, you may consider joining a religion that you feel conveys a message you feel comfortable with. And again, we have no issues when it is your choice.

However, when someone literally hangs on you every day and is forcing their beliefs upon you and belittling you for not following their instructions in order to adhere to their faith, or for not being a part of any one religion, this is bullying and should not be tolerated.

There is a time and a place for what they speak of and in our opinion, a parochial school is a more appropriate forum. Since you do not attend a parochial school, we will not let our own flesh and blood be continually pushed in a direction he refuses to be regardless of the circumstances or subject matter. We would feel the same way if you were being harassed for having brown eyes, an unsightly scar, etc. It makes no difference because in any case, this type of behavior is unacceptable.

We will not spend another Sunday evening listening to the details of everything this person has made you do or tried to make you do, some of which you have absolutely no understanding of (and quite honestly, neither do they at 8 years of age).

We want nothing more than to have you attend class and come home with goofy little smiles on your assignments and your face. We want you to be the best kid you can be and to able to attend school without remorse, embarrassment, or humiliation. Continue to think freely and do the things you do, which is one of the qualities your friends – your true friends – have come to love and appreciate about you.

You are you and that’s beautiful, son. Be yourself. Do silly things. Don’t let anybody make you be who they want you to be because they simply can’t.

Take a stand. And come home from school beaming with the happiness that we know is inside of you but been repressed as the result of what you’ve been dealing with.

We love you,
Mom and Dad