Dad des­per­ate to han­dle bul­ly­ing

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports -

My daugh­ter, an eighth­grader, had al­ways en­joyed go­ing to school un­til re­cently. My wife and I have heard from some of her friends’ par­ents that she is be­ing bul­lied by two of the pop­u­lar girls, both on­line and with gos­sip be­hind her back. We have no ev­i­dence of the on­line bul­ly­ing, as it has been erased. My daugh­ter con­firms the bul­ly­ing and says one of the girls even gets in her face at school, flips her off and calls her names.

She doesn’t want us to get in­volved, be­cause she thinks that would make it even worse, so she goes about her busi­ness, smiles and at­tempts to be cor­dial with the girls. We have spo­ken to the mother of one of them be­fore, so I am con­sid­er­ing speak­ing to her about it de­spite my daugh­ter’s wishes. Their fa­thers are out of the pic­ture; one is in jail. And nei­ther mother seems to have much con­trol, so I don’t know whether my dis­cus­sion would make a dif­fer­ence.

Should I speak to the girls them­selves in a non­con­fronta­tional way about why they are do­ing this? Do you have any sug­ges­tions on how to han­dle this?

Your daugh­ter needs help, but only in a way that comes from some­one else. Have you talked to her teach­ers or ad­min­is­tra­tors? Most schools are de­ter­mined to pre­vent bul­ly­ing. The adults need to be sen­si­tive of the need to keep you and your daugh­ter out of it so it doesn’t look as if your daugh­ter came cry­ing to Daddy to fight her bat­tles. At the same time, en­cour­age the school ad­min­is­tra­tors to talk to your daugh­ter’s friends and their par­ents to find out the facts so they can con­front the bul­lies to make sure they stop. If they don’t, you might con­sider find­ing a new school. There are too many sto­ries in­volv­ing teenage bul­ly­ing that have tragic end­ings. Your aware­ness and sen­si­tiv­ity are ex­tra­or­di­nary and might well save your daugh­ter from some­thing se­ri­ous.

My wife and I were dis­cussing a reply we have no­ticed from young adults re­cently. When we are waited on in stores, restau­rants and the like, these young peo­ple re­spond to our “thank you” with “no prob­lem.”

Af­ter many years of us­ing and hear­ing “you’re wel­come” as the ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse, this an­swer — in­di­cat­ing that we are be­ing done a fa­vor — is a bit grat­ing. Granted, this is not an earth-shak­ing event, but nonethe­less we both find it less than ap­pro­pri­ate.

Could you give us your thoughts on this lin­guis­tic change?

This is a gen­er­a­tional thing. Whereas baby boomers say “you’re wel­come,” mil­len­ni­als say “no prob­lem.” They mean the same thing. As some­one who grew up hear­ing “you’re wel­come,” you find it grat­ing when some­one says “no prob­lem” be­cause you in­ter­pret it to mean that the per­son thinks he or she has done you a fa­vor. But that is al­most cer­tainly not what the per­son means. Ask any young per­son. When young peo­ple say “no prob­lem,” they are re­ally say­ing, “It’s noth­ing. No need to thank me. I was happy to serve you.” If you in­ter­pret it that way, you’ll feel a lot bet­ter about it.

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