From the time our children come into our lives, the one almost instant and constant change is worry. When Ava was a little baby I worried about whether she was sleeping enough, drinking enough, being stimulated enough. With each milestone and each birthday that passes, the worries change but I am finding that the older she gets the bigger my worries have become. I am a conscious parent & person, I’m not the type of person who can bury my head in the sand and continue to repeat that everything will be fine. I am proactive and look for proactive ways to consciously parent my child to ensure that she is raised to be everything SHE wants to be and everything we want her to be – confident, compassionate, thoughtful, integrity and with a strong sense of self worth.
I’m realising more and more that when it comes to raising a child, we can only lay the foundation for them, teach them morals and hope that when they are faced with difficult choices, they will make the right choice for them. This of course is not an easy thing to do, as parents we give our children wings in the hope that they soar but if they crash, we need to be there to pick up the pieces for them.
But what happens if their crash is so damaging they can never recover? This thought really terrifies me and with each passing year, I become more and more fearful of the years ahead, of raising a tween and a teen. When she reaches the age where she wants to and needs to make her own choices and what the repercussions of those choices will be.
One such story that has frightened, horrified and scared the living cr*p out of me is the tragic suicide of Amanda Todd. This 15 year old girl committed suicide on the 10th October after enduring a lengthily and harrowing cyber-bullying experience.
Please watch the video she made in September, that details her horrendous experience and ultimately lead to her suicide:
I watched this video yesterday and it left me feeling depressed for the remainder of the day. The extent of this bullying went on after she was dead. With naked photo’s of her on the autopsy table being circulated online and messages from those involved celebrating the fact that she was dead, that her attempts at suicide had finally worked.
Now I’m sure some people are thinking: “big deal, it’s just a topless photo” or that the cyber-bullying wasn’t that bad but I think it’s important to remember, Amanda was 15 years old. She was just a child, who did not have the emotional maturity or experience to deal with the bullying, threats and physical violence. She was not yet an adult with a strong sense of self, she did the best she could to cope in her circumstance, as a child. I have been the victim of cyber-bullying before and even as an adult I will say this – it hurt and at times it scared me and I was a 30 something adult, not a 15 year old child.
This story really upset and scared me. What if Amanda Todd was my daughter? What if that was Ava… driven to suicide by bullies who went out of their way to make her life a living hell? Or what if Ava were one of the bullies?
I believe this story highlights many points for us as parents, none of which I want to go into to much detail about because I am most certainly not assigning blame to either Amanda or her parents in this tragedy.
But it scares me and it makes me worry for my own child, for what she will be faced with in the future, for who she may be exposed to and makes me worry about what choices she may make and the consequences there of.
Footnote: The internet vigilantes: Anonymous hackers’ group outs man, 32, ‘who drove girl, 15, to suicide by spreading topless photos of her