Last month, I wrote about Dads on Duty, a group of fathers stepping up to the plate for their kids at Southwood High School where several fights had taken place over the course of a week, resulting in several arrests. Since the Dads on Duty started showing up at the school, there have been no fights and no arrests.
Today, I’m writing about a Mom who gets it right, coming to her kid’s rescue, but also inspiring him to stand up for himself in the face of bullies.
For Halloween, ten-year-old Evan went to school dressed up as Tony Stark, whose alter ego, Iron Man, is a hero of the Marvel universe. But, bullies on Evan’s school bus told him he looked stupid and that everyone at school would make fun of him. Disheartened, Evan went to the bathroom as soon as he arrived at school and washed his make-up off. Then his Mom, Jill Stahl Struckman, got a call from a tearful Evan who said he didn’t want to stay for the school Halloween party. Jill picked up her boy but, instead of taking him home to lick his wounds, took him to Starbucks to talk about it over some refreshment. After a good talk, Evan decided he would go back to school for the party. Jill took him home, reapplied his makeup (which, as you can see by the pics in the article, was AWESOME!) and Evan went to the party and had a great time.
When I was working on my Master of Arts in Teaching at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), one of our professors taught us that all the research on childhood development demonstrated that parents are the number one influence on the lives of their children well into the later teens. Not peer groups. Not rock bands. Not cultural influences or influencers. Parents. Despite the advent of social media over the last three decades since I earned that degree, I don’t think that has changed. The impact parents have on their children, both for good or ill, is immense. Good parents ought to take heart in that fact. Every parents ought to heed that fact. Our presence, our example, our leadership can make a difference in the lives of our children, more so than any other factor. Sadly, so can our absence, our poor example, and our lack of leadership.
Jill Stahl Struckman understood that how she responded to Evan’s bad experience would have an impact on him, and not just for that day. She wasn’t going to simply let the opportunity go by for him to learn a valuable lesson about his self-image and how he would allow others to influence how he thought about himself. Evan showed a great deal of maturity and courage in turning around and going back to school in his Halloween get-up. He is a blessed young man to have such a mother.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.