A recent segment on the Today Show sparked outrage online, over the apparent mocking of gifted children and their parents. Personally, I
did not care for the segment, but it wasn't necessarily because I am the
mother of a gifted child.
I am just so tired of the toxic culture
we have developed, where it is not only acceptable but considered amusing—and
often profitable—to make fun of other parents. It has practically become an
We love to label parents. Then we make
assumptions about them, lump them into groups and go to town.
No matter how you may choose to
parent your children, there is someone out there who believes you are very
wrong. That person will often will tell you so, usually in very unsavory terms.
It started out on blogs and in
parenting forums, and then spread to social media. Then mainstream media joined in on
the "fun." There seem to be no boundaries or taboos. Everybody is fair game.
Laughing at someone else's expense is nothing new, but it appears to be growing more mean-spirited.
Laughing at someone else's
expense is nothing new, but it appears to be growing more mean-spirited. And it
is rarely one-on-one. A gang mentality easily develops and things get very
ugly, very quickly.
Anyone who is offended is
told to lighten up. The problem is with them. They don't understand satire. Or
have a sense of humor. They need to grow thicker skin. "Get off the Internet
if you can't handle it."
I want to ask you a
question: Is this how you would respond if someone was making fun of your
child? Would you say these things to your daughter? Would you consider it your son's fault if he were upset by
being called names, being the butt of his classmates' jokes, being excluded, or
taunted or bullied?
What if your child was the
one making fun of a classmate or peer? Would you laugh along with him? Pat her
on the back and tell her she's hilarious? Explain that the other kid just
doesn't have a sense of humor?
I want to believe the answer
is, "Of course not!"
What may seem like a little "harmless fun" has the potential to have very negative consequences. I'd like to see more people thinking—and talking—about that.
If that is the response, it
begs another question: What makes it OK for adults? Why do we encourage,
support and even applaud grown men and women making fun of each other?
Humor and satire are
sometimes purposely used to veil intentions that are insensitive at best,
malicious at worst. Not always, of course. But the simple fact is—there is
nothing funny about judgment and prejudice. In any form.
It's important to think
about, because while parents are busy making fun of each other, children are
watching. They're likely to mimic the things they see and hear.