When we were growing up, we would build forts outside made of umbrellas, because who would want a fort that leaked when it rained? We stayed warm, dry and protected as long as we stayed under the umbrellas. Instead of having to go inside, we were able to weather the storm and continue to play outside. As I grew up, I learned many things; fairy tales weren’t always true, the lyrics to some lullabies were a bit frightening and sticks and stones could break bones but words could hurt much more than broken bones. Over the years, I’ve also learned that I can’t change people. There will always be mean people, greedy people, dishonest people, and bullies. And while I may have accepted that I can’t change them, I’ve also learned that I can help protect others from them.
Bullying is not just a problem with our children, it’s also a problem with adults. However, if we learn how to protect ourselves and our friends from bullies, they will eventually have no one to prey on. If you know of someone that is being bullied, become their umbrella. Put yourself over them and wrap yourself around them to protect them from the words and actions of those that are so lacking in self esteem that the only way they can feel good about themselves is by degrading others.
Young people are often hesitant to get involved; they are told it’s none of their business. Some are afraid they will get in trouble at school or at home if they get in a fight while taking up for someone else. And sadly, sometimes, we are just too engrossed in our own lives to even notice what is happening around us. If you are a parent, please talk to your children about bullying and how to handle themselves if they are ever a victim of bullying, as well as how to be an umbrella. If you are a school administrator or teacher, please make your students feel you have an open door policy so they will feel free to come to you and not be afraid their concerns will be dismissed or that they will “get in trouble”. These are conversations we need to be having in our homes, our schools, and our churches. I encourage everyone that reads this to please pay attention, please get involved and become someone’s umbrella; you can not only protect them from those hurtful words but tell them how wonderful they are, and how much brighter they make your day and how much better your life is for having known them!