Thursday, December 13, 2007

"I'm Popeye the Sailor Man"--NOT! Parker's Friend Defends Parker's Dad!

A little bit more on the drama of harassment in my son's high school, and hopefully the last episode, at least for awhile.

Now, Parker's mom, Dean, and I have taught our children the importance of the virtues of self-control and the habit of non-violence. It would not be true to say we are always the paragons of these virtues and habits, but we try the best we can, most days of the week, sometimes...enough conditioners. Parker was being picked on by some young man after P.E. class one day last week, when the young man said that being gay "runs in the family," inferring that Parker is gay. After Parker said that he's not gay, one of Parker's friends spoke up for Parker and said, "Besides, I know and have seen Parker's dad, and he could break you in half," he said to the young harasser. End of harassment!

I'm off to the Y to work out! Drank my protein powder this morning, humming, "I'm Popeye the sailor man." My "muskles" are bigger than ever (thanks to Noriko, my friend and personal trainer).

Peace, Brett


Karen said...

It pains me to read about Parker's treatment in school. High school can be difficult years for our children. I was wondering about your thought process in the timing of your coming out publicly (in the media). And whether you are now second guessing this decision, seeing what Parker is going through. Surely you suspected that this type of harrassment would happen. Kids can be so cruel. I don't mean this as criticism, I'm just curious as to whether you had considered waiting until he graduated and what was the deciding factor to go ahead now. Maybe as a heterosexual parent I have no right to comment on your blog, but as parents we are all concerned with our children, so I think we have common ground there. I'm just honestly curious as to your thought process on the timing.

Brad said...

Thankfully, most kids aren't bullies. There are a few; they grow up in households that tolerate (maybe even encourage) the behavior. Bullies thrive on submission by their victims to fill some void in their own character. And they usually carry their character flaws (sanitized a bit) into adulthood, their marriages, and the workplace.

So the question, in my mind, isn't why Dr. Web-Mitchell chose to publish a book on his experience as a gay parent. It's "Do we as parents tolerate bullying behavior in our own kids?" Do we tolerate it in others' kids when we see it happening? I think toleration neglects the well-being of the perpetrator as well as the victim. By attending to these incidents of harassment, we have the opportunity to help all parties.

Another question: Should the message a gay parent gives his/her child by thought, word, and deed be that "I/We are different. I/we are flawed. I/we have a secret we must not share with our community"? Clearly, Dr. Webb-Mitchell in "thought, word, AND deed" has done the hard work of positively affirming his fatherhood to his children irrespective of a marriage license and his own sexuality. I wished more heterosexual couples did half so well.

Parker will survive and thrive despite the bullies of the world as long as the lines of father-son communication are open. He will be stronger, with more integrity and empathy, because of it. Ultimately, his love and respect for his dad will only grow stronger.

The young man that really needs help is "the other guy". I hope Parker and friends, teachers, parents can help him out.