Thursday, September 8, 2011

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do...

No need to fear, my marriage is still going strong; it's a break up of a different kind that I am referring to today.
I have been a bit distracted lately.
I've been finding it difficult to concentrate on my Thai, plan what meals to cook, put my feelings down in words on this blog and generally feel a peace in certain situations.
You may know the expression:

"You're only as happy as your least happy child".

Well, despite trying to keep a joyful attitude, deep inside, this saying is very much true for me.
Our little Eliana has been going through a rough patch at kindergarten this year.  
Since school started back in August, she just has not been the same.
Unfortunately a situation of bullying in her classroom has left her... well... just not her usual happy self. 
(Did you know, bullies can come in all shapes and sizes? Even disguised as a cute, blonde haired, blue eyed 5-year-olds).

Okay, so we've prayed... and prayed... plus had numerous meetings with the school, made suggestions and tried to be patient and did I mention.... prayed!  But now we have reached a point where, although some things have improved for Eli, the honeymoon days are kind-of over and {well} we are just not sure from what we have seen, that we should have our daughter in a situation where she just gets by. 
We want to see our daughter thrive... not just survive!
And so, it is with the various options laid out in front of us that we are left having to decide whether to give it another try or call it quits before we see our happy little girl disappear even more.
I'm sorry about this not being a very "uplifting" blog post, but it's where we're at right now.  Just trying to figure out how we do life over here when 'turning a blind eye' means everything is okay. 
I want to ask:
Have any of your children been bullied?  How did you resolve the situation?  At what point do you just pull the pin and remove them from the situation?
I'd appreciate your advice!



Kathryn Faulkner said...

Wow Andrea. That is a really difficult situation. There is nothing harder than watching your children suffer. I don't really have any advice to give, just know that you, Eli and your family are in our prayers. Sending lots of love Dave and Kathryn

Cross Family said...

Thanks Kathryn. It's a tricky situation and one we are monitoring carefully but I think in my heart I know what we need to do. Appreciate your thoughts and prayers though, Andie:)

Narelle said...

So sorry to hear that your little Eli is struggling.

I've not experienced this with my children but I do have an anxious child who struggles with school. His is an internal struggle though, not an external one and so we've done lots of talking, praying, reassuring and he's even had counselling and is much more settled now.

Not sure that I have any advice either sorry but my heart is breaking alongside yours.

Will pray for you guys.

Gary Lewis said...

Oh dear - feeling your struggle in this. Wanting your daughter to stand up and be strong and not run away from challenges, but also not wanting to see her go under the pressure of being bullied.

Bullying is about excercising power and control over another. at the end of the day when you cannot do anything about the one excercising that power and control over your child, you then have to step in and take control yourselves. Eli needs to be protected not only from the bully, but also nurtured and restored within herself.

Hope this makes some sense. In our prayers - love Dad

Cross Family said...

Thanks Narelle. Thanks Dad.
We're trusting that our decisions over the next couple of days will help to start restoring Eli's confidence as well as give her the nurturing that she needs.

Ginoza's said... that makes me sad. Garrett had a bullies too, one in preschool and one in 1st grade. The teacher (Jessica!!) intervened for him in preschool, but when he was older, we prayed together every night - told him the bible says to pray for your enemies, so we did. It was only after months later, that Garrett said we didn't have to pray anymore because that boy was now one of his friends! We thanked God for helping him through that situation. But funny enough, that year is when also we enrolled him into!!! yeah - that's the truth...that parental instinct of wanting to protect your child kicked in!

Carol said...

Dear Andie and Dave,
I have a son who was bullied from day 1 in kinder to almost the end of year 6 - almost every day!! I worried about it, cried over it, intervened when I could, fought for him, prayed plenty too but it didn't end. I have no solution for you, but I now have deep regrets that I didn't pull him out of school and put him in another one. I was cautioned that he would assume running away was a solution to one's problems, but now I realize that sometimes running away IS the right thing to do. If it means a child has to suffer just to prove that running away isn't the solution, then that's wrong. I had no support from anyone, no advice, I wished desperately for my mum because she would have given me worthwhile advice but I don't have her any more... I'm not going to advise you to do anything, I'm just tellin you my story. Good luck and may God go with you. Love Carol xx

Cross Family said...

Thanks Lynne. Maybe Jess would consider "home schooling" Eli LOL!
No seriously, thanks for sharing. It definitely helps to hear about other people's experiences. Parenting can be really tricky sometimes trying to navigate your kids, protect them, build resilience and all without damaging their spirit. A :)

Cross Family said...

Thanks for sharing Carol. I really liked it how you said, "but now I realize that sometimes running away IS the right thing to do. If it means a child has to suffer just to prove that running away isn't the solution, then that's wrong". I hear that!
Thanks again, Love A x

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave and Andie

We had this happen to Chloe with dancing. I spent a lot of tine talking to her about her worth and value in my eyes and in Gods eyes. We also prayed each night about it and prayed for the kids who were doing it. This worked for her and I think it released the power their words had over her. But she is 7 and dancing is once a week so its not exactly the same.
If things had not have changed soon I would have pulled her out.
As far as the homeschooling comment... If the situation does not improve and there are no other schools as an option then it's worth considering even just for kindergarten. I've done it both ways and love homeschooling the kids. There is so much they can learn with you at home.

Thinking and praying for you all. It's so hard to see your children hurting.

Love Ruth

Cross Family said...

Thanks Ruth. I appreciate your response. Last year when this started and we prayed, the girl left the school! However this year she is back and things worsened from not only hurtful words but physically hurting her in the way of stepping on toes, pinching and trying to poke her with sharp objects. Eli has kept a good attitude and prays every night but it's the changes in "her" that we have noticed and despite our best efforts to try to resolve this with the school's help, we have reached the point (just today) of withdrawing her from the kindergarten. I will keep her at home with me for a little while before we slowly transition her to a much smaller preschool that has just opened. It's further from our home but, it looks like it will be well worth the drive! Thanks again for your comment. Love A x

Deb Lucas said...

Hi Andie and Dave,
I agree that you should pull her out. If your child isn't safe (physically or emotionally) going to that kindergarten, then she shouldn't be there. It's sad that they can't sort out the problem from their end. But if they can't or won't then you have no other option. I'm glad there is another kindergarten you can go to, even if it's a bit further away.
Just know you've done all of the right things to try and resolve the problem, but sometimes it just isn't possible.
Am praying for you all.
xxx Deb

Cross Family said...

Thanks Deb. I do feel like a weight has been lifted even though there's a few things left to tidy up with the school but at least I know Eli is out of that environment now and we can begin the re-building process.
Miss you friend and our Fridays... I so valued your sound advice when we would catch up. x x x x

Anonymous said...

So sad that bullying already a problem in kindergarten. I'm sure you and Dave will make the right decision. For what it's worth, I was not bullied, but very shy and no real friends in early primary and when we moved from Tasmania to Victoria (Gr 4) and I had the chance to "start fresh" in a new school, I really started to shine, made a big difference to me. While knowing how to stand up to bullies is important, even as grown ups we sometimes need to remove ourselves from a situation that is going to cause us harm. Christy

Cross Family said...

I know, I never thought we'd be dealing with bullying at such a young age either. You were so right Christy when you said, "...even as grown ups we sometimes need to remove ourselves from a situation that is going to cause us harm". Thanks for your comments and refections. I am looking forward to seeing Eli 'shine' once more. Andie x

Laura @ Life Overseas said...

BOOO! No fun at all. Poor little thing. I will pray for you guys and for wisdom to know the next steps. How awful that you have to deal with this at five. Love yall, Laura

Cross Family said...

Thanks Laura. So great to see you today. Wishing that soccer clinic had've lasted longer LOL. Looking forward to a play date this week. Andie:)

Anonymous said...

Seems I have come along a little late, but for my two cents. I haven't had kids of my own who have been bullied (probably not surprising, since I don't have any kids, lol), but I have certainly worked with little people who have/are being bullied and seen the profound impact this can have. I have also worked with adults who are still impacted by prolonged early bullying experiences.

I have been thinking lately that although it is useful to build resilience and skills to cope with bullying, its really difficult to do that while being bullied! We all naturally want to feel accepted, part of the group and as though we are safe. I'm not sure there is one right answer but I do think there will be important lessons in this anyway for her in knowing that you can and will stand up and protect her when she isn't feeling safe - and that its ok to to that!

I would consider myself fairly resilient, and I had an experience of being bullied myself just last year. I found that quite overwhelming, a bit spirit crushing and difficult to know how to deal with. I can only imagine how tricky it would be as a little person just learning to negotiate school and friendships!!

Hope all goes well for you all in this situation - I am sure you, if anyone, know what is best for your little one :) (Meke)

Christine Henderson said...

Thinking of you so much...this is the hard side of parenting. Nothing much I can add to all the other wise comments but will pray for you all as you journey through this. Xx

Joan Cheah said...

I don't get to write via the internet much but happened to read this post tonight.. an awful thing thing for Eli and heartbreaking to watch as parents. I too have seen bullying with Oscar, verbal and physical and felt very disturbed when he reported being injured in places where no male should ever be, and this in 4year kinder! I know however you will have thought and prayed long and hard about the situation, so rest assured in your decision now as you are removing her from her kinder. God gave Eli to you both as parents to love, protect and teach and He will make good of this difficult circumstance in time. Wish I could give you all big hugs right no xo Prayers your way, Joan

Cross Family said...

Thanks Meke. I agree it's necessary for her to feel like, we "can and will stand up and protect her when she isn't feeling safe". That's a really good point and I hope that is how she feels. Now we just need to try to rebuild her confidence etc. I found it interesting to hear about your work with adults who are still impacted by bullying incidents from their childhood:(
I appreciate your input Meke, Andie x

Cross Family said...

Thanks Christine. Yes one of the tough parts of being a parent and having to watch your child go through this. We appreciate your prayers. Andie x

Cross Family said...

Oh Joan, how I would love to be sitting around being able to discuss all this with you. Miss you heaps and hugs right back at you x x x

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, I was thinking about the kind of bullying where it happened over and over again through primary and high school and they weren't ever equipped to deal with that or protected from it. I guess for me it has just highlighted that bullying can have a significant impact. Rather than perhaps minimizing it as a normal part of the way children interact. But I feel very confident that Eli has plenty of support to get her sparkle back :) (Meke)

Mrs M said...

Oh I'm so sorry to hear this, but glad you shared. It amazes me how common this sort of thing is.
I know how beautiful your daughter is and I can imagine how heart breaking it would be to see her retreating.
Carol referred to running away sometimes being the right answer, but you know what, it's not running away, you're simply walking away from a situation and walking into a better one, because that's the right thing to do, theres nothing 'running away' about that.
I'm sure in your own heart you know what the answer is.

Cross Family said...

Hey Mandy, I love the way you put that about walking away and walking in to a better situation. I feel like that is the only option here. (Sorry the blog post skimmed over most of the details too so there's more that I didn't write about).
I think every situation of bullying is different and as a parent you just have to weigh up what is best for your child and your family. We have all been affected by what Eli has gone through and I just look forward to seeing her regain her confidence and spark once again.
Thanks for your comments, Andie x

Tori said...

Hi Andrea, we never even considered home schooling, particularly because James and I are teachers but in the end we pulled the plug, bit the bullet and did it and have never looked back. Isabelle was barely surviving and now she is at home, is thriving. She has been home for 3.5 years now and i highly recommend it!! I've got no regrets. Hope all is going well xo Tori

Cross Family said...

Thanks Tori. I know many American families over here that also home-school and it has worked for their families too. There weren't very many options left when I wrote this post but I am happy to say that we did find a small preschool that just began this year run out of one of the churches here in Chiangmai. It has been brilliant and Eliana is absolutely thriving. I'm glad to hear that you also found a solution when you faced similar difficulties. Thanks again for your comments. I love getting them. Andie