The viral videos of Casey Heynes body-slamming his bully have been hard to watch for parents. Because in every single one of us, there's a person who has once felt like they're being wronged but couldn't do a thing about it. Casey Heynes did something about it. We cheered even as we cringed at the violence.
Now add another facet to this story. Casey Heynes is getting support from the most surprising place -- the mother of his bully. Tina Gale, mom of Ritchard Gale, told an Australian TV station this week that her family is being unfairly demonized as video of her son picking on Heynes has gone viral. But she also said something every mom (and dad) needs to stand up and hear.
The shining part of that video?
I had A LOT to say to my son yesterday. I said he was wrong for what he had done.
Asked if she thought Ritchard "got what he deserved," Tina admitted, yes, he had. Hear that parents? That's a mom who didn't automatically take her child's side. Even though she knew that she'd raised her child to do the right thing, she accepted that he hadn't.
Ritchard Gale was wrong when he bullied Casey Heynes. And rather than rushing to pin a medal on his back, Tina Gale has admitted it. That's becoming increasingly rare in our society, where parents rush to defend their progeny before even assessing the situation. It isn't "what happened?" but "MY KID DIDN'T DO IT ... whatever it is."
You might say Tina Gale has no choice -- she's got irrefutable evidence in the form of a viral video that her son was wrong, but that doesn't matter. Have you met the parent who hires a lawyer to fight her son's 80 mph speeding ticket because "oh, my son would never do that"? She has irrefutable evidence too.
It's hard to face up to knowing your kid's the one in the wrong. Especially when you know you've always taught them NOT to make mistakes. We want to believe in the goodness of our kids because we are their parents, their champions.
I've been there. In pre-school, my daughter bit another student. I was mortified. My kid was the biter? MY KID? It was anything but easy to sit her down and inform her our movie night was off, to force her to write apology letters to both the student and the teacher, to send her to her room for an early bed-time that night. But harder still was running into the other child's dad while out shopping. I saw him across the store and could easily have avoided him, but I knew I couldn't. I had to suck in my pride, march across the tiled floor, and tell him that I too was sorry for the way my daughter had acted.
I'd like to think what I did made a difference in the relationship these two girls will have going forward. We ran into the child and her dad a month or two later at a community function, and they played happily. And perhaps just as importantly, the dad and I could talk easily. He volunteered to watch my kid for me while I ran off to get my camera to take some pictures. But I also knew my daughter would never bite another kid. She wasn't protected from her mistakes but forced to face them.
We all want our kids to know we have their backs. I can't fault Tina Gale for voicing her concern that the world has it in for her son at the moment. Good parenting is providing a safety net.
But our kids also need to know how to function in society, where they won't have mom and dad to back them up at every turn. Scientists have found that kids whose parents don't micromanage their lives are better at thinking outside the box as adults. And that applies to mistakes too. If we are forever covering up our kids' problems, never holding them accountable, they'll never learn to clean up the aftermath of a total screw-up.
So let's give Tina Gale a round of applause. How do you think you'd act in her situation?
Image via YouTube