A MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL
GOSPEL REFLECTION FOR SUNDAY 10 SEPTEMBER
In next Sunday’ Gospel, we hear from Matthew 18:15-20. In this passage, Jesus teaches his disciples how to settle disputes in the Church.
How can this reading be relevant in our family life?
Conflict and disagreements are a natural part of family life. Yet, within our family, we have an important opportunity to learn how to resolve disagreements fairly by treating people with love and respect.
As you gather as a family in the next two weeks, discuss the procedures for resolving disputes in your family. What kinds of things produce disagreements in your family? Do children frequently request the assistance of the adults when a disagreement arises? How do the adults respond? In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples the way in which they are to handle conflict within the Christian community of the Church. Read together this Gospel, Matthew 18:15-20. Invite family members to summarize the steps that Jesus proposes for resolving conflict. How might today’s Gospel inform your family’s handling of disagreements? If you have time, your family might choose to role play how Jesus’ teaching about conflict resolution might be applied to a disagreement that sometimes occurs in your household.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus also promises that he will help those who pray to him with their needs. Pray together that each member of your family will learn to handle conflict in a Christian manner. Pray together the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
DEALING WITH “FRENEMIES”
(Useful strategies when friendship is used as a weapon)
The world of little girls begins as such a lovely place. Heart and rainbow doodles adorn notebook covers, best friendships are formed within seconds, and bold, exuberant voices carry squeals of carefree laughter and brazen delight. Happiness is worn on a sleeve, and anger is voiced with authentic candour.
Length-of-stay in this accepting, kindly world is time-limited for many girls, however. Seemingly overnight, sweet sentiments like, “I love your dress,” turn into thinly-veiled criticisms such as, “Why are you wearing that dress?” Yesterday’s celebratory birthday party becomes today’s tool of exclusion, as guest lists are used to enforce social hierarchies. Long before most school programs begin anti-bullying campaigns, young girls get a full education in social aggression.
What can adults do to help kids cope with inevitable experiences of friendship conflict and bullying? To Intervene or Not to Intervene?
Adults often struggle with the question of, “Should I intervene in a child’s friendship problems?” The line between helicopter and hands-off can get confusing, as adults waver between wanting to protect young people from the pain of broken friendships and believing that bullying is an inevitable rite of passage. The bottom line is this; no child should have to find her way through painful conflict alone. Kids need adult support and insights when it comes to navigating the choppy waters of friendship, disguised as a weapon. Here are some fundamental ways parents can help:
Teach Her to Know it When She Experiences It
One of the things that makes relational bullying so insidious is its under-the-radar nature. It is things left unsaid and invitations not given. It is unexplained cut-offs in friendship. It is silence. This type of bullying is marked by crimes of omission that make it very hard for girls to put their finger on what they are experiencing in their friendships—yet the pain, humiliation, and isolation are unmistakable.
Adults play a critical role in keeping an open dialogue with young people and making them aware of the typical behaviours that mark this cruel form of social aggression. Knowledge is power; when girls know what relational bullying looks and feels like, they are better able to make a conscious choice to move away from friends who use these behaviours.
Some of the most common bullying behaviours that adults can make kids aware of include:
- Excluding girls from parties and outings
- Talking about parties and outings in front of girls who are not invited
- Mocking, teasing, and calling girls names
- Giving girls the “silent treatment”
- Threatening to take away friendship (“I won’t be your friend anymore if…”)
- Encouraging others to “gang up” on a girl you are angry with
- Spreading rumours and starting gossip about a girl
- “Forgetting” to save a seat for a friend or leaving a girl out by “saving a seat” for someone else
- Saying something mean and then following it with “just joking” to try to avoid blame
- Using mobile phones and/or social media to gossip, start rumours, say mean things, or forward embarrassing posts and photos
Help Her Make Friends with her Anger
“Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.” —Lyman Abbott
Anger is a normal, natural, human emotion. In fact, it is one of the most basic of all human experiences. And yet many girls, from a very early age, are bombarded with the message that anger = bad. Young girls face enormous social pressure to be “good” at all costs, a standard that makes it difficult for young girls to stop and say, “Hey. I don’t like the way you are treating me right now. I’m feeling angry about what you just said/did/pretended not to do, and I’m not going to let you treat me that way anymore.”
Adults who teach their children how to be angry effectively—by role modelling assertive communication skills and by accepting anger when it is respectfully expressed—fortify girls with the confidence to walk away from toxic friendships.
Encourage Her to Show Strength
When it comes to facing off with a frenemy, the best advice to caring adults is to teach young girls how to show resolute strength. Mind you, strength should not come in the form of physically or verbally aggressive responses that up the ante and escalate hostilities, but rather young people show strength when they use humour to deflect a situation and they stand up for themselves whenever their feelings are disrespected. A simple “Knock it off,” or “Tell me when you get to the funny part” is a simple, powerful signal that a girl will not allow herself to be treated poorly.
As for the “talking about their emotions” part, adults should make themselves available as a sounding board for kids whenever possible. Kids need to have a safe place to be vulnerable—to vent, to talk about their friendship frustrations, and even to cry. Parents, relatives, teachers, counsellors, and other caring adults are ideally suited to provide this safe place.
Teach Her to Know What She is Looking For
For school-aged children, friendships create a powerful sense of belonging. We want our girls to feel accepted and embraced by their peers—never to be used as pawns in someone else’s popularity game. Fostering discussions and careful consideration of the values involved in making and maintaining healthy friendships is one of the most important things adults can do to help girls choose friendships wisely.
Around the dinner table, after class, in the car whilst driving, or anytime the mood is right, strike up a conversation (or, better yet, a dozen ongoing dialogues) about the values kids should look for in a real friendship. Make it into a finish-the-sentence game with a starter like, A Real Friend is Someone Who… Hopefully, the end of a young girl’s sentence will sound something like:
- Uses kind words
- Takes turns and cooperates
- Uses words to tell me how she feels
- Helps me when I need it
- Compliments me
- Includes me
- Is always there for me
- Understands how I feel
- Cares about my opinions and feelings
- Stands up for me
- Is fun to be with
- Has a lot in common with me
When kids understand how a healthy friendship should look and feel, they are best equipped to extricate themselves from friendships that are toxic and damaging.
The friendships that are so easily formed between girls during their youngest years quickly become complicated as early as the middle secondary school years. Adults play the key role in teaching kids about healthy friendships and supporting them through the inevitable pains of toxic ones.
(Adapted from https://www.psychologytoday.com )
- We continue to prayer for Ms Mai’s daughter, Milan, who is still undertaking regular treatment for a significant health condition;
- Ms Parsons is in need of support and prayers as her grandmother is treated for a serious illness. After recently losing her mother, this has had a huge impact on Ms Parson’s and her family;
- Please keep Miss Ibrahim in your prayers as she recovers from emergency surgery this week; and
- Pray for the repose of the soul of Ms Cotten’s nan who was laid to rest this week.
- Please pray for the family of Aecean Mislang of Year 11 who lost her grandmother this week.
Our mantra:“Girls can do anything. Bethany girls can do everything!* (*except divide by zero)”