‘It wasn’t bullying because she wasn’t picked on. It was almost as crushing – she was ignored.’: Mother urges school kids to reach out to ‘lonely’ students, ‘include them in their circle’

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“As the school year is about to begin, I am so thankful my youngest is finished. For all of those with children heading back to school I would love to share with you my thoughts and feelings on the importance of friendship and inclusion.

Elementary, middle and high school were not easy years for my girls as far as friends and social activities. It was the toughest on my youngest. I went into the school a few times to discuss my feelings and ask their advice on what I could do to help my daughter through some tough times of feeling left out and lonely. I wasn’t sure what to call it and found out – neither did they.

It wasn’t officially bullying because she wasn’t picked on. But it was something that I imagine felt almost as crushing – she was ignored. I spent many nights with her crying in her bed asking me questions I couldn’t answer: ‘Why don’t I have any friends? Why don’t I get invited anywhere? What is wrong with me?’ I had no answers as I laid beside her as she sobbed – year after year.

As she got closer to graduation we would talk about college and how different it will be. I assured her she would find her tribe there. I had seen it happen with my other girls. And it has. She is majoring in photography in the Netherlands and over the years she has used her camera to capture, not only others, but herself. The other day I came across a self-portrait she had taken her senior year in high school and it made me want to cry. It is so raw and haunting. It is a photo that shows how hard life can be for our children when they feel alone.

As important as it is to teach our children to study, to participate in activities, to get good grades, it is also important to teach them to be kind. To reach out to others who may be lonely. To include them in their circle. It can make such a difference in a child’s world to know they are important enough to be noticed and included.”

Courtesy of Becky Gacono

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Becky Gacono of Annville, Pennsylvania. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories about inclusion:

‘I wonder why I wasn’t invited. I wonder why I wasn’t included. I walk up to people and get that sinking feeling they were just talking about me.’

‘I don’t fit in. They don’t really want me there. I wonder why I wasn’t invited. I walk up to a circle of people and don’t know whether to force my way in, or hang on the outside, twiddling my thumbs.’

‘I’m slowly learning I’m not ever going to be the popular girl. I’m just not. I’m not going to be the prettiest, or the loudest, or the life of the party.’

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