Episode 19 – Dr. Friendtastic’s Friendship League: Jason Griffith

Introducing a special friend. Do you know Sonic the Hedgehog?

Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Episode 19 – Dr. Friendtastic's Friendship League: Jason Griffith
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Scroll down for DISCUSSION QUESTIONS & TRANSCRIPT

Think About It Questions

  • Rich was the ringleader in picking on Jason. Why do you think the other kids joined in on the meanness?
  • If you were getting picked on like Jason was, which adults could you go to for help?
  • Why did Rich tell the other kids to stop picking on Jason? What do you think Rich felt or realized that changed his mind?
  • Have you ever stood up for someone who was getting picked on? If it’s not safe for you to speak up directly, in the moment, what are some other ways you could support someone who is getting bullied?
  • What do you think about the fact that the person who was meanest and kindest to Jason when he was a kid was the same person?
  • Redemption means freeing ourselves from a bad situation or bad actions. We can always choose to move forward in kinder ways. Rich made a big change, but all of us can work on being kinder in our daily lives. What is one way you could be kinder?

Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.

Today on Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic I have something very special for you:

A lot of kids think they're the only one struggling with friendship problems, but really everyone has faced friendship rough spots!

Today, I’m introducing Dr. Friendtastic’s Friendship League. The Friendship League is made up of adults who care about kids and who have volunteered to share with you some memories from when they were a kid about a friendship rough spot they faced plus a kind thing a friend did for them.

Here's our very first Friendship League episode:

Hey, Kids! Hey, Dr. Friendastic! This is Jason Griffith, former voice of Sonic the Hedgehog and Shadow the Hedgehog. 

So a friendship rough spot I had as a kid would have been about the time I was in 6th grade. I really wanted to be friends with the popular kids–the kids who played sports and were cool. And I was so not cool. I had a face full of zits, big glasses, chubby, brush-cut hair that wasn't even even… So, nobody–with very few exceptions–wanted to be my friend, and I was picked on a lot.  

I remember at the end of school, we'd be waiting for the bus, and there was this kid, Rich, who would stand in front of me and just make fun of me, and say horrible things to me, and really hurt my feelings until the bus came. Our bus was always the last one to arrive, so it was a while. And I even remember my dad had some trouble with the law, and it got publicized in the newspaper, and he would make fun of me for that. It was just not a fun time. 

I knew I could be a great friend, and I would be loyal and supportive and creative friend. I just didn't get that chance. 

A twist on that, to answer the second question, a kind thing a friend did for me, well it wasn't done by a friend; it was done by this Rich kid. It was a week or so after my father had passed away, and I was in 7th grade. Now, leading up to this, I was teased almost every day, especially riding the bus home. A group of kids, usually led by Rich, would do the teasing. 

I remember sitting on the bus and just feeling so down and depressed because my father had just died. A couple of the kids started to make fun of me in the way they always did, saying some stuff about my appearance, or my zits, or whatever it was. I just remember Rich, sort of the linchpin of all this mockery, stopping them and very quietly explaining to them that my dad had just died. And immediately the teasing stopped. I don't think I was teased one day after that, going forward. 

I'll always remember that because it was something I didn't expect, and that I'm completely grateful for, and I think gave me an opportunity to see the redemption…the redeeming value that even a bully–even a school bully who made your life a nightmare–could have. So even though it wasn't a friend, it was a friendly action, and I am very grateful.

Wow, Jason, what a powerful story! Thank you so much for sharing it!

To me, Jason’s story says a lot about his strength because he moved on to do so many interesting and satisfying things after such difficult, difficult experiences.

It also points to the power of kindness. Jason used a beautiful word to describe Rich’s change of heart: redemption. Redemption means freeing ourselves from a bad situation or bad actions. I don’t think Rich shutting down the teasing erased all the meanness he did before, but it was an act of kindness, and it make it possible for Rich and Jason–and the other kids–to move forward in a better direction. That matters.

If you’re a kid who has been bullied, think of Jason’s story and know: It gets better. Hang on and find your support people. And if you’re a kid who’s maybe made some not-so-kind choices, know you can change, starting now.

I’ll be back next week with a question about friendship from a kid. If you have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on the podcast tab to see how to submit your question.

OR find them on your favorite podcast platform!