I also found your blog on Mamapedia and very glad I did! And it's true that most bully parents are in denial & are often decent people themselves.
Posted on J June, 2012, in Bullying, Family, Gratitude, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-esteem and tagged bullying, crying girl, how to deal with bullies, letter to the parents of a bully, mean girls, sad little girl, teaching your child to deal with bullying, were you bullied?, what age do girls start bullying, why do kids become bullies?. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.
Just found your blog from Mamapedia! What a great blog, and what a great post! I was bullied as a child in the 80s, when bullying wasn't on everyone's tongue. It didn't help that I was the only African-American girl in the class. Things were never racial, but I did feel singled out. I never told my mom. It was the psychological torture of middle school girls. Making fun of clothes, mocking things I said. Running away from me during recess - I would find the girls so we could hang during recess, and they'd run away. This went on all over school. Eventually I realized these girls were total bitches and found new friends. Most of them left the school eventually. As for with my own kids, I am amazed at how often seemingly reasonable parents do nothing - invoking at the wrong time an anti-hovering parenting stance. I am always amazed when a kid does something blatantly wrong (especially to a stranger's child) at the park and the parent just sits there, which to me is condoning the behavior, as well as sending a hurtful message to the victim - that the adult in charge of the offender could give a s--t. Drives me insane. When my child is the offender, I am practically licking the shoes of the offendee and her parent. I could go on and on...
Reading through all the comments, made me wonder about light-hearted teasing, you know the off-the-cuff comments when someone does something silly; or witty retorts; or mild sledging on the sports field to put an opponent off their game (I'm not talking relentless taunts or racial vilification). If a person takes offence, it's an insult, if they don't, it's banter. Of course vicious, systematic, orchestrated psychological and physical bullying is obvious to spot, but where do we draw the line with all the shades of grey? I guess we must try to teach our kids to be kind and thoughtful, walk in others' shoes, but also to be resilient. I had a silly surname in primary school, Smee, like the pirate in Peter Pan, which rhymed with 'wee' and 'flea', which - predictably - the boys sometimes seized upon. It pissed me off and I didn't like it, but I didn't feel like I was being bullied. Maybe because silly boys make fun of any name given half a chance so I wasn't the only one! I was a pretty thing who did child modelling, so I'd get, "Here comes the Vegemite kid", or whatever, sometimes with regular monotony if an ad campaign was running. (We didn't have TV so I never saw the ads myself!) But again, I'd call that a bit of mild teasing. So if you asked me if I was individually bullied at school, I'd say no. There were bullies though. Particularly a pair of big twin girls who intimidated everyone, you know the type - shouldering people in corridors, stealing lunch money and sports equipment (I punched one in the guts and they never bothered our group again - in fact, it went through the school like wildfire - no-one dared give me a hard time after that). I think most people have been teased at some point, and most people have done some teasing. But are they bullies and victims? Is it a matter of degree? Whether you take offence or not? (Still talking shades of grey here, not relentless cruelty). My son was what I'd call bullied in Year 5, by a newcomer to the classroom who within a month, had brought in the poisonous culture of his home school and infected our kids with it. That class, who'd been together since pre-primary, became paralysed, no-one daring to speak up unless the bully's attention landed on them. And it did. He picked on each one in succession, almost as if to get them under his thumb. In hindsight, it was quite sophisticated behaviour - these guys were 10 years old! I guess that's how gang leaders and dictators operate, people bow before they know it. But that was the thing that really hurt my son, the day his best mate went along with the bully, and didn't stand by his side. The remarkable thing was, when the bully first arrived, he was welcomed and immediately accepted - it could have all been so different had he known how to like people. But the bully was a 'mini-me' of his father, imposing size, booming voice. One day I drove past the car-park and saw the father looming over another mother, obviously ranting. Wish I'd pulled over and told him to settle down, but I didn't, but there was the bully's the role model, plain to see. That family left the school and miraculously, overnight, the class reverted to how it was before - a group of gorgeous, happy kids who weren't perfect, but on most days, all got along just fine. Oh gosh! You can tell I'm on holidays! My musings are turning into a book! Better stop!
This seems to be the way of it in school nowadays. So many kids get bullied by other kids and the parents are oblivious to it. No parent wants to believe that their child is the cause of such hatred.
Wow, what a great letter! As a therapist, educator, and mother of two, I must say you touched on so many important points. Yes, I do believe educators have a duty to notify parents of kids who are bullying and parents of those being bullied. Thank you for sharing this.
I think many parents are afraid to have this conversation with the parents of the bully. Or their bullied child does not want them to have this conversation because it might make it worse for them. I think it is important to keep the dialogue going about this. It happens way too much. We have to raise kids who are confident in themselves, but who don't think themselves better than other kids. We have to teach our kids compassion and kindness. It hurts so much when our babies are hurting and I hope your kids stay bully-free!
My eldest daughter just finished up kindergarten this year. There was a little boy in her class that wasn't exactly a bully, but had behavioral issues that caused him to lash out. One time, he kicked my daughter in the stomach when she defended her friend against his name-calling. The boy got sent home from school and stuff, but still - we were horrified. My husband wanted to drop-kick the kid. And I was also freaking out because 1) the kid's parents were super nice and sweet and 2) we were seeing them at a birthday party the next day and I was nervous about what they'd say/do. And what happened? The kid's parents acted like nothing ever happened! If that was my little boy there would be NO WAY he'd be allowed to go to a birthday party the next day. And even if he did, I would be sure that he apologized to the little girl and I would also talk to the parents! But they did nothing. Acted like everything was fine while I was stewing about it. From some inside info I got at school, it seems the parents' solution to his behavior is to pamper him when he does something bad. They think he's misunderstood. GAH! So yes, they seem like nice people. But apparently are ineffective parents. Anyway, the point of my babbling is to say that maybe the little girl's parents seem nice, but they could be enabling her behavior. Which is pretty hard to combat, sadly. When does your school year end? Have you talked with the teacher?
Good letter. (God, I'd freak if a top 'mummy blogger' like yourself sent me such a letter!) I think that you have accurately portrayed the issues, and how bad and powerless it makes you feel as the mom of a bullied child. You are obviously angry. Luckily, you have a blog to vent your frustration. If I were actually going to send a letter to a parent in this case, I'd probably just try to arrange a meeting and keep any potentially inflamatory statements for the meeting. You don't want things you put in writing to come back and haunt you in real life. And I have heard stories where blogs can cause trouble on the playground when real people believe (correctly or incorrectly) that they are being written about. But I feel your pain about the bully. Hope it gets resolved.
Another really good post Mich. I wrote one a while back which I recently re posted. It was written with the help of Suzannah Burke. "Soooz Says Stuff". She came from an abusive back ground, has written books about what happened to her and how she came out of it. She also is an activist against abuse. This is the post.: it gives parents some idea of what to do when it happens to their child. http://didoodlesaboutstuff.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/bullying/ In the bully's defence there is probably a reason behind what he is doing. Very often this child is being abused or isn't getting the attention he or she desperately needs at home.
This is such a tough and complex subject! I wish someone would really figure out why these behaviors happen; what's wrong with humans that we end up doing these things to each other? As an elementary school teacher, I deal with bullying every day. I think that you have hit on one of the key approaches. We need to talk to and listen to both bully and victim. We also have to just plain make it clear that its an unacceptable way to behave. I'm also a Mom of three grown kids; my youngest was a target for a few years, but with the help of teachers and the bully's parents, things turned around, and they became good friends. Good luck!
Thank you Keesha - I so appreciate your words. So sorry you went through this as a child. I think half the reason bullying is such a big problem is that the parents won't allow their 'precious darling' to be accountable. I wish it wasn't so, but it is...
I am totally on the same page as you - the word "bully" is thrown around too freely at the moment. Someone took the lego you were reaching for? Bully. Someone pushed in front of you in line? Bully. UM - NO! Bullies target and demean and humiliate and hurt - with intention. Know what I think, mari? I think you should write a guest blog post for me :) Pick your topic. Yes?
If it was MY kid being the bully, I would absolutely want to know. I's NEED to know so I could get to the root of WHY it was happening and help him/her. WHat good is it to deny? Yes, it would be hard to hear, but still, I'd rather know so I could DO something,
Thank you Kristin! So often, adults (parents and schools) don't want to have the "hard conversation" with the parents BECAUSE they are nice people and they don't want to offend them or cause waves. If my child was bullying someone, I'd want to know!
Sorry to hear about that incident with your little girl. I know SO many parents like this, so this is just my little fantasy letter that I would never actually send :) Actually, it is only based on past experiences my kids have had with bullying and the parents involved. At the moment - we are happy and bully-free! Our school year corresponds with the calendar year, so we are halfway through.
Laurel - this is actually not aimed at anyone in particular - but it is based on past bullying experiences of my children. I guess I just wanted to get into the mind of ANY parent whose child is being bullied. I HOPE nobody thinks this is about them! That would not be fun. Right now, my kids are bully-free and happy as anything :)
Sounds like a plan ;-) I'll have to think of something. I have a gazillion great ideas late at night after two too many glasses of red, and have completely forgotten them by morning. A notebook is required!
I doubt it Mich. And if anyone does, refer them to the comments. Its easily fixed. Think about it this way - maybe parents will think twice about what their kids are doing, become more involved.
So glad to hear your kids are bully free. :) In social media in general people think an un named post is about them. It does cause really nasty arguments. Naming people can get you sued. Lol. Not so funny actually. Its always best to ask first. We are learning a whole new set of manners. Social media ones.