What if our efforts to stop bullying are misguided? What if the real solution comes long before our children enter school or set foot on a playground? What if bullying comes from us?
Many will be up in arms at this suggestion. They will quickly dismiss it as asinine. They will cite all sorts of studies that tell us all sorts of ways to prevent bullying, and rehabilitate bullies. Some may tout the vast amount of resources which have been put into anti-bullying programs.
Others will consider this message. They will think about it, and wonder what the implications are if there is truth in these thoughts.
This is not meant to make parents feel bad or excuse the children who are cruel to others. This message is not pretending that bullying is not an epidemic. The intention of sharing these thoughts is not to spark controversy or pit one mother against another.
This unpopular concept is being shared in the interest of children, and it needs to be considered.
We have come to accept that children are second class citizens; that their needs come second to parental convenience, material items, and parents’ desires. This is not because we are bad parents or because we do not love our children. We parents want what is best for our kids, and we want to give them the best start to life. We have created an accepted myth- that children need to be controlled and dictated into submission.
What if all of the choices we have been told are best for our child, are actually creating angry, and detached people who cannot learn to trust?
1 [bool-ee] 1. a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.
6. to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer.
Here are some ways that we may bully our children without even realizing it:
- We leave our children to cry, even though they wail in desperation, begging us to comfort them.
- We physically overpower our children to force them into solitude (more acceptably termed time-out)
- We insist that children learn things in the order and manner which we choose
- We perpetuate the myth that children must hurt, or be punished, to learn
- We choose what, when and where our children eat, sleep, wear, and play with- even if we pretend we are giving them choices
- We tell our children that they must hug Aunt Judy, say thank you to the store clerk, and share the toys which are special to them
- We dismiss their hatred of school as “normal” and force them out of bed and out the door five mornings each week
- We manipulate and trick our children by saying things like “do you want broccoli or carrots?” when we know what they really want is potatoes or cereal. We pretend that we are giving them a say, when really we are manipulating them into doing what we want.
We justify these things by saying “it is what’s best for our child; they must eat their vegetables and look presentable at Church”. We preach that we are teaching “self control” and showing our kids “how to function in the real world”
What if it’s not justified though? What if it does not accomplish what we think it does?
We may be bullying our children from birth without even realizing it. Maybe this is the cause of the bullying epidemic in our schools and on our playgrounds. This difficult message is worthy of consideration, reflection, and exploration.
If we are indeed bullying in our homes, how can we expect anything but bullying from our children?