Originally published June 20, 2014
Children are not born bullies. I believe this with all of my heart. Bullying is taught, or at the very least allowed through indifference – and it’s not up to teachers or administrators to fix the problem. Because the problem starts at home, with parents.
Ethan is bullied. I get daily reports from him about kids at school or day care who pick on him, call him names, push, hit, or slap him. These are not actions of “kids at play,” or “boys being boys.” Ethan is kind of a nerd and socially awkward (how could he not be with Ryan and I as parents?), and so he is bullied.
And, to be clear, I LOVE Ethan and Logan’s personalities. I LOVE that they are a little weird and nerdy, because they are so creative and smart and funny, and it’s BECAUSE they’re weird and nerdy. But I recognize that those things I love about them make them prime targets for bullying, and I will not encourage them to change who they are to avoid it.
I can talk to teachers and caregivers, I can talk to the parents of the bullies…I can even talk to the kids who are bullying him (but that’s something you have to be very, very careful about doing) – but, especially in today’s society, my abilities to fix this problem are limited.
To fix bullying, you have to fix the bully – and that requires parenting. Parenting and all that entails, which may mean getting your child some form of anger management, or counseling, or simply spending more time with them so they aren’t seeking attention, or TALKING TO THEM and figuring out WHY they feel the need to bully.
Ryan and I do our best to remind, convince, and prove to Ethan and Logan that they are loved, they are special, and that none of the mean things that happen to them on a daily basis mean that there is anything wrong with them. We encourage them to be who they are, no matter how weird that may seem, because the people they really want in their lives will love them for who they are.
But bullying gets to you, it plants seeds of doubt and self-hatred in your brain that love, support and acceptance from your family cannot fully overcome.
And so the solutions starts at home. If you are the parent of a bully – and you know if you are, don’t pretend that you don’t – FIX it.
I’m also well aware that Ethan has his share of behavioral problems – largely due to boredom. But, rest assured, when we learn that he has done something he shouldn’t have, we go to work correcting it.