(This is “4 steps to Protecting Your Children from Adult Bullying” Part 2 in a series check out post #1 here)
The people most vulnerable in the world of a grownup bully? kids. They need someone to defend them – to affirm for them that:
- “being shy” is OK
- that being uncomfortable in new situations is OK
- that being an introvert who needs space and time is an OK type of person to be
- and that NO ONE has the right to mock them or treat them as less than when they don’t meet an adult’s expectations simply because they are young
- They need to be aware that those red flags of warning they have – are there for a reason. It is OK to listen to them even if you come across as weird or rude.
Bully’s love to swirl the world around them, feeding off of the negativity that they bring and have their egos stroked in the process. They’ll use your kids to make themselves feel better by using fear, manipulation and intimidation to get the reactions they need. That is not OK.
Bullies have even been known to pit a child against a parent through gift giving, digging for information, and playing the “good cop.”
I have learned to be very careful about who I will tolerate around my children in the name of family, church fellowship, and keeping the peace.
I am the one who has to live with the consequences of allowing adult bullies into the lives of my children with their fear-mongering, intimidation, shame-spreading, and spirit crushing.
Our homes bear the brunt of what we tolerate.
Parents need to have a backbone when it comes to their children and the children around them by protecting their young hearts against the vicious attacks of adult bullies who never grew up. It is OK to NOT tolerate belittling language, sarcasm (meaning to “tear flesh”), mocking, taunting and more from adults who should know better.
It’s OK to set boundaries with people who are a negative influence on you and your children.
4 Steps to Protecting Your Children from Adult Bullying:
1. Confront bullying on the spot as often as possible. Have a conversation with the bully giving them the opportunity to change. Be careful because rarely does a leopard change its spots. Do not allow history to cycle and repeat itself in the name of keeping the peace. It is OK to confront in loving truth. It is good to give someone the chance to change. It is also OK to walk away when that change does not happen or they blame you (or your child) for their behavior.
2. Be the Voice Your Child Doesn’t Have Yet. One of the biggest mistakes we parents can make is assuming that our kids will speak up to 1. defend themselves or 2. tell us what is happening so that we can defend them. Most kids will endure the harmful words and actions of a bullying adult without ever speaking up to combat the bully or to tell us so that we can help them. Instead they will allow the harmful words and actions to become something that hovers over them – making them feel guilt and shame. You can not expect your children to instinctively know how to defend themselves against adults. They might not have the words or even be able to adequately describe what is happening to them – let alone having the tools necessary to speak up, push back, and stand up for themselves. YOU need to be that for them.
3. Insist the bully apologize directly to your child and you. The truth behind this statement is that you need to weigh the situation carefully because some bullies will take an apology and make it an opportunity to further blame and traumatize the child. Apologies include: asking forgiveness, naming the issue in truth, and asking, “Will you please forgive me?” You might have to verbally walk this out with a grownup so that your child feels like his feelings are important to you. Don’t set your kid up for more abuse, but do encourage a bully to make it right.
3. Be prepared to redefine the relationship even if that means you need to walk away. Forgiveness is something that we should be continually working towards.These are what we should be attempting every day: pre-forgiving, forgiving in the moment and when we are apart one from another. Forgiveness is the work of an individual before God. It is a work they do within themselves first. So we teach our children how to work out living with a forgiving spirit between themselves and God. Reconciliation is also the ideal. However, reconciliation takes two people – the offended party and the offender willing to work it out and change directions in the relationship.
Bullies rarely change how they are with others without some type of extreme intervention – divine intervention. So while it would be nice to have a healthy whole relationship with all people, in some situations this is not going to happen. And you should not endanger yourself or your children in the name of keeping the peace, family togetherness, or being reconciled simply because that is how your family or church says it needs to be.
Bullies have to be willing to change their behavior. They have to be able to see their behavior as the problem and work to be different. How many bullies do you know that have genuinely changed how they are?
Sometimes we have to back away and allow God or the universe to deal with the person/situation.
Your priority as a parent is to teach your child forgiveness, to protect their wills and spirits, to give them the freedom to speak truth in kindness, to be open with you about whatever is hurting or bothering them, and to give distance to toxic places.
They need to have the right to be frightened – to listen to the red flags that they have been given – those red flags that protect them from dangerous situations and people.
Too often as parents we rush and force them into places where our kids are clearly uncomfortable simply so they do not come across as awkward or rude. To hell with being seen as weird or rude – Bullies do REAL damage.They leave heartache and brokenness strewn behind them – don’t let that damage be your kid. It’s OK to establish boundaries and say, “No.”
You do have a choice about who you allow into the lives and hearts of your children.
Check back for part 3 in this series on Adult Bullying and Protecting Your Children. Or sign up below to receive updates in your inbox so that you never miss an adult bullying post.
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