It’s a real thing, bullying. It’s not just the youtube videos and the news articles that we see…bullying shows itself in many different ways. I don’t know that I have ever really referred to it as “bullying” because that implies physical harm, at least in my mind.
Kids hurt other kids. It’s awful to watch and it’s even worse when it involves your own precious kids. But the truth is, it’s probably going to happen to your kids at one point or another.
I remember when AJ was on a particular soccer team about 4 years ago. He had been asked to join the team in the middle of the year, and the team had already been used to playing together and were not particularly fond of the idea of adding another boy. One kid was especially mean to AJ. Not physically or anything, but just comments here or there. Making him go and get the ball, and making snide remarks. He made fun of AJ’s cleats too. (I thought that was only a girl thing.) Anyways. We learned a lot that year, and AJ really kept himself together and spoke kindly to the boy and by the end of the year, the kid was calling AJ his best friend.
While that’s a nice story and all, that is not how all the stories end. Some kids are just going to be spiteful and mean no matter what you do. I see it at The Porch sometimes, (although we do not allow any kind of bullying to go on while the kids are with us) and I see it on social media a little bit. But the kind of bullying I see the most is the kind that I find the most painful.
It’s the ignoring. It’s not mean words, rude comments or physical harm. While those things are horrible of course, it is awful when you watch someone have to deal with the group of kids that sit together laughing and talking while the other one is left out. Feeling like the outcast. Like the one with no friends. Like they have no idea what is even going on. It’s passive aggression at its finest and it is just. plain. ugly. We see it as adults, of course, but we feel like we are old enough and we have our life together enough with our husband, or family and close friends and we can manage. When this happens to a 13, 14, or 15 year old, it can be absolutely destructive if it’s not handled right.
Let me tell you what the temptation as a mom (aka mama bear) is: You tell your child that the other people are just horrible and mean. You tell her she is better than them. That she doesn’t need them and she should treat them exactly the way they are treating her. You build her up and puff her up and make her feel better than the mean kids.
Here’s the only problem with that. We are commanded to think of others as better than ourselves.
To love. To show mercy, grace and forgiveness.
I can’t even tell you how difficult it is to even type those words. These are not just the words of some random blogger who heard about mean kids that one time. These are the words of a mama bear who feels every bit of the heaviness of what I just wrote. When you see kids treating your child poorly? The last thing you want to show is mercy, grace or forgiveness.
It’s just not fair.
How can I teach my kids to think of these mean kids as better than themselves, when I feel physically sick trying to do the same? The honest fleshly thoughts? I don’t think those kids are better than mine. I think mine are better than them. I know. It’s ugly to say out loud, and even though I want to go back and delete delete delete those words, I want to keep it real with you, because I know there are other momma’s out there who are feeling my pain. I’m not saying those honest fleshly thoughts are right. They are not. But they are real. And they need to be dealt with in me, so I can deal with them for my kids.
So we have talked about the temptation. Now we have to talk about the right thing to do.
The simple answer? Love and forgive. The longer answer is this. We as moms have to be able to see things long term for our kids, especially when they can’t see past school tomorrow. The long term result of unforgiveness and pride is bitterness. Bitterness can take root in your child’s life (or OUR lives!) and can defile us. The NLT calls it a poison and I believe that that is what bitterness is. Poison. Holding onto bitterness will cause so much destruction in our kids lives, not only right now, but it will become a habit that can destroy other friendships, and could even possibly hurt our relationship with our child in the future. We have got to see the danger in allowing our kids to become prideful and bitter. Our goal as mom’s has got to be encouraging humility and forgiveness.
I get it. Trust me I do. It hurts. I know it does! I have cried many tears for my children because of the way other kids have treated them. But you need to remember the danger. What happens is we think the danger is the other kids. But the real danger has nothing to do with the other kids at all! The danger comes when we start teaching our kids that they “are being the better person.” The danger comes when we start teaching our kids that it’s ok if they hold on to bitterness and an unforgiving spirit. It’s not ok. And forgiveness does not make the mean kids right. It makes your kid free. When we can see that we are giving our kids freedom by forgiving the mean kids? We can sleep a little better at night, because we are securing our kids future.
What about you? Are you having a hard time with kids hurting your kids? I feel your pain. I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. It hurts more than you think you can bear. But here’s what you can do.
1. Pray and ask God to give your child strength to get through. Pray that God will use this experience to make him or her stronger.
2. Give your child opportunities to serve others. It is going to give them something to get their mind off things, and it will benefit other people as well.
3. Let your child talk it out with you. It’s ok if they cry. It’s ok if they see you cry. Be open, but always bring it back around to what God requires of you and of them.
4. Give them ice cream. Ok, ok. I know I say everything goes back to ice cream. But seriously, celebrate small victories! If they are able to say something nice in response to the mean kid, or if they show kindness to someone else, or if they are able to overlook insults..rejoice in that! Be constantly encouraging them to do the right thing. You are teaching them that they can persevere even through tough times. This will come in handy for so many other life struggles.
5. Find someone you can talk to. Us mom’s need to talk things out sometimes too. We need advice to help keep us going. We need to know we aren’t alone.
And remember… You can do it! Kids are going to hurt other kids. It’s a sad fact of life. But we can help our kids learn how to be stronger because of it.
Keep pressing on mom.
You really can do it.