Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Pain of Bullying for Parents

If you're reading this and you're a parent who's child is being bullied, I have one thing to say to you. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry that you're feeling the pain of feeling your child's pain. It's true heartache.

I was recently talking to a mom who is going through the devastation of watching her daughter be excluded. She was wondering if "exclusion" can be considered bullying. The answer: Yes.

In this case, her child had been slowly excluded from a group of friends that seemed fine until they got to sixth grade. Then it started. Not making room at the lunch table. Making it hard for her to join a game at recess. Laughing when she made even the smallest mistake in class. Then it became too obvious to ignore. A bunch of kids were going out for pizza after school. They made the plan right in front of her, didn't invite her and told her it was because the most popular among them, didn't want her to go. And what made it the hardest is that it was her birthday.

As a mom in these situations, we can feel rage. It's so difficult to see our children hurt, especially when we can't fix it right away. The frustration is horrible. In so many cases, the parents of the children responsible actually, in some way, contribute to it. They're happy that their child is popular. And these are parents that you thought you knew. It's so tricky because handling it correctly is a slippery slope. Ugh!

This post is not about answers. (Although here's a link with suggestions.) It's about sympathy. If your stomach is in a knot and you're confused and hurt, you're not alone. The statistics are that over 5 million kids are bullied each year. That means potentially 10 million parents are watching their kids suffer. Of course, not every parent suffers with their children but the good ones do to some degree. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that parents have to step up and solve everything for their kids but they do need to stand by them. Sometimes an interested parent is all a child has in their life and it's not easy.

It's lonely. It's painful. But hang in there. Stay cool. Be that child's best friend. I applaud you for having the guts to walk next to your child in their time of need. Although I probably don't know you personally, I understand that it's one of the most difficult parts of parenting. Your child is worthy of being included. Never forget that it's not about your child. It's about another's need to have power. Don't let that person, even if they're only eleven years old, have power over you, too.

Right now it doesn't seem like there's any silver lining...but this is a chance to show your child that they will always be worthy in your eyes. What a gift.

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