Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Once a Bully, Always a Bully?: Relevant Parenting Fears

What are your list of "I won'ts" when it comes to parenting? As in "I won't raise a brat," "I won't raise a bully," "I won't raise a (insert your reviled political party here)." Most of us start off with the best of intentions, but what happens when things don't go the way we planned? What if your child is the bratty one that others secretly hope won't rsvp "yes" to playgroup, and how does it feel as a parent when you realize that your child is the bully that others fear and revile?

Most assume that such children result from fundamentally lacking homes, thus the comforting litany of parental resolutions that we think will shield us and avert such calamitous results. But, as a mother from the U.K. recently shared, worrisome behavior can crop up in the best of families. Realizing that society will all too willingly label and pigeonhole her child in a ill defined box, she writes, "there's definitely an element of the bully being a child who's been labelled and who doesn't know how, and isn't being helped to shift out of that "naughty child" position, and so who simply goes on living it, digging himself deeper into the hole."

Taking the behavior seriously is essential. The victims of bullying behavior are left with sometimes lifetime repercussions, and in some tragic cases take their own lives, as was the case with the recent highly publicised online bullying case. But parents also have to be on their kids side in a world that will easily label and discard them.

So scratch out that "I Won't" list and instead start an "I Will" list:

  1. I will acknowledge who my child is
  2. I will accept them as they are, and love them where they are
  3. I will be their biggest advocate
  4. I will hold them accountable
  5. I will not hold their youthful indiscretions, terrible relationship choices, and misguided political affiliations against them, and I WILL feel free to comment on them vociferously.

Photo courtesy of healthwatchcenter.blogspot.com

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