I grew up in a household of boys. All of my cousins were boys until I was 10, and even then my only girl cousin lived in Malaysia with her missionary parents. I know about boys. I know a lot about boys. I know how they bully each other, how they feel before and after, how it makes them feel powerful, how it makes the other guy feel weak. To this day, I think I understand boys more than girls. Boys fight and punch, call names and spit at each other. It’s no fun to be bullied, whether by a boy or a girl.When my 2nd girl was born, I knew God had a good laugh. He knew I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I knew boys. I knew them inside and out. Girls, well, I knew one pretty well—myself. I had some girlfriends. I knew them a little bit, but childhood friends come and go. I felt like I was travelling to a foreign country where I didn’t know the lingo. I was excited, so much that I literally wept when each of my girls were born. I felt like God entrusted me with so much when He gave me girls.
I’ve learned a lot of wonderful, amazing things about girls. One unfortunate thing I have learned about girls is that they bully one another in really awful ways. Rob and I joke about it, but in raising girls, there is some sort of drama going on in our house every single day. One girl’s best friend one day is her worst enemy the next. We help her through it, get that issue resolved, only to begin again the next day with the next girl. It goes on and on and it never ends! Are my girls to blame for the drama? Probably sometimes. They’re not perfect.
I was talking with Whitney the other day about the difference between girl and boy bullies. She said to me, “Girl bullies are worse, because they bully to leave a scar.” I agreed with her. Girls bully to intentionally leave a permanent emotional scar in the life of the one they are bullying.
How do we keep our girls from intentionally bullying someone to leave a permanent scar?
What choices can we make as parents, friends, or mentors to girls that will help them overcome the desire to belittle others to make themselves look more important?
What steps can we take to build a child back up after they are given a “permanent scar” from a bully?
These are all questions I am going to be thinking about over the weekend. I’d love your input as I’m trying to put together ideas about how to keep our kids from bullying one another.
Mrs. Night lived across the street and a few houses down. She was old. She was crabby. She was a bully. Her lawn was precise and practical. Not one blade of grass was out of place. If a weed popped up or one blade of grass grew longer than the other, she went out with her sun bonnet and scissors, got down on her hands and knees and went to work. The bullying came when we would be playing catch across the street and a ball rolled on to her lawn. Within seconds she would zip out of her front door, scoop up our ball and run back inside of her house while she yelled, “I am always watching!” She terrorized us. The neighbors that lived across the street from us had children that grew up in the 60’s, and they said Mrs. Night was old and mean way back then. We theorized that she must have a room full of balls that she collected through the decades.
Stacy bullied me in high school. She had eyes for my then boyfriend. She was about 6ft tall, her hair almost taller than she was. She wore acid washed jeans, a jean jacket, ripped up flannel shirt and dark, dark eye-liner. Every day I saw her in the hallway she would mutter under her breath her choice expletive of the day as she ran into me-absolutely terrifying me. I remember being at a school fair with some friends and heard that she was there and wanted to kick my behind (not the word she used). I was so terrified of her, my stomach started to hurt and I started shaking. She smoked. She did drugs. She beat people up on a regular basis. She was a bully.
What Bullies Want
These bullies might look very different, but they both want one thing—to be in charge. They want what they want and will push, shove, manipulate, smash, and pulverize whoever gets in their way to their goal.
Each of my girls have been bullied in one way or another. When it happens, we try to deal with each unique situation with fresh eyes. Every bully is motivated to get what they want, but every bully is hurting and crying out for attention in a negative way. We talk about how they probably don’t have a home where they feel safe. We tell them that some people are just mean. We tell them that bullies bully because they have been bullied, either by their parents or other kids.
When our kids are bullied, I want nothing more than to take out my Mamma Bear claws and fight back. I’m learning to step back and give lots of hugs while helping them understand why this might have happened from the bully’s perspective.
Were you bullied? Have your kids been? What is your first response to bullying? What is your best response?