Parent or Bully?

 Walking through the supermarket or out to dinner, it is hard to ignore.

Stop whining, you sound like a baby!Said a Mom to a little girl asking for a snack. 

Don’t cry. You are such a little girl.” Said a Dad to a  little boy with tears in his eyes. 

“Don’t be such a brat.” Said to the little girl pouting for a toy. 

It is pretty clear to me why the incidence of bullying has increased so drastically in our schools recently. I’ve heard these same statements out of the mouths of children. They say it on the playground, cafeteria, and in the halls. The words are nasty even when taken out of context and without the nonverbal cues that come with them-angry scowls and mocking tones. Where do you think they learned to speak that way to others? Where did they learn to use that language? That tone?  Once they get to school, the seed has been planted and often has taken root. It is there that as teachers we try to teach understanding, compassion, and empathy. We try to undo much of the damage that has been caused during those years that are so formative in a child’s development. We try to teach that name calling actually does hurt and compassion heals. But when a child goes home to parents and that example of bullying is further reinforced, all the bullying programs in the world won’t affect change in a child’s heart. If we want to see changes in our schools, we must first see changes in our homes. We must learn to parent not to bully. 

I’ll be the first to admit, raising children is by far the most challenging, frustrating, and at times confusing thing I have ever done. There have been more times than I’d care to remember where I have been frustrated, angry, or just plain exhausted and have said things I didn’t mean or in a tone that was unnecessarily harsh. We all have been there. I’m willing to bet you use those moments, like I do, as a reminder to keep our tempers in check, even when we have been pushed to the brink. I’m NOT necessarily taking about those moments in reference to bullying. I’m talking about the true definition of bullying, the one talked about in school, repeated, unwanted behavior that is often aggressive and uses a perceived or real power imbalance. One of the key words in this definition is repeated. Losing your temper and resorting to this type of parenting once or twice, while hurtful, isn’t bully parenting.

It can be easy to confuse bullying and disciplining. We excuse talking to our children this way by saying we are disciplining them for doing something wrong. We don’t always hear the tones that come out of our mouths and we don’t hear the words we say. We get caught up in the moment and don’t realize the impact our words, tones, and name calling can have. Perhaps our children were whining for a toy, being overly dramatic about being told no, or having a temper tantrum when their request was denied. As parents, we know those behaviors are wrong and often require us to address them, but it is how we address them that make us parents or bullies.

  • Disciplining unacceptable behaviors requires consistency, not name calling. 
  • Parenting requires a firm but loving hand, not abuse of power. 
  • Raising children to be patient and kind requires that we show patience, not aggression.

Just as God is patient and kind with us, so should we be with our children. God doesn’t berate and belittle us when we repeatedly make mistakes. He doesn’t call us babies when we are upset that things don’t go our way. He doesn’t tell us to stop wining when things don’t turn out the way we wanted them to. Even when we turn away from Him out of spite or hurt, He is always there to welcome us back. All these things are examples for us. He shows us  how to be parents, not bullies.

To be clear, I’m not taking about emotional abuse, that is perhaps a more extreme example. I’m taking about being mindful of what we say and how we say it. We are parents and we need to act like it. Is it always easy? Of course not. But it is necessary. In our society, we need to seek to solve the issue of bullying at its root which is in the home instead of using our schools to try and undo a foundation that has already been set.

Which will you choose- to parent or to bully?

~Leanne

Over the Moon Link Party
My Random Musings
Pink Pear Bear

13 Comments

  1. April 17, 2016 / 11:34 pm

    I am learning from my daughter’s parenting skills and am mindful of how I intereact with my darling grandson. Thank you for reminding us to take care even if we aren’t aware of how we may sound. Thanks for sharing at Over the Moon.

    • Leanne
      April 18, 2016 / 6:18 pm

      Sometimes we get so caught up in what we have to get done that you are right, we aren’t aware of how we may sound. Thanks for reading!

  2. April 18, 2016 / 7:49 am

    Oh I completely agree with you – I found even reading those comments that you overheard uncomfortable – I’m not saying I’m perfect but I’d like to think that I’m more careful in the way that I try to parent – certainly in a more encouraging way and not so negatively .. and you’re so right – we need to be consistent in our parenting – but not always easy I appreciate. A really thought provoking read #BigPinkLink

    • Leanne
      April 18, 2016 / 6:20 pm

      Thanks for reading! It can be very hard (especially for us sensitive souls) to overhear sometimes. Consistently is so important, yet so hard sometimes because life can get in the way and it can be hard to prioritize. Thanks for dropping by!

  3. April 18, 2016 / 8:24 am

    Interesting and yes I agree that as parents, we are often the first role models for our children and they learn from us. We should always be mindful of how we react to our children. #bigpinklink

    • Leanne
      April 18, 2016 / 6:22 pm

      Being the first role models, I see so much of myself in my children, good and bad, it’s hard to remember sometimes the long term impact we can have on our littles. I appreciate the comment 😉.

  4. April 18, 2016 / 12:26 pm

    I’m glad you cover the fact we have no way of knowing all the details. Seeing your kids parrot your behaviour is a powerful corrective and it’s made me more aware of tone and context especially in high pressure situations or when patience is stretched!

    Thanks for your thought provoking post.

    #AnythingGoes
    #BigPinkLink

    • Leanne
      April 18, 2016 / 6:25 pm

      Every now and again, I’ll catch mine repeating me and it definitely makes me stop and wonder if I really sounded that way…like you said, it can be a powerful corrective. Thanks for the response!

  5. April 18, 2016 / 1:00 pm

    Great post as child who suffered neglect and emotional abuse I can see how it can go too far, but even the snap phrase spoken day to day can take their toll over time. I find it’s a case of dismissive-ness as much as anything else. #bigpinklink

    • Leanne
      April 18, 2016 / 6:28 pm

      You are right, it really is a short road from snap phrases and dismissive-ness to more severe forms. And how we treat our children day to day can really add up. I just pray that so many positives can help when there are days when my patience (and mind!) is stretched thinner than I’d like. Cheers to your strength and survival!

  6. April 18, 2016 / 3:22 pm

    This has made me think, as a parent I dont hit or name call, but I know at times I do shout. As you mention out of frustration or tiredness, not a huge amount I might add. But as quickly as I do it, a little thought of regret goes through my mind. Reading this it has made me think of my goals as a part (Yes I set myself goals!) the main one being be patient. I need to practice this more and thank you for making me relect #anythinggoes

    • Leanne
      April 18, 2016 / 6:30 pm

      We are can get frustrated and raise our voices. After all, parenting is a tough gig and not for the faint of heart! I appreciate the idea of setting parenting goals too, most days I strive to be a better parent and person. But to be honest, sometimes I just strive to survive the day! Keep fighting the good fight and thanks for stopping by!

  7. April 19, 2016 / 4:31 pm

    I am guilty of this sometimes, (as I’m sure all humans are!), but I make a point of apologising to my children, explaining that I lost my temper and that it wasn’t acceptable behaviour and then we talk about how the way I spoke to them made them feel and we chat about how it made me feel bad too and that we should try and speak kindly to others for both our sakes but if we do lose our tempers, (and discuss that we undoubtably will at times!), we need to say sorry and try to make amends with words. Thanks for linking up! #bigpinklink

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *