Bullying is one of the hottest parenting topics out there. As one of those overly protective moms, I have often overreacted to hurt feelings. Often times, I’ve used this terminology without really understanding its side effects. Aside from putting a label on kids, it also decreases opportunities for building resilience, acceptance and most importantly: resolution.
My last two posts had me vowing to clear my helicoptering parental habits. And ever since then, I have exorcised the demons! Well, sort of. There’s still a nagging feeling that wants to govern every situation my kids simply must experience on their own. But now I’m doing my best to ignore it. Even when it comes to the neighborhood bully. So I’m working on a different approach.
Which has me putting my new set of rules to the test: Case in point, The other day Pascal’s neighborhood tribe of new pals suddenly turned on her. She spoke of some rude name-calling earlier yesterday and I fought the urge to run out on my lawn, eyes a blazing, asking which kid wanted to experience a real bully. So for a moment, I fantasized about it and then directed my attention to Pascal. How do you imagine the issue resolving itself?
And then I buttoned my lip and listened.
Pascal seemed to have it sorted until the text messages started in as we were sitting there. I suddenly realized this was a bigger problem than just a squirmy boy calling her ugly (apparently name-calling isn’t considered bullying, go figure!). These kids were only engaging in a normal act of thick-skin building meanness until they began pulling other kids into a group text, ganging up on Pascal with the promise of social exclusion as far as the our neighborhood development could see. Then she was blocked, by all of them, in unison, so she couldn’t respond. Now that, my dear mom friends, is bullying.
Learning the ins and outs of this stuff is new to me, especially now that I’m So-Called helicopter aware. And even though none of us want our kids to feel any of the above, it helps to see these problems separated out into categories so that we know when to stay grounded and listen and also when to fly in, rescue and hover like hell.
But the information on what to do is still conflicting in my mind, despite obsessively reading a number of articles between my sleeplessness last night and this mornings coffee. Step in or get out-of-the-way? Rescue or relax? What builds resilience and what feeds into self-destruction?
The difference between intervening and not isn’t a chasm dividing the two, it’s splitting hairs between championing parenthood and letting your kids down when you should’ve been there.
And even though I seem to do it plenty, I’m not into the mom-fail thing. Or letting kids get away with bullying mine.
So then, I’d Love to hear it directly from my mom group.
What would you do: Intervene or not?
That is the question,