What to Do When YOUR Kid Is the Bully

What to Do When YOUR Kid Is the Bully

A few weeks ago I received a phone call I never thought I would receive. One of my eighth grade teens was in trouble for bullying a sixth grade girl and her seventh grade friend. What to do when you find out that it's your kid whose the bully.

I was not prepared for this call. Never in a trillion years could I imagine my children bullying another person…especially a female. My children are raised to respect everyone. My boys are taught to respect females. My children are not taught to disrespect, bully or belittle anyone…especially a female.

After hearing what was immediately reported by the girls and after hearing both girls were simultaneously and separately questioned over the incident to ensure this was not a false accusation, I was told my teen had a different version of the event but same words and behavior was retold by all three. As a mother, I was shocked…angry…horrified. As a woman, I was as pissed off as one could get.

I immediately asked if he was going to be suspended. The mom side of my brain thinking “there goes any chance he has to get into a high school magnet program but he needs to be punished for this behavior.” Suspension was a definite possibility but because of the school knowing me from the hundreds of hours I volunteer, they would not pursue that option. I was very torn over that. I was angered that his actions weren’t being disciplined. I was relieved that he was not being suspended. I was angered that my generosity of volunteering at the school was being used as a cloak to hide him from the reality of the real consequence. I was dreading…really dreading the phone call I would have to make to The Big Guy. I was a whirlwind of emotion, each covering a different form of anger and sadness.

When he returned home from school that afternoon, I was a wreck. I didn’t know what I wanted to say to him. I didn’t know how I was going to react to him. But when he tried to excuse his way out of his behavior by blaming another person, I lost it. I told him he wasn’t allowed to open his mouth again until his father got home. I told him how utterly disappointed, hurt, angry, pissed off, and shocked I was at him and his beyond horrible decision to act the way he did. I told him that although I inadvertently saved his butt at school from any consequence, I was in no way saving it here at home. He was told his night and the foreseeable future were not going to be fun.

That evening was hell. Literal hell. His father was extremely angry. Lots of yelling occurred. Lots of lecturing occurred. Punishment was given. And then I spoke. Not as a mother but as a female.

He was told how it feels from a woman’s point of view. How it feels when a male belittles you. How it feels when a male calls you names. How it feels when a female feels threatened in any way because of a male. How the words, behaviors and actions of just one male can forever affect a woman’s psyche. How his bullying ways make him look like the weakest person, not the toughest.

As a parent, I have prepared for certain scenarios my kids may find themselves in. I have prepared for and expect a call if they have been drinking with their friends. I have prepared for a call saying someone skipped school. I have prepared for a call saying our class clown of the brood got in trouble during class. I never prepared myself for the possibility that one of my kids would be the bully in the bullying situation.

Did we handle this ordeal correctly? I don’t know. I think so. Did he see more emotion and hear more screaming than he has ever heard before? Yes. It was needed. Did he realize that the issue would be as big of a deal as the school and we made it? I don’t think he did. However, he very quickly realized just how big a deal it was to us as his parents. Did he leave the two hour long “discussion” understanding how wrong, horrible and stupid his actions were? Yes. Will he ever do it again? He would be a fool if he ever chose to make the same decisions he did that day, again.

What he also learned was how every decision you make in life affects more than just yourself. He learned that his behavior not only affected him, it affected me and our family. I am a constant presence at the school. My reputation will now be correlated with my childs behavior. Our parenting will forever be correlated with his behavior. People who know us will know that we do not condone that type of behavior. But people who knew nothing about our family, values, and/or parenting, now see us as the parents of that kid who bullied that girl.

I tried to make sure my teen understood the value of first impressions; that to some who did not know him, his persona is that of a 14 year old bully-who not only bullied another student, bullied another female student. I tried to explain that we all do dumb things. That I understood it is easier for me as an adult to see the bigger picture, to see what kind of consequences stupid behavior like his can cause and leave behind. That he had to trust me on this one…every decision/action/choice you make has some kind of reaction/outcome/lasting impression.

This incident made us realize that a sit down with all the boys needed to occur. We realized that although they are not exposed to or are around people who degrade one another, bully one another or belittle the opposite sex, we had to reiterate how important it is to treat everyone with respect, dignity and kindness. We realized we had to have an open conversation on how to properly respect a woman. Out of all the talks we have with our children, I don’t think we had ever had a discussion about respecting a female. I guess I never thought we had to have that talk because they see how to properly treat a woman by watching our loving and respectful relationship.We realized, no matter how much good you try to instill in your children, they are still just kids, who every once in awhile make bad choices.

I never imagined myself dealing with the situation we dealt with. But it happened. And we reacted. Never once was his behavior condoned. Never once did we let him make an excuse for any of his behavior. He was punished. He saw how disappointed we were in him as a person. He heard an earful. And hopefully, he learned from his behavior.

Bullying is not a joke. Bullying doesn’t make you look cool. Bullying someone makes you look weak. Ask my son. He can tell you just how weak he looked that night, sitting in a chair while his father looked down at him, silently shaking his head in utter disbelief…

 

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Dani Walker

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