Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bullying At Home

I've posted a lot about bullying at school. That's where most of what people think of as bullying occurs.

But that isn't the only place. Some kids and teens, unfortunately, are bullied in their own homes. Sometimes those kids and teens are also being bullied elsewhere; sometimes they turn around and bully others because it's the behavior they've learned and they want to have power over someone because they feel they don't have any power in their own lives.

I'm not talking about child abuse; that's a whole other subject, and one which I've also posted about. And probably will again. I'm talking about more subtle things. Things like a parent telling a child, "You could do so much better in school if you just weren't so lazy." Or, as in one case I read about, a parent removing a child from public school because the child was being bullied for his sexuality, and then putting the child in therapy to be "cured" of being homosexual.

I'm a parent, and I have definitely said things to my kids that were out of line. I comfort myself with the thoughts that (a) I've apologized for those things, and (b) probably most, if not all, parents have those moments. But there's a big difference between slipping *once* and telling my child to "get off your lazy butt and clean that room", or a parent constantly telling their child to "stop being so lazy all the time".

Being bullied by schoolmates can have a lifelong effect on someone, as I've discussed in the last two posts I made here. But being bullied at home can be even worse. A parent, trusted by a child, telling the child over and over how "lazy" they are, can have more of an impact than someone at school, who the child probably doesn't trust, telling the child over and over how "stupid" or "ugly" or whatever they are.

And sometimes it's worse still when the parent *thinks* they're doing the right thing. For example, in the case I mentioned above, the mother did do the right thing by taking her son out of school when the bullying became severe, and she *thought* she was doing the right thing by trying to have her son cured of his homosexuality. She believed that if he was cured, he wouldn't be bullied anymore. But trying to "cure" something that doesn't actually need to be cured is just as much as form of bullying as calling the same kid a "queer" or other names, and it was worse because it came from the child's parent, the one person who should, in an ideal world, have accepted him.

If you're a parent--and this goes for me, too--think about what you say to your child on a daily basis.

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