In my work for Together for Humanity, I must have read hundreds of articles while looking for solutions to specific forms of bullying and there was very limited mention of parents. I can easily understand why there was so little focus on parents’ role in eliminating bullying. It seems there is a fear of addressing the issue, as if pointing a finger at the parents will only make things worse.
Although I believe blaming is not a good strategy in solving any problem, I do think that shutting our eyes to the importance of the parenting style in creating the problem is not going to get us any closer to the solution.
As I wrote in the previous chapter, bullying research, however limited, has still found important factors in the home life and parenting style that create or prevent the creations of a bully:
- Home with harsh discipline
- Physical punishment
- Bullying or abusive parent (or family member)
- Lack of supervision
- Overly permissive parents
- No warmth or comfort
Parents are the most important role models for their kids and the most valuable socializing agent. When their parenting style supports bullying behavior, they do not do it because they are mean and abusive. They do it because they do not know any other way or are not aware of the effects of their parenting on their kids and on society.
I think that avoidance and fear of discussing the parenting side is not doing parents any favors. By drawing attention to the importance of parenting, we can actually give parents back the power they need in order to run their family life in a productive, supportive and positive way. As a result (almost a side effect), we will also be reversing the bullying trend.
My personal belief is that parents are themselves victims of parenting styles that have driven them to their current attitude and behavior. When my sister bullied me to clean something at home, she did not do it to be mean to me. She did it to lighten some of the load she had to carry as the oldest sister at the age of 13 while in charge of 4 younger children.
Some people may call parents who work extra hours “neglecting parents”, but my parents saw themselves as taking responsibility for supporting a big family. None of the home environments listed above are meant to hurt anyone. They are designed to regain some power and control that seem to be missing.
In difficult situations, much like the difficult situation of raising a bully, we can take one of three approaches:
Justifying – using circumstances to excuse the behavior of the kids or the behavior of parents by saying things like “He had a rough childhood”, “She is just a frustrated child”, “I have to work extra hours to put food on the table” or “If they experience pain, they won’t do it again”. Justifying makes the problem acceptable.
Blaming – getting the load off our back by saying things are not working because of someone else, like “His dad used to hit him when he was a kid”, “He had an awful teacher in Grade 3 who messed him up” or “My husband left me and it was hard to manage the kids, so I had to be tougher on them”. Blaming eases some people’s pain temporarily, but increases long term pain for everyone.
Taking responsibility – realizing it is the parents’ role to balance the jungle of life for their kids’ survival and saying “I need to provide my children a safe space, with warmth, attention and care and with clear boundaries that inspire confidence”. Taking responsibility gives us the power to face our problems and solve them.
So we should let parents know we are not blaming them, but we are giving them information and knowledge to develop their skills and to find alternative ways to gain power and strength. When they feel empowered, their children will too. There is no parent in the world who will go against that.
I know the bullying topic is very sensitive. I would like to encourage you to write your opinion about bullying and anything related to it. I am sure that getting perspectives of other readers and professionals will help bring the bullying issue to the attention of our society. Please use the comment box below to add your thoughts and ideas to the discussion.
An until next time, find out where you can take responsibility.
This post is part of the series Bullying:
- Bullying Facts and Myth
- Bullying Statistics are Scary
- What is NOT Bullying?
- Types of Bullying
- Why Do People Bully?
- Victims of Bullying
- Bullying Bystanders
- Home of the bully
- Home of the bully (2)
- Workplace Bullying
- Workplace Bullying (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims
- How to Help Bullying Victims (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (3)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (4)
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders (2)
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying (2)
- How Workplace Bullying Bystanders Can Break the Cycle
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying (2)
- Bully Parents
- How to Stop Parental Bullying
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (2)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (3)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (4)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (5)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (6)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (7)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (8)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (9)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (10)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (11)
- How to Stop Bullying with Empathy: The Story of Two Apples