What You Need To Know If You're The Parent Of A Child Who's Being Bullied
I was a bullied child. I was your son or daughter, not so long ago. I woke up every morning, afraid of what was to come. From the time I opened my eyes, I knew the torment that lay ahead in my day. Unless you have lived in that moment, it's hard to understand our struggle. When we decide to tell you what's happening, stop everything you are doing, breathe, take a seat and open your ears. We need you at your strongest, so please try to keep it together best you can. This is the first step in your child asking for help.
What we are about to tell you is going to be hard to hear. It will devastate you. You are going to feel a flood of emotions all at once. You'll feel heartbreak, rage and helplessness. Stay calm, and keep your composure. Remember, we feel the same emotions on a different level. You are going to hear things that make you feel sick to your stomach, and it will probably only be a portion of what we go through. We do this because we love you, and we are trying to protect your heart. We know you want to know every detail, and over time we may give those to you. But for now, don't push … just listen.
Please know the moment we tell you, we see your heartbreak. And that's OK. You just reminded us how much you love us. Now pull us close, hug us as tight as you can and say the words. We need to hear them. Don't be afraid to tell us you're sorry for what we're going through. That will mean the world to us, as well.
Know that your hugs provide our safety, and your prayers give us hope. Your words of encouragement give us strength, and your efforts to help us mean everything. You are the reason we keep going each day. Your comfort calms our fears, your shoulders dry our tears and your love reminds us that we are not alone. It is very important for us in this time that we do not feel alone. Find a way to make us laugh, we need it more than you know.
Please don't be angry out loud and fly off the handle when we tell you about what's happening. We understand you want to help us, and we understand why you feel that rage, but it doesn't make us feel better. What helps us more is you listening, staying calm, collected and strong. What we need is for you to help us work through it and to help us find resolve. Listen, learn and research, so you have a full understanding of the situation and ways you can help us.
Realize that your power will be limited to stop it because you aren't with us in school every day. Kids will be who they are. If it's a bully's mission to cause us pain, no principal, parent or teacher is going to make them stop. With that said, have numerous different avenues at the ready to help us handle it. There may come a time when we may want you to intervene, but only with our permission. Please understand this is our life and our struggle, and if we tell you not to do something, don't get angry with us. We've only asked you not to because we know that, in the end, it will make things worse. We know you are our parents and you want to get involved, and we appreciate it. But we need to you respect the situation
Please leave us off social media unless we say it's OK. Respect our privacy. We are probably embarrassed about what's happening, and we may not want our struggle shared with the world. We understand you want to raise awareness — God knows we do, too — but it may also only make this worse.
Let's face it: Kids are all over social media. God forbid your post goes viral and some kid from schools sees it. Even if they don't mean harm, they will show their friends and so on and so on. And in an instant, it comes back on me. At some point in time it will reach the screen of someone who dislikes me, and they will use it to cause damage. That may mean they print your post 100 times, and by Monday morning it's on every locker in school. Kids will laugh, and I'll feel like sh*t inside. That's the last thing either of us wants.
Some days we won't want to talk about it. Please don't push us. We just don't want to deal with it that day. Home is our escape, and sometimes after what we've gone through, we just need a moment away. Just show me your love and be patient. Allow me my space and my time. I promise that when I'm ready, I will tell you everything. Give me a moment to unwind and unload, and offer me a smile. It goes such a long way.
Stay vigilant to our moods and behavior, you know us better than anyone else. If you notice us shutting off and secluding, talk to us. And if necessary, don't hesitate to get us some help. We may need to see someone, depending on how bad things get. Kids can, unfortunately, be ruthless, and our little minds and hearts may reach a point of helplessness that requires a professional to step in. We may not like it, but do what you have to if you see we're becoming at risk.
Don't blame yourself for what we are going through. It's not your fault for what they do. You aren't the person who is giving us torment, so the blame is on them, not you. If you see something we can change to make it better, please help us the best way you can, even if that's changing schools. Sometimes a new environment can offer a fresh start. It doesn't mean it isn't going to happen again. But if it does, at least we know you did everything you could to help us last time, so we will probably come to you again. The last thing to say to us is to “face it” or “deal with it." Trust me, we are. You are going to make us feel like we can't talk to you, and talking to you is exactly what we need to do. We need to vent.
The best thing you can do is be positive, and keep reassuring us that it will all be OK. Work to build our confidence with affirmation and affection. If you see we've found an outlet for our pain, embrace it. Even if its death metal, just put on a happy face. This is our way of dealing with it, and everybody deals with things differently. Unless it's dangerous to our health, safety or the safety of others, don't take it away.
Support us and love us, and we will get through it. There will come a day when all of this ends. Thankfully, school is not forever. Your strength will give us strength, and your hope will give us hope. Your hugs will make us feel safe, so hold tight until we let go. One day we will thank you for doing this, and we will look back on how far I've come together.
Struggles in life mold us into survivors, and someday we will let this all go. But today, this is our reality. And we need you more than ever.