Can a parent be a bully?
The word "bullying" gets misused and overused, I think, and that's unfortunate - because bullying is a very serious thing, that can have horrible consequences.
Whenever I hear about/from a parent who has a child who gets bullied in school, it breaks my heart. I've heard stories from colleagues, friends, family members, etc. But, I have never heard from a parent who says their child is actually the bully. Maybe that's just a coincidence - or maybe it has actually happened, but I didn't hear about it due to embarrassment, denial or just plain ignorance, I don't know.
However, I think parents who take action when their kids are bullying other kids should be commended. But...what about when that action is borderline bullying, too?
A 'suburban' (does that make any difference?) mom found out her daughter was a cyberbully. Kudos to mom for paying attention to what was going on, I say. But, then mom took a photo (below) of her daughter, holding a sign, and plastered it on the Internet for all to see.
The sign says:
"My name is Hailey. I am a kind, caring, smart girl, but I make poor choices with social media. As a punishment, I am selling my iPod and will be donating the money to the charity Beat Bullying, in hopes of changing my behavior as well as bringing awareness to Bullying. Because bullying is wrong."
My question is: Is this bullying? In other words...is this where the daughter gets that it's OK to bully?
Parents are authority, and children/teens should respect their parents completely, and follow their guidance. I know that no two parents are created equal. I know there's no handbook when it comes to molding a baby into an adult - and I also know I'm not yet a parent. But, it seems a decent portion of parenting is common sense, and preparing for the future.
Personally, I think what this mom did is bullying - and stupid. I think this girl's mother wanted to receive applause and accolades for how she handled her daughter's cyberbullying. I think she expected people to call her "Mother of the Year" - and I've seen comments from people who feel this way about the mom. They say, "Good! Bullies need to be taught a lesson!" and "Way to go, mom!" - But the obvious here, to me, is that mom is cyberbullying her own daughter.
And, here's what I think the backlash of that will be: The daughter goes to school, and gets bullied by kids who saw her photo and sign on the Internet. The daughter becomes angry at this, and as a result...bullies back. Or, God forbid, her self-esteem drops so low, that she feels depressed and loses ability to care about her own well-being.
Not a good job, mom. Not at all. How is that teaching her anything?
Whatever happened to parents picking up a phone and calling other parents, or arranging a time to meet over coffee or tea to talk about the issue and resolution privately? You know...actually parenting?
Have we lost all touch with how to connect to another person and their feelings, to the point that the only communication we know - whether it's to bully, resolve an issue or discipline children - is electronic?
You can only truly connect with someone - anyone - when you unplug.
Corny, I know, but I think it's true.