Turn the other cheek and RUN LIKE MAD

If you think that one of the happy byproducts of homeschooling is that your children don’t have to deal with bullies, you would be wrong.  Bullies come in all different shapes and sizes.  And they can even go to your church.

There is a kid in Emme’s Wednesday night church group that has made her life, um, difficult.  This particular child takes delight in calling my daughter “stupid” among other more colorful words.  And my daughter is not alone, as this child has also picked on Emme’s cousins and other children.

At first I had a discussion with Emme that included your typical What Would Jesus Do type of dialogue.  At dinner one night, I gently suggested that this girl might be friendless and lonely, and was acting out trying to get attention, so it might be a good idea to engage her in conversation.  “Like what?” Emme asked.  Well, like “how was school today?” or “what did you dress as for Halloween?”

She looked me square in the face and said, “Mom, she came to the church Halloween party dressed as the devil.” Cailey chimed in that this was indeed true, and went on to describe the costume.

Blink.  Blink.  I re-thought my strategy.  And in my head, I screamed “Avoid her.  Avoid her like the plague.

The last straw came when I one week, Emme left the Wednesday night meeting in tears.  It seems that this girl told Emme to say a word.  Emme, having never heard this word before, asked “What’s ****.” At that point, the bully chimed in loud enough for the class and leaders to hear, “EMME JUST SAID ****.”

The leader, who Emme just adores, admonished Emme and told her that was inappropriate.  Emme had enough good sense to realize she had just been duped and she was highly embarrassed.  I asked her what the word was, and she said she didn’t remember, but thought that it began with “F”.

Allrightythen.

The mama bear in me came out, claws extended.  I was prepared to march myself up to that classroom and have a private COME TO JESUS meeting with this child, while introducing her to the business end of my crutch.  Which likely wouldn’t have been a good idea, because lately I’ve discovered that I have absolutely no filter on my mouth, and what with 50 years of pent up anger that I surely am harboring, I’m certain to be looking for a new church.

While wearing a prison issue day-glo orange jumpsuit.

Instead, I spoke with the leader of this particular children’s ministry.  He was wonderful, and knew that there were issues with this child and he would make sure that this didn’t happen again.

Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to introduce myself to this young lady, and scare the tar out of her with my highly refined stink eye.

Until one day Emme pointed her out to me at church.  I whispered to Fiddledaddy, “Oh good grief, I think she could take both of us.”

There’s only one thing worse than your child being harassed by a bully.  Being harassed by a bully that is bigger than your angry mama bear.

Things have died down for the most part, and in the last couple of weeks she hasn’t been picking on my child.  But from what I’m hearing from other kids, she has not changed her ways.  I tell you, I fight with the feeling that this kid should be kicked out of this Wednesday night group.  Which is pretty much NOT WHAT JESUS WOULD DO.  I’m sure this church group is exactly what this child needs.

It certainly has been a learning experience in our house, as most real life unpleasant situations are.  I’ve instructed Emme to pray for this girl, while maintaining a safe distance…HEY, I’m flawed.  I’m human.

Have you all had to deal with the bully issue? And if so, how do you keep from letting your maternal instincts land you in hot water?  🙂

16 Responses to Turn the other cheek and RUN LIKE MAD

  • Many years ago our son was bullied. I took my son over to the boys house, knocked on the door, introduced my self and my son to the boys mom and told her what her son did and how it made us feel. I asked her how she planned to deal with it because I was not putting my son in danger and if she didn’t want law enforcement involved, she better move fast. That weekend, they moved out… Word spread fast to not mess with the crazy woman in the red house and son never had another problem. In fact some of the kids asked me to help them with the bullies in there lives. I was not rude, but I made myself really clear. Now parents don’t care as much but still I expect parents to behave as parents and if there kids mess up, act like parents.
    The one time my son was the bully, I met him at the door with my wooded spoon in hand and the phone up to my ear. He knew I had been told…..It never happened again.

  • Isn’t it interesting that we fight an instinct that was given to us by our Heavenly Father?

    I agree with the above poster in confronting the bully AND their parent. I will also tell you that such a thing is downright. . .hard (terrifying, emotionally draining, etc.).

    However, not only does it allow the culprit, and the parents, know what is going on and how it affects others it also shows your kids a life lesson that is oh-so-worthwhile. (Really!)

    Prayers for you.

  • My son was bullied in school.He was more mentally bullied than physically because he would react every time,which I guess is what this young lady hoping to achieve with her victims . We spoke with the head of the school and with the class teacher but eventually we decided homeschool was for us. Over the years there were other bullies, most of them in out of ‘school’ activities or clubs and most with excuses made FOR them by the adults running the show. However ,when we spoke with the naughty children ourselves, they were quite cowed just by being spoken to as human beings, which does make you think.
    My advise would be ..to those being affected by this girl; don’t react,she is trying to shock and goad but if it doesn’t work, she is wasting her time.

  • So glad you did this post. Yes my kids are homeschooled and so far only 2 of them have been bullied. My daughter the most because she is super sensitive. Unfortunately it was a boy whose mom I was friends with and she tried to work with this kid to her defense. The problem was he was being picked on and so he was taking out his insecurities and frustrations on my daughter. I finally got after him too, however what stopped it was I told my daughter to please ignore anything he said other then cordials “hi, hello, I am fine today etc.” But no matter what he said otherwise to ignore him. He lived off her reactions. The other issue was with my son with some special needs, there is two boys in our neighborhood who are I am convinced the devils spawn. Their parents are nice enough but are never around so they are unsupervised etc. Either way the pulled my son of his bike, took off his shoes and threw them at his head, then continued to throw pinecones at his head (this was a couple weeks after teaching my son how to switch mail out of mailboxes) and call him retard and saying he was too stupid to know they were picking on him. My son’s defense mechanism is to laugh. They saw me round the corner and took off. I took care of my son, then went marching down the street. My neighbors never see me do that so they wanted to know what was up. LOL I must have looked like a maniac. anyway the parents were not home, but the next day I got the mom to answer the door, actually her son had the nerve to show up at our end of the neighborhood and I made him go get his mom to come to the door, her comment to him was…the neighbor is here oh gosh is it good? anyway I let her know and she seemed mortified and we did not see those boys down here for 3 mos. it was great. They are now coming down gain though and all the crap is starting but with other kids. So unforunately I told my kid sthey cannot play out front if they are down here, however they invite the other kids into our back yard and those boys are left alone again.

  • I think a chat with this child’s parent is definitely in order! Maybe they don’t know their child is acting this way…although allowing your child to dress at the devil at a church event is sort of questionable. LOL

  • We had to deal with a bully in a Wed night program at church. We did have to talk with the parents and let them know they would not be allowed to come back for two weeks if they did not stop. This seemed to work the parents did not want to give up their free Wed night out to deal with their unruly child.

  • When this kind of behaviour comes up at our church’s weekly outreach to kids in a tough neighbourhood, we first send them to the hall for a timeout, where an older couple who are very kind but no-nonsense talks with them. Many of these kids come from horrific home situations, and they often spill the details at those times and are comforted and asked if they can be prayed for. They are also warned that their hurtful behaviour will not be tolerated.

    If the behaviour is repeated, they are suspended for a week. They are warned and can be banned for the whole school year eventually. Their parent(s) are kept updated.

    While they do need what we provide, especially the Bible teaching, they also need to learn that their behaviour is wrong, and the other children need to be protected. We can’t let one child spoil it for others. So this plan meets the needs of all of the children.

  • we have had this issue over and over again with my son… he has been bullied and also the bullier, which he was in lots of trouble. it is letting up in high school but even at 14 and 6’4 he still gets bulllied.

    now the bully is ms… and I am not sure what to tell him.

  • My scenario is similar to Jenna’s story. We had two different incidents that involved neighbor kids. Our kids are not allowed out of the yard but kids are allowed over to our backyard. There are 11 year old twins who, with their 7 year old brother started taunting our son our then 8 year old son. A physical altercation happened between the 7 year old and our son. I talked with the Mom after much prodding from the twins to come out of the house. They lied to their Mom in front of me. She said they were to not go to our house anymore.

    I was thankful I didn’t have to be the bad guy and say they weren’t allowed over. A few months ago the one twin said, “We’re allowed over again. Can we come over?” My husband’s response was no. The amount of strife has dwindled to nothing.

    We had another incident with a teenage boy across the street. He’s very immature and the kids he hangs around with are the neighborhood kids that are 5 years younger. He was told he wasn’t allowed over anymore. He walked on the sidewalk taunting the kids and my son got upset. Isaiah ran and pushed him and this young man was on top of my son. I was livid. Our son was disciplined for escalating it but I couldn’t believe how this almost 16 year old was acting. Our son is close to his size and looks older than what he is.

    My dh had a talk with his mom. She said she would talk to her son about what happened. My husband’s response was…I don’t care what his story is…stay away from our house. He has not been back since. The boundries just had to be clear. Our daughters are friends with his sister. Our kids went to their house for a b-day party. He doesn’t even walk on the sidewalk in front of our house.

    Now, our son was the bully toward his good friend. He was angry with his friend when he wouldn’t do what he wanted him to and dropped a metal pole on his shoulder. Our son got upset when he realized HE was the bully and toward his good friend. He was disciplined and he had to apologize and ask for forgiveness from his friend. Ah…the lessons of life.

    I would talk with the parents since this is not an isolated incident. I don’t blame the kids. The parents are the ones that have allowed this but they can’t deal unless they are made aware. What they do with that information is up to them but you gotta let them know.

    Praying for you!

  • Oh DeeDee, I know the mama bear rage very well. (Which would freak some people out because I am usually HIGHLY conflict-avoidant.) My daughter was verbally and physically bullied on the school bus (slapped, spit on and choked with her own scarf!). After getting over the urge to beat up a first grader, we notfied the bus driver and my daughter’s teacher (they were also in the same class). While your situation is a little different-what I learned from this process that it can be very healing for the child (and the mom) to know that when you ask for help-there are people who will COME RUNNING to give it. The bully was swiftly punished by the bus driver, the teacher and the school principal. She was made to apologize to my daughter in front of the assistant principal and my daughter was reassured that there were other adults who would be keeping an eye on her. I also talked to other mothers who had children on the bus and they agreed that their children would look out for my daughter-talk about a little bit of positive peer pressure! Throughout the process we talked about how we cannot hate the person who did this and that oftentimes people who hurt will hurt other people. We prayed for this bully’s hurt to go away so that the bully wouldn’t hurt inside or hurt others. My daughter also realized that this bully didn’t have any real friends and was probably very lonely. We stressed that she was to keep clear of the bully as much as possible and that she had the right and responsibility to stay safe, but also reminded her not to hold any hate in her heart. That would do more damage to her than to the bully. About a month later I volunteered in my daughter’s classroom and made a point of helping the bully with her project because she was struggling. (Only for you, Jesus!) It was a very interesting moment when I calmly told her that I was the mother of the child she had bullied. She didn’t say anything, but she looked at me for a long time. I went right back to helping her with her project and let the matter drop. It was a healing moment but man, that loving your enemies thing is tough! Sorry for the length of this post but my point is: I think it isn’t going overboard to explain the bullying issue to some of the parents of Emme’s friends in a kind and loving way, ask for their help and sit back and watch God’s people come to the aid of one of their own. Then pray hard and in love for the bully (since God loves the bully, too) and I hope it will be a healing (although maybe hard) journey. Okay-stepping off soapbox now. You and Emme are in my prayers.

  • Yep, we faced the bullies. The sad part is that I’ve discovered that many of these mean kids are products of mean parents. Little bullies grow up to be big bullies. I think you made a wise decision to enlist the help of other adults who are in authority with this child. And, I also understand your feelings and wrote about it in this blog post: http://dkwwrites.blogspot.com/2009/05/mama-bear.html

    Hope the situation continues to improve. Unfortunately, it’s a hard life lesson.

    Be blessed!

  • Oh my, do I have a story for you!!
    When our son Luke was 10 years old and in fifth grade, he was enjoying a wonderful year in school. He was in the gifted program, on the school news team, making straight A’s, playing soccer, and just having a glorious time in his last year of elementary school. He was well-respected at his school as a leader and as an extremely intelligent kid. He did have one “thorn-in-his-flesh” though and his name was Joe. Joe had been in Luke’s class for three years. He constantly bullied Luke when the teacher wasn’t looking. Joe was very crafty, you see. They had one scuffle in fourth grade where there was a little pushing and shoving involved and Luke’s teacher called me about that one. My husband and I have a strict rule when it comes to physical violence. It is not acceptable. Our boys know that and they know that if there is any form of physical violence involved, they will be punished. So, even though it was minor pushing, Luke was punished for the incident. My husband and I discussed this many times because we didn’t want our boys to be “wimps”. We didn’t want them to be runover by bullies, but we knew it was extremely important for them to know that physical violence is just not acceptable. It’s tough being a boy though. Anyway, back to fifth grade. Joe continued to pick on Luke. He was always poking him and pushing him – when the teacher wasn’t looking but his favorite thing to do was to put Luke in a headlock. One day, Luke had enough. He decided he was tired of the headlocks. So, as Joe approached him, he told him to stop. He had never done that before. So Joe said “What are you going to do about it – hit me?” At that point, the kids around started chanting “Fight!” So, Luke took Joe down to the ground. Yes, my son used physical violence against the bully and yes, my son struck first. The fight was broken up and they were both sent to the principal’s office. This was the day before Christmas break. The assistant principal called me about the incident. They didn’t say Luke started the fight, just that Luke was in a fight. Luke’s punishment from the school was to not have recess for two weeks after Christmas break. I really thought that was a weak punishment for a fight, but I think the school knew Luke’s reputation and knew this was out of character and they knew Joe. So, they were merciful to Luke. I am normally the merciful one in our household. My husband is not. But in this case, we sort of switched roles. Luke told us the whole story. Luke has always been extremely honest. He’s very sensitive and compassionate, so I couldn’t believe he had been in a fight. I was just appalled that my innocent sweet little Luke had struck first!!! I was angry with him at first. I just felt he had ruined his reputation and that he was totally wrong for fighting. My husband, on the other hand, told me that he thought Luke did the right thing! What!!! How could that be? We talked at length about it and then my husband and I talked to Luke. We told him that we understood his choice. My husband even told him that he would have made the same choice if he had been in the same situation. But, regardless, the punishment still stood. He had to face the consequences of the choice and so he did receive our punishment for physical violence. Several of our friends and even my parents disagreed with us. They didn’t think Luke should have been punished. But that was our rule. We, as parents, had to show consistency in our parenting. So, Luke was punished.

    Joe never bothered Luke again. The bully continued to bully, but he didn’t bully Luke. That’s the good news – for Luke anyway. Fast forward to 5 months later. I received a phone call from the school that all the parents received. They were alerting us of a school bus incident. A child on one of the buses had attacked the bus driver and several students and several students were taken to the hospital. Everyone was ok but they just wanted us to know about the incident. It was the major story on the news that day. When I picked up Luke from school, the first words out of his mouth were “Joe’s in jail, mom!” I said “What?” Then he informed me that Joe was the child who had attacked the bus driver and the kids on the bus. He, of course, was not really in jail but had been taken away by the police because of the severity of the incident. Luke was vindicated in my mind. Until that moment, I had wondered still if Luke had made a poor decision by striking first against Joe that day. I worried that maybe my purely innocent honest child had maybe stretched the truth a little. But that day, my sweet boy was vindicated. I realized that Joe was not just a bully. He was a very troubled child, probably with a difficult homelife. I don’t know what happened to Joe. I hope he’s ok. But I think my son learned a very important lesson. There will be consequences for the choices we make in life – both good and bad, but ultimately, justice will be served because we serve a God who loves justice. And we serve a God who loves us so much that He is involved in every little detail in our lives. I still pray for Joe when I think about him occasionally. Like right now.

  • So sorry for you and your daughter’s frustration and pain in this situation. My boys are still very young, so we haven’t addressed this yet. Bob Barnes from Sheridan House Ministries has just done a 5 part series on this (followed by a series on cyber-bullying). You can find it at http://www.parentingtoday.org. Praying you find a healing and God-honoring solution for your family and this bully.

  • My kids are also homeschooled, and my son was bullied at MOPS by the leader’s daughter. The “teacher”, a young adult, not only encouraged it, but participated! My son tried everything we could think of to make it work, even confrontation, and it never got better. We ended up quitting MOPS over it, and the girl’s mom was in the dark the whole time. Bullying happens everywhere.

  • Not bullies exactly, but for some reason most of the children we know my oldest have not been children we want her to befriend..as a close friend. She is so sweet and doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. And that causes it’s own set of problems.

  • The other day, Jude and I had a heartfelt conversation about a boy who was being mean to him, and how to react to him. We went through the whole WWJD thing. Jude nodded, and seemed to understand. Then he said calmly “Yes Mama. But sometimes I just want…revenge.” Hehehe.