This post is part of “Bully No More,” an editorial series hosted by the Fort Worth Moms Blog.
Do I bully my child? No way. I mean, I don’t think so. Well, I did pinch his cheeks and call him chubby the other day, but I said it in a very loving way. He is the cutest baby on the planet, after all, and he has some rolls. Crap, I did it again. Calling my baby chubby and telling him he has rolls isn’t bullying. Right? It’s playful teasing . . . I think. Or, oops . . . did I accidentally bully my child?
Ever since becoming a parent five months ago, I put a lot more thought into everything I do and say. I am a firm believer in leading by example, so that’s what I do in all things. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t mess up. I’m only five months into this parenting thing after all, so I’ve barely scratched the surface.
My husband and I have spent hours upon hours talking about how we want to raise our son and what our family values are. With everything we’ve discussed, we want to make sure that we teach our son to be loving, kind, and accepting of others. This goes straight back to my whole thing of leading by example. How can I expect my kid to be these things if I’m not these things myself?
I was bullied growing up. Kids teased me for having boobs and having to wear a bra in fifth grade. I was picked on for having cystic acne when the other kids had porcelain skin. Some kids pointed and laughed at my copycat off brand clothing and called me names for not having the “real thing.” I wish I could say these were the only bullying incidents that I encountered growing up.
I’ve been humiliated, belittled, called names, laughed at, and shoved, but for all of the bullies I’ve encountered, there has always been at least one person to stand with me and tell me to ignore them, to sympathize with me, and to even encourage me to stand up for myself. I’m so thankful for these people and for their parents for teaching their children to be kind to everyone.
I can’t help but wonder if the bullies I encountered saw their parents bullying others or if their parents were bullying them directly, causing them to bully their peers in return. I believe bullying is a vicious cycle, and there is no greater influence in a child’s life than his or her parent.
When I start to tease my son, I stop myself to make sure whatever I’m about to say isn’t hurtful in any way. I consider what type of domino effect my words can cause. Yes, my son is only a baby, but what happens when he starts forming sentences? If I call him names, will he say those things to others? What happens when he resists instructions? When he won’t get in the car, or put down the toy, or tells me “I am ruining his life”? How will I react? Will I bully him to get what I want?
Again, it’s my responsibility to lead by example. The best way to show our children — no matter how young or old — to treat people with respect, dignity, and humility is to do that as parents.
Bullying is always lingering, and sometimes it’s difficult to decipher if you’ve crossed that line when you’re play-teasing or even disciplining your child. It’s hard work to think before you speak (I wasn’t the greatest at it pre-baby), but once I realized how easily kids absorb things I knew it was time to work that “think before you speak” muscle.
Have you caught yourself accidentally bullying your child? Or, have you caught your child repeating something you said that came across as bullying? If so, what did you do to rectify the situation?