Bullies target those who are different from them. When I think of bullies, the first thing I think of is children — or at least it used to be.
All too often parents are both aggressors and victims. As awful as these behaviors are, they are neither new nor completely avoidable. Parent bullies can exist in all facets of life: PTO, the workplace, playgroup, places of worship.
Why they behave the way they do is a topic for a different time. My question for you today is, what do you do when you see these behaviors being exhibited toward others around you?
Maybe you dislike confrontation so you keep your mouth shut and your head down. Or perhaps you just don’t want to rock the boat and have them turn on you. These fears are understandable, but not justifiable.
Complacency is contagious, but so is doing good. You do not have to sit idly by in your juice-box-filled, perfectly day-planner-scheduled, immaculate bubble of parenthood and ignore those around you who are hurting.
You can recognize the harmful behavior and, although you can not control the actions of others, you can help those who are being targeted. One person can light a candle that fuels an entire chandelier. As we as parents stand up kindly to those who aggressively put others down, we show our children that it is not only possible but pertinent.
Try these 3 strategies when standing up and stepping out. Pro tip: you don’t have to be an extrovert to practice these.
Share a snack, coffee or a beer with someone new. That mom that’s always by herself, invite her to lunch. Share a meal, a meaningful conversation, a laugh. Share your thoughts, ideas, concerns and dreams. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability.
If you see a human bearing the brunt of another’s jokes or ridicule, don’t just sit by and watch. Regardless of how different they, their beliefs, or parenting styles are from yours, stand up and take a side! It has been said that neutrality in observers only helps the aggressor. Step up and let the bullied individual know you’ve got their back.
Step out of your comfort zone
Reach out to new people and invite them into your circle. Accept them for who they are without conditions or strings. Worry less what others will think about you and more about what your children will learn from your actions.
There will always be bullies; they are as old as time. The good news is we do not have to let their harmful behaviors infect our day-to-day lives. Be the proverbial antibiotic that stops the spread of bacteria! Exhibit light! Show love!
The bonus material to this is that our children will imitate what they see. The benefits to this newfound boldness will flow over in a ripple effect. Go be brave and enjoy the outcome.
Photo Credit: Sara Starkey Conner- Gateway Brew
This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.