5 Ways to Prepare for the Bully
Are bullies necessary?
Whoa. Before you try to have me hung for blasphemy, let’s try and have a healthy conversation about this. Let me be clear about one thing, I’m not a bully advocate. I was bullied growing up, weren’t you?
Weren’t we all?
It sure wasn’t enjoyable. I remember being worried about which route we’d take when walking home from school for fear of running into “Steve” the 6th grader who liked to bully us younger kids. Or how bout the bully on the snow hill on our side of town. He’d give face washes and even punch some of us. Then in middle school, I had a classmate that always called me “Brain Dead” instead of Brandon every time he saw me and it drove me bonkers. In another instance in middle school, I also had an upperclassman who would seem to be around every corner and always threatened to beat me up. “Why does this guy not like me?” I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t even know who he is!?”
There was also this kid on my wrestling team being particularly mean in wrestling practice to me, because he knew that he could. At the town festival one night, I was walking by myself and I saw him and a couple of his buddies coming my direction. I pretended to not see him, but the bully always sees you right?! He saw me coming, and even though I pretended to not see him, he punched me in the stomach and laughed at me with his friends.
Don’t we all have stories like this? Isn’t it just part of growing up in an imperfect world?
I’ve seen this happen with my 6 year old already. He’s been scared of being around a kid who’s a grade older than him, because he’s a bit of bully. Witnessing it happen isn’t easy as a parent either, and my knee-jerk was to intervene; however, I recognized that there was a bigger lesson for my son to learn from this experience. The lesson wasn’t to avoid or run from the bully. The lesson is to confront the bully.
Now that I’m almost 37 years old, and I look back on those uncomfortable moments in my life, do I wish I wouldn’t have had those experiences? I honestly can’t say that. Those experiences helped shape me and they also taught me to stand up for myself, to get strong so I could defend myself, and that some people are just plain mean. It prepared me for the bullies that are in the world post school, because they never really go away, they just take on different forms.
As much as we want to protect our kiddos from experiencing such things because they are uncomfortable for them, are we doing them a disservice by trying to remove all of these experiences from them? At some point, no matter how we enforce rules in our schools, organizations, etc….they are going to go toe-to-toe with a bully numerous times in their lives. Do we want them to experience that when they are an adult for the first time? Or would we like to have a few experiences under our belt first so we’ve been toughened up?
To be frank, I’m sure I’ve been the bully before too! I may not have fully understood it at the time, but I know for sure that during my times of hurt growing up, I’ve hurt others. It breaks my heart to admit that, but there’s probably a good chance, that you’ve not only experienced a bully, but perhaps you’ve also been one?
Do we start taking the Joker away from Batman?
Is there no more Lex Luther for Superman?
Avengers become the Condoners?
Take the Devil away from Jesus?
Maybe it’s just the way that I view the world, but there’s going to be adversaries at some point in our life. In fact, if we can agree that adversity in our life helps us become stronger, than an adversary is really just another name for a bully isn’t it?
If you’re a person of faith, then you know of the spiritual adversary Satan, and he is very real. Probably a post for another day, but he too, is a bully. Just so we’re on the same page, I’ll say it again, I’m not pro-bully. I believe hurt people, hurt other people. Do we think this will ever change? Let’s all hope and pray that it becomes less and less frequent, but for me and my house, here’s 5 things I’m going to train them up so they are ready when they face the bully:
That their identity isn’t found in the acceptance of others, but it’s found in Christ and through him we can conquer all things.
We will have strong bodies so bullies don’t perceive us as weak.
We will know how to defend ourselves if a bully engages with us.
We will defend others who aren’t able to defend themselves.
We will then teach those unable to defend themselves to be able to defend themselves.
One last time, bullying is NOT a good thing, there should be less of it. I just don’t think the bullies are going anywhere anytime soon. So, until they disappear, we will be preparing our kiddos and others for the bullies that will surface in the coming years.