October is Bullying Prevention Month and while most of the focus is on childhood bullying, sadly bullying doesn’t stop once you’ve grown up and finished school. For many it will continue on well into your mommy years. There’s no escaping it sometimes – you deal with co-workers who try to intimidate you, other moms who want to be competitive with you and random strangers who just can’t seem to be nice.
Bullying is just one of the many challenges I faced while growing up. I naively thought it would all end once we were out of school and into the real world. Even though I moved away from the both the place I grew up and where I went to school, I still encountered meanies in the real world. You’ve been there too. Maybe it’s the co-worker who’s guilting you into coming in early to work on a project or do more work because you’ve taken time off to go to a school play or stay home with a sick kiddo. Family first! Or it could be the mom on the playground who’s pointing out how much her kid knows or how she doesn’t spend her time on her phone at the playground. It must be exhausting keeping track of everyone’s kids to compare yours to! It could even be being the butt of jokes in your group of “friends” when you’ve done something silly. Haven’t we all????
I’ve been in every one of those situations (and so many more) and wanted to share some things with you:
- It’s not you. I know sometimes it’s hard to believe, especially when you’re in the midst of the situation, but it’s not your fault!
- You don’t have to respond. Fight or flight kicks in and you stand there stunned trying to think of something to say. You don’t have to give them the time of day. You are not required to respond.
- You’re not a tattletale. After trying to have a rational conversation and handle things on your own, sometimes you need to get other people involved. That doesn’t mean your tattling, it just means the person causing problems needs to hear things from someone else.
- A little ray of sunshine. Ironically, when you respond with something positive, it totally throws the bully off their game. Don’t instigate or try to start a fight, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing the amazing art your child created or how you’re sharing posts on Facebook about missing animals while your child plays.
- Don’t judge. Sitting and people watching is a great way to pass time but don’t find yourself falling into the judging game and becoming the bully yourself.
Years may have to pass, but things always work out. I joined Facebook several years ago and reconnected with people I’d gone to school with and will openly admit I was kind of excited to finally be “friends” with some of the “cool kids”. One day I got a message from one of those “cool kids” that included some very nice things about how she’d realized how she treated me during our high school years. We still stay in touch and it really made my day when I saw that and realized people could see their mistakes and be big enough to apologize for them, even if it was a lot of years later.
Now I’ll also say that I’m not perfect and have been less than delightful myself at times. My past doesn’t make it right but I can see how bulling is a learned behavior. Stop being the bully. Each person has the power to make a choice each and every day to spread happiness and love during their day. You (or your child/family/pet) don’t have to be the shining star. Really – it’s ok to not be perfect at everything. It can be completely exhausting (yes I’m speaking from experience here). Please reach out to someone if you are being bullied or if you’re the bully and need help working through things.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, are in danger, or are feeling suicidal, call 911 immediately.
Immediate Medical Assistance: 911
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863