Our oldest son has been struggling off and on over the past few years being bullied – it gets better, and then it gets worse – and right now? It’s worse. As those of you who have a child who has been excluded know, it is absolutely heartbreaking watching your child be excluded and emotionally & physically bullied. We’ve been blessed with a positive response from all fronts – the teacher, school administration, the parents of the other children involved – not to mention an outpouring of support from friends and family.
Still, I’m left with the question of what I can do in support of my son. Long daily snuggles, quiet time together, supportive play-dates, talking through how he can best navigate this challenging social realm, negotiating with the school & other parents, researching resources on bullying… All these are absolutely core to our strategy, but it’s not enough.
Again, I come back to the question – What Can I Do? Beyond devoted advocacy and loving support for my son, I’ve come to the following understandings:
1. I can’t change the children who are treating my boy in this way. I can only do my absolute best to treat them with respect and to feel compassion for the hurt inside of them that is leading to this behavior. I can also offer loving support to their parents as they navigate equally difficult terrain.
2. Recognize that my own history of being bullied is shaping my response to my son’s experience. This is an opportunity to make my peace with that time in my childhood, and let it go.
3. Focus on a spirit of inclusion in my own life. We all have our routines – the parents we always talk and laugh with at the playground or school pickup and drop-off. I’m making a commitment to myself to step outside of this comfort zone and connect with a wider circle of parents during these times. I’m making more tea dates and scheduling shared family hikes. I’m doing my absolute best to set aside my assumptions and prejudices and simply be open.
One of the things I love the most about facilitating a Mama Renew group is the way it opens us up to a wider circle of women – the discovery that beneath the surface identities and realities, we have a deeper shared experience that unites us. I adore the spark of recognition that grows in a group, the growing realization that we’re not quite as alone as we had imagined. Sadly, this spirit of inclusion is not always present in our life as grown adults on the playground… and yet we despair when we see it in our kids…
Your Mama Renew challenge this week?
Reach out to someone new in your life &
model the same spirit of inclusion we wish for our children.
& Please do share: What strategies have you found helpful in dealing with bullying & exclusion?
About Sarah Juliusson
Sarah Juliusson, founder of Mama Renew, is a gifted facilitator and writer on the journey of birth & motherhood. She brings two decades of experience supporting families through pregnancy, birth and motherhood to her work. Sarah is mother to two growing boys, a playful crafter with cloth & wool, student of traditional food preservation, and a diva at heart. Join the conversation on http://www.mamarenew.ca & on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mamarenew