How does the modern parent handle bullying?

 

How does the Modern Parent handle bullying? Tune in!

Bullying is not a new problem.  It has happened over time, to all ages.  Chances are you have been bullied at some time in your life.  You may have been too big, too small, underweight, overweight, too smart, too slow, too red-headed, four-eyed, or even too friendly.  The examples are endless.

On this episode of BlogTalkRadio, Taryn Voget and I talk about bullying and discuss empowerment strategies for kids and parents in bullying situations.  We talk about the triangle of dis-empowerment and how to shift your thinking to a triangle of empowerment.  We also share great scripts to use with your children who have been bullied.

Tune in for this high impact, 30-minute radio segment.

Listen to internet radio with WiseTalk Modern Parenting on Blog Talk Radio

You can also view  this episode on BlogTalkRadio.

 

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What can a father say to his over-weight, bullied daughter?

What can a father say to his over-weight, bullied daughter?  Well, it’s not actually what my father said, it’s what he did.

Rewind back and I am 15 years old and entering my junior year of high school. I am still over-weight. Or more accurately describe, at this point I am obese. I am about 245 pounds and a size 20 women’s clothes.

My journey through school, as some of you may have read in other blog posts here, was nothing less than a torturous experience.

The teasing, taunting, and continued comments assaulted me daily.

It’s the night before school starts: I am living with my dad after my parent’s divorce. I am in my room and my father comes in to remind me that school starts tomorrow and I should probably go to bed. (By the way, he didn’t have to remind me, I was highly aware of what the next day had in store for me.)

He noticed a shift in my presence, my energy. He asked the question, the one I didn’t want to answer, especially to my father:

“What’s wrong?’

I could help it, or stop it. The tears came flowing and I moved into “the ugly cry.” I just lost it. He asked, “What is going on?”

Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was embarrassed and wanted to keep my pain to myself, but I couldn’t.

“I can’t get on that bus one more time. They are so mean, Dad. They even offer me drugs to lose weight because I am so fat!”

(At 15, I was extremely naïve. A boy actually offered me crystal meth because he knew I wanted to lose weight. For a moment I considered it. If it could end the pain, it just might be worth it. But I decided that drugs wouldn’t fix this problem.)

My father simply said…

“What can I do to help?”

I thought about it. I knew if I got to school, free from the bus experience, I could handle the rest of the bullying throughout the day by going to the bathroom, or pretending to read, or staying late in class. I just couldn’t start another day on the bus being teased.

There was hope on the horizon. I was scheduled to take my driver’s test on October 19th, only a couple of months away.

If my dad could just take me to school in the morning for a couple of months, that would give me a break. At least I could begin my day free from bullying.

The only problem was my father was a night owl. He would stay up till 3am or so and go into work around 10 or 11am. He was NEVER a morning person. Christmas day was a nightmare for me as a child because I had to wait till 10am to open presents!

This is what I said to my dad:

“If you could just give me a ride to school in the morning, I can make it through the rest of the day. I know 6am is early. I’m sorry. I just don’t think I can take it any more. I need help. Just until my birthday, then I will have my license.”

My dad knew I was sincere and felt my desperation.

He simply said, “Ok, I will take you in the mornings.”

I felt a wave of relief. Hope that things were going to be better. Hope that I could get through this experience for another year.

He didn’t lecture me, shame me, tell me that I should “suck it up,” or embarrass me anymore than I already was. It was really hard to share my feeling with my father, but I trusted him.

So my father got up every morning for the next 2 months at 5:30 am to take me to school. He actually made the best of it, joined a gym, and used the time in the morning before work to get fit.

The day after I got my license, my father never woke up at 5:30am again.

Some might say that my father “sheltered” me or didn’t allow me to work through my experience on my own. The truth is my dad knew me: he could feel my pain in the moment. He knew that I would never ask for help if I didn’t need it. He knew that that the solution was inside of me. And he knew how he could support me most.

My father taught me a very valuable lesson that day. Sometimes all we need is someone to ask a simple question: “What can I do to help?”

Check out the previous article in this series:  What my mom said when I was bullied.  It saved my life.

 

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What my mom said when I was bullied. It saved my life.

In the late 70’s and even early 80’s bullying was not in the headlines.  It was just part of life, a right of passage, a moment to suck it up or stand up for yourself.

I was raised deep in the heart of Texas where tiny body size and Barbie doll cuteness, call it cheerleaderabilty, was every girl’s number one goal.  When I grew up, obesity just wasn’t all that common in children or adults.  So as a very overweight child, the fat girl in school, well you can imagine what I went through.  Or maybe not.

I moved to a new school in 2nd grade.  That’s where this story begins.

I was the biggest kid in my class and considered somewhat of an Amazon child.  I was just abnormally large in both height and weight.  At least that’s how I felt and perceived myself.  And what I was reminded of by my classmates daily.

One boy caught on to my insecurity and began his torture sessions (bullying) for next 7 years.   Everyday, from the moment I got on the bus, throughout class, at lunch, on the bus ride home, it was the same story:

“Heather, Heather, not light as a feather”

“Hold on everyone the bus is going down! Heather’s getting on.”

“You’re just a fat-ass.  No one likes you.  You will never have anything.”

“Fatty fatty 2 by 4, can’t fit through the bathroom door.”

“Haven’t you had enough to eat?   You could skip lunch everyday and still be fat.”

“Go home to the 3 little pigs house, you big fat pig.”
(Oh yeah – side note – my mom and dad were both overweight too.)

It goes on and on and on and on.

I had enough.  One day this boy called me a whale in line.  I decided that moment to take matters in my own hands.  I threw him against the lockers and started beating him as hard and as long as I could.

We both found ourselves in the principle’s office. This was back in Texas when you got “swats” for bad behavior. (For those who don’t know this term, a “swat” is a spanking with a large wooden paddle.)  Thank God the Dean of the school had a teenage daughter, who just happened to be my nanny.  The Dean stood up for me and my tormentor got 5 swats and a call home.  I went back to class.

I thought that this would end it.  No!  It just added fuel to the fire.  He came back to school and told everyone that his dad said, “It was worth the swats, because after all, she is a fat-ass.”

Every day, every year he reminded me that I was worthless.

I made it through school and would be happy to come home.  A place that was safe, loving, and supportive.  In moments, right before bed, my mother would notice a shift in my energy.  She would notice a sadness come over me.

She would come to my room before bed and lay on my bed to “talk”.  I didn’t want to talk about my sadness because I was embarrassed and ashamed.    She would look at me in the eyes and say, “I know something is wrong, how can I help?”

I confessed my secret.  I told her, “I am worthless, I will never have a boyfriend and I will never be anything because I am fat!”

My mom in her wisdom said one sentence, the sentence that changed my life:

“It’s not true.”

At the time I argued with her.  I told her it was true.  Why would everyone say it and laugh if it wasn’t true?

She explained.

“You are here on purpose, this I know for sure.  I was not supposed to be able to have children. Ever.  I had cervical cancer and part of my cervix was removed.  The doctors told me that even if, by chance, I did get pregnant, I would never carry a child to full term.  So your father and I decided to buy a semi-truck and be truckers across America.  Shortly after we decided to hit the road, I found out I was pregnant.  The doctors said I would never carry to full term and to be prepared to lose the baby.  You decided to hang out in my belly for a long time.  You were born 2 weeks late, 10 pounds 4 ounces.  You proved them wrong. “

“You are a miracle.  You are here on purpose and have special unique gifts to offer this world that NO ONE else has.  The boy is wrong. “

The best conversation my mom could have offered!

She reminded me of my greatness.  She reminded me that I was a miracle.  She reminded me that I matter, regardless of anyone’s opinion.

She instinctively knew to confirm and re-affirm my greatness.

She instinctively knew that confronting the bully would not solve the situation, it would likely just embarrass and humiliate me even more.  She knew she had to stand by me and be the voice of courage, reason and hope.  She couldn’t solve this one for me.  She had to inspire me to do it myself.

That boy never stopped bullying me.  But every day I would replay that conversation with my mother in my head.  I reminded myself, “I am a miracle, worthy, and important.  I know he is wrong. I believe my mom.”

A few weeks ago, I happened to run across that boy’s Facebook picture.  Guess what?  He happened to marry a beautiful, blonde, overweight woman.

I guess he actually liked me after all! 🙂

How can you remind your child of their greatness today? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

See the next post in this series: What can a father say to his overweight, bullied daughter?

 

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