Dear Experts in Childhood Development,
I am divorced from my children’s father. You’ve told me over and over again that I’m not supposed to bad-mouth their father – especially to my kids. You have told me that if I do so, I’m also hurting my kids.
You also give me advice on how to handle bullies. I’ve learned that we are supposed to have open discussions at home about bullies and bullying behavior. You’ve said that in order to prevent bullying, we have to talk about it and call it what it is. You tell me that these conversations must happen in order to make the world a safer place for kids.
My kids’ dad is a bully – he’s a narcissistic bully – and yet you tell me I can’t call him any names.
You encourage me to call the bullying kid on the playground a bully, but I’m not supposed to call their dad a disparaging name. Isn’t that a contradiction? Isn’t that creating more confusion around the whole issue of bullying.
To a kid that sounds mixed up. It sounds mixed up to me, too.
If another kid pushes you around, calls you names, belittles you and makes fun of you, you are encouraged to tell an authority figure. You are told to stick up for yourself, call out that bully on the playground and make it known that he is mean to other kids.
If your dad pushes you around, calls you names, belittles you and makes fun of you, you aren’t supposed to call him a name. Your mom isn’t supposed to call him a name, either. She’s supposed to preserve his reputation so as not to cause you any further harm.
Dear experts in childhood development, you are wrong.
If this cycle of bullying is to stop, we need to call out those bullying parents on their behavior, too.
When your dad is a bully, you call him a bully and you don’t pretend he’s anything other than a bully.