No one likes to be hurt, emotionally or physically. One of the very first words we as parents teach our babies is “Gentle!” as soon as they start to reach and grab. Then, as they explore more, we change our language to “no hit” and “play nice”. We instruct our toddlers to use their words instead of their bodies and then when they do use those words to shout or say something unkind we reprimand them for speaking poorly to their friend. Because really, neither hitting or unkind words are good options.
We try to teach empathy and emotions by asking “how would you feel is someone said that to you?” hoping the child understands it’s nice to be nice. Even if they don’t want to be. Rough behaviour isn’t tolerated and neither are rough words.
Social graces are taught next. No whispering about people, that’s not nice. Be inclusive, don’t leave a friend out. Share your toys, be friendly, use your manners.
Somewhere down the line, the word “bully” makes it into our vocabulary. Often it’s school age since bullying is a bigger problem when the adult-child ratio is smaller and there aren’t parents at every playdate to solve every scuffle. We worry about our children being bullied and attempt to raise non-bullies.
Here’s some food for thought – do adults follow the same rules we set for our children? Are adults empathetic? Inclusive? Friendly? Sharing and Polite?
Nope. Not always.
We’re all guilty of some poor behaviour sometimes, it’s human nature but I’ve noticed a growing trend and it’s Mom Bullies.
Schools reference The Bully, The Bullied, and The Bystander to teach kids that bullying is bad, but those who don’t stop it, are just as bad. If the Bystander stands up to the bully then we set an example to police one another’s poor behaviour and raise the confidence and support system of the person being bullied.
Why don’t adults do that? Where there are Mom Bullies there are also Mom Bystanders, too nervous of what others will think to intervene. So many of us were taught to avoid conflict, better just to look away and ignore it. Or more likely, unsure of how to deal with bullying as a third party.
Mom Bullies are out there – in the playground, at ballet lessons, on Facebook and yes, even sometimes appear in momstown. As in any mostly female group, the unfortunate stereotype is true, women can be mean to one another. We are also hugely loving and supportive but the worse element, gossip, perpetuates bullying. Exclusive activities/parties/groups versus inclusive organizations provides an arena for bullies to thrive and continue to reign.
How to deal with Mom Bullies? Address them. Use your words (just like you tell your kids!) and stand up for yourself. Explain how their behaviour makes you feel, regardless if you are the bullied or the bystander.
The #1 reason moms don't seek out supportive networks of other moms is because they fear being judged. They're concerned they won't fit in. They believe all moms are competitive, bragging, know-it-all bullies. We know that's not true, all moms are not bullies, most moms are wonderfully open-minded parents also seeking support and friendship. Especially in a supportive and moderated real life community like momstown. Isn't that an unfortunate misconception? A few negative bad apples who bully, ruin it with an example set for others??
Have you been bullied by another mom? Have you been a ByStander? What actions have you taken?