Bullying in the Home Cause and Effect

Bullying series introduction

Home is where the heart is. This saying shows that family is a key element in every person’s life. Whether it is for good or not, no one can escape the influence that a family has on their lives. I am fortunate that I have an awesome family – supportive, loving, warm; always got your back. I know that I cannot afford to take this for granted because, even though sometimes we don’t always agree, we are still there for one another. Every family has their problems because at the end of the day, everyone in there is an individual with their own personality, hopes, dreams and aspirations and sometimes they just clash. In many cases, compromises are made and people get as best they can and love does the rest. But, as we know, this is not always the case and this is where problems start. So just as charity begins at home, so can bullying--and sometimes we as teachers, counselors, adults and human beings need to open our eyes. Yes, bullies can be cowardly, hurtful, spiteful and sometimes violent. But sometimes, the reasons for their behaviour go deeper and this article will try to go beyond the surface. This is not easy and if I have made any mistakes during the course of this that causes anyone distress, I apologise profusely.

Bullying in the home is not always physical, but the mental and emotional bullying that takes place can be just bad, if not worse--because it is unseen. These are the things that I will be focusing on in this article.

The first type of thing is unfair expectations being placed on children. As parents, you want what is best for your kids. You want them to succeed. You want them to do well. As great, loving parents, then this is what you should aim for. I am not a parent myself but I have brilliant parents who despite their faults (yes they do have them as do we all) have tried their utmost to encourage me, my sister and brother and I am grateful to them for that. Sometimes, lines do get crossed and sometimes parents go too far and expect their kids to fulfil the dreams that they themselves could not. They push and push and it can get to be too much. When I was little, I wanted to be a doctor like my dad. It was something, that in my young mind, I was passionate about. My dad, knowing me, questioned me about it, asking me if I was sure – not because he doubted my determination and drive but because he could see my skills and abilities lay somewhere else. It took me till I was about 16 before I realised that being a doctor, admirable as it was, was not for me. It is natural (or it should be) for parents to want their kids to do well – better than they  did, even. But be careful not to empty your frustrations on your children. This mental and emotional pressure can be too much for them to bear.

Another way that a child can be bullied is by being ignored. Children are gifts from God. They are to be loved, cherished, corrected and encouraged. Ignoring them is damaging. Not saying things that you should like ‘I love you’; ‘I am proud of you’; even telling them to stop something that is damaging to them, can affect them years down the line. There are times to keep quiet and let the children breathe and, yes, sometimes parents get it wrong, but ignoring them or their problems is not the way to go. I am not going to give any cheesy clichés. Bullies, especially if they are young, sometimes feel like they have to do something extreme to get their parents' attention.

The opposite of being ignored is being on the receiving end of negative comments, putdowns, and abuse. For me, this is one of the most harmful things that a parent can do. And a child who is being bullied in this way will manifest dangerous and sometimes violent behaviours. Low self-esteem can drive people to the most extreme of behaviours – bullying being one. Depression, self-harm, even addictions have their roots in low self esteem.

Of course, there is the physical abuse that some children suffer. It is inexcusable and almost unforgivable, especially if they cannot defend themselves. As I have said before, hurting people hurt people. If parents--as children--suffered this type of abuse and bullying, and have not managed to deal with all the issues associated with this, the cycle may repeat itself with their own children (because it does not always pan out like that).

So there you have it, everything is deeper than it seems and there is normally more than one side to the story. We need to keep our eyes and minds open.  I am aware that this is not always the case, and that some bullies just love to inflict pain - as well as being confronted, they need to be pitied more than anything.

Take care and God bless readers . . . .

© Ngozi Nwabineli – September 2009

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Ngozi Nwabineli
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