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Are you worried your child will be bullied for having gay dads?
This is a hard question to think about, but I think it’s important to talk about.
I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little worried.
I’m hopeful that parents today will teach their kids that families come in many shapes and sizes.”
I’m an optimistic person and I truly believe that people are inherently good. So deep down, I hope that my daughter never encounters bullying for having two dads…
But I’m also realistic. I know that she will go through hardships growing up, and this could very well be one of them. As parents (straight or gay) we have a tall order to raise our kids in a way that,
- Prepares them for potential hardships, without
- Taking away their positive, joyful outlook on the world
Here are just a couple of ways to maintain that balance and empower your child against bullying,
1. As parents we need to model respectful relationships
Treat others how you would like to be treated – Yes, the golden rule applies to everyone, even babies. Your children look up to you as their hero from the day they are born. They are constantly striving for your attention and quickly start copying everything you do; they wanna be just like you (queue up the country song “Watching You” – Rodney Atkins)
If they see you treating other with respect and compassion, they will replicate that behaviour. But the opposite is also true. If they see you responding to situations by getting angry and raising your voice, then they’ll think that it’s okay to disrespect others.
“If children have been accustomed from the start to having their world respected, they will have no trouble later in life recognizing disrespect directed against them in any form and will rebel against it on their own.” – Alice Miller
2. As parents we need to tech our kids about bullying
We all know what bullying is but let’s break it down into simpler terms,
Bullying happens when someone hurts or scares another person on purpose and the person being bullied has a hard time defending themselves
I’ve been bullied and I’m sure almost everyone has at some point in their life – it’s not a nice feeling. in fact,
In Canada, at least 1 in 3 adolescent students have reported being bullied.
But how can you expect your child to cope with bullying if they’ve never encountered it before?
Well, you can’t. But there are some exercises you can do with them to better prepare them to stand up for themselves when they first encounter bullying,
- Roleplay with your child. I know this sounds silly but by creating a safe environment your child can explore their own solutions to a bullying encounter is powerful.
- Imbue self-confidence at an early age. Teach your child that they are unique and different and that’s what makes them special. They should never feel ashamed about who they are.
- Disengaging (or walking away) can be a valid solution.
Bullying is a touchy subject and there are a lot of misconceptions around it. I want to share this list of bullying myths from bullyingcanada.ca because it does a good job of clearing some of those up:
Myth #1 – “Children have got to learn to stand up for themselves.”
Reality – Children who get up the courage to complain about being bullied are saying they’ve tried and can’t cope with the situation on their own. Treat their complaints as a call for help. In addition to offering support, it can be helpful to provide children with problem solving and assertiveness training to assist them in dealing with difficult situations.
Myth #2 – “Children should hit back – only harder.”
Reality – This could cause serious harm. People who bully are often bigger and more powerful than their victims. This also gives children the idea that violence is a legitimate way to solve problems. Children learn how to bully by watching adults use their power for aggression. Adults have the opportunity to set a good example by teaching children how to solve problems by using their power in appropriate ways.
Myth #3 – “It builds character.”
Reality – Children who are bullied repeatedly, have low self-esteem and do not trust others. Bullying damages a person’s self-concept.
Myth #4 – “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you.”
Reality – Scars left by name-calling can last a lifetime.
Myth #5 – “That’s not bullying. They’re just teasing.”
Reality – Vicious taunting hurts and should be stopped.
Myth #6 – “There have always been bullies and there always will be.”
Reality – By working together as parents, teachers and students we have the power to change things and create a better future for our children. As a leading expert, Shelley Hymel, says, “It takes a whole nation to change a culture”. Let’s work together to change attitudes about bullying. After all, bullying is not a discipline issue – it is a teaching moment.
Myth #7 – “Kids will be kids.”
Reality – Bullying is a learned behaviour. Children may be imitating aggressive behaviour they have seen on television, in movies or at home. Research shows that 93% of video games reward violent behaviour. Additional findings show that 25% of boys aged 12 to 17 regularly visit gore and hate internet sites, but that media literacy classes decreased the boys’ viewing of violence, as well as their acts of violence in the playground. It is important for adults to discuss violence in the media with youth, so they can learn how to keep it in context. There is a need to focus on changing attitudes toward violence.
To wrap it up, raising a cautiously optimistic child is a balancing act that should be approached with,
- modeling respectful relationships at home and
- educating your child about the dynamics of bullying.
Share your story
Share your story with me and everyone here. We are all in this together and I’m always here to chat with anyone experiencing bullying. Please reach out to me.
➡️ Have you ever been bullied before?
➡️ How did it make you feel?
➡️ How did you move past it?
Let me know in the comments below or go join the conversation on Instagram (by clicking on the Instagram photo at the top of this post).
Here are some excellent resources if you are interested in reading more on this topic,
- Bullying Canada – https://www.bullyingcanada.ca/get-help/
- Gay Dad Truths – https://www.austinplease.com/gaydadtruths/