Child Bullying and Queer Parenting in 2024 (6 Bullying Myths Busted)

Austin Please
Updated on
December 20, 2023
"Hey Austin, Are you worried your daughter will be bullied for having two 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.

’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. Our kids are always watching, so it’s important to be conscious of how we respond to conflict and treat people who are different from us.

“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 teach 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 because it does a good job of clearing some of those up:

Bullying myths

Bullying is an issue that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It can cause long-term psychological damage to its victims and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and even suicide in extreme cases.

Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding bullying that can lead people to downplay its seriousness or suggest ineffective solutions like telling children to simply “stand up for themselves”.

Myth #1 – “Children have got to learn to stand up for themselves.”

Reality – We must listen carefully whenever children reach out for help to address bullying. Their cries for help are a call to action we must not ignore. In addition to providing empathy and reassurance, offer practical skills and strategies to embolden children with the confidence and know-how to stand up to bullies. With compassion and the tools to resolve conflicts, we can empower children to overcome cruelty and take charge of their emotional well-being. No child should face the anguish of bullying alone, so let's ensure our support is a lifeline they can grasp whenever needed.

Myth #2 – “Children should hit back – only harder.”

Reality – This could cause serious harm. Rather than viewing aggression as a solution to problems, adults should demonstrate positive conflict resolution to children. Power and size disparities may enable bullying behavior, but that does not make such behavior acceptable. By modeling constructive communication and compromise, adults can show children that might does not make right and that violence is not an appropriate strategy for resolving disputes or addressing insecurities. With guidance, children can learn healthy ways of navigating interpersonal challenges. Through leading by example, adults have the power to nurture empathy and resilience in children instead of perpetuating a cycle of harm.

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.  There are many ways to build character without tolerating cruelty. We should teach children positive ways to develop confidence and social skills, such as participating in team sports or clubs, practicing active listening, and engaging in acts of kindness. A nurturing environment where children feel safe and supported helps them thrive. Accepting bullying as a rite of passage is harmful and unjustified. Everyone deserves to feel valued and secure.

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.  Words have power and should not be used to inflict harm. Verbal abuse, threats, and hostile teasing are forms of bullying that can be psychologically damaging. Children should be taught that words matter and to use them to build others up rather than tear them down. If someone is being cruel with words, it's important to speak up and ask them to stop. No one should have to endure hurtful speech, whether in jest or in seriousness. Words can heal or wound, so we must teach children to choose them wisely.

Myth #5 – “That’s not bullying. They’re just teasing.”

Reality – Vicious taunting hurts and should be stopped.  Teasing becomes bullying when it is repeated over time, involves an imbalance of power, and is meant to cause distress. If someone feels afraid or upset, it counts as bullying. There is no such thing as “harmless teasing”. Dismissing cruel behavior as “just teasing” minimizes the pain of victims and enables abuse. It is never acceptable to make someone else feel degraded or afraid. Adults must listen to children and take their experiences of mistreatment seriously instead of brushing them off.

Myth #6 – “There have always been bullies and there always will be.”

Reality – As renowned childhood education expert Shelley Hymel notes, ending bullying will take a collaborative effort from all of us: parents, teachers, and students alike. Only by working together in unison can we transform attitudes and cultivate a brighter future for our children. Rather than viewing bullying as a mere disciplinary issue, we must see it as an opportunity to educate. When we stand united against bullying, we have the power to change culture. Our shared commitment to creating a safe, nurturing learning environment will enable students to thrive and flourish.

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.

Final Thought on Bullying

To wrap it up, raising a cautiously optimistic child is a balancing act that should be approached with,

  • Modelling respectful relationships at home and
  • Educating your child about the dynamics of bullying.

It’s important to remember that bullying is not something that can be solved overnight, but it does require a collective effort from parents, educators and peers. We must strive for creating an environment of inclusiveness where everyone feels safe and respected regardless of their race, gender identity or sexual orientation.

As a parent, you have the power to contribute towards this goal by instilling values of kindness and empathy into your child while also teaching them how to stand up against any form of injustice they encounter in life.

With these tools at hand, we can work together to create a better future for our children free from fear and hate.

Last Updated on
December 20, 2023
Austin Please

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Austin Please
I’m a gay dad, a happy husband, and recently my own boss. But it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, i’m still striving to grow a mustache to achieve ultimate dadness.
Austin Please
I’m a gay dad, a happy husband, and recently my own boss. But it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, i’m still striving to grow a mustache to achieve ultimate dadness.
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Galactic Gaylords
An unapologetically queer NFT project that is breaking free from the metaverse closet to prove that everyone deserves to be represented in this new digital landscape.
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