Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’ve been looking at your website and advice columns. I subscribe to your podcast and find it’s something useful I can do on the run.
I have two daughters in middle school. I received a text from another mother at their school, saying one of my daughters is bullying her girl.
I confronted my accused daughter. She admitted she’s been mean to the girl. She said she’s mad at how that girl is treating her sister. My daughters are close and protective.
My accused daughter said they’ve both been treated badly by this girl and her friends.
Was the girl just being cruel, or was she bullying my daughters?
My accused daughter seems to hide her hurt and pain by being mean back to the girl.
I’m at a loss on how she should handle the girl, because the girl was mean to her sister. I don’t want her striking back.
I want to be able to guide my daughters, but not take over for them. I don’t want the situation to get worse.
Advice would be welcome!
Statistically, students (especially middle schoolers) feel adults respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage believing adult help is infrequent and ineffective.
So, well done Mom! You’re seeking help and taking action!
Responding to another parent who accuses your child of bullying or being “mean” is a tricky thing. You don’t want to inflame the situation by having a heated discussion about who is the aggressor.
Bullying means there is an aggressive, imbalanced, demonstration of power. It also means it’s continually and consistently harmful. Bullying includes threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone and excluding someone from a group.
It sounds like your daughter or daughters were, indeed, bullied. Mean behavior is usually a one-time action with less serious ramifications.
“Bully revenge” is not a successful option because the bully-victim (one who was bullied and then becomes a bully to get back at her perpetrator) will never “win.”
Revenge never settles “scores.” It becomes, instead, a constant war of hateful words and actions.
• Avoid ignoring the situation or immediately trying to fix everything
• Speak with your spouse and then consult an objective adult, mediator, or professional
• Then speak with your kids as a family and separate facts and feelings – make a plan
• Take your plan to a trusted teacher or principal and incorporate their advice into your plan
It’s not about blaming and shaming someone; everyone is a stakeholder and everyone needs to make positive improvements.
This will encourage healthy relationships that include civility: consideration, care, and courtesy.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri