Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.




Monday, March 28, 2011

Praying for Your Child's Bully

" You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. "


              Matthew 5: 43-48







We will be known by our love for others.  A love that doesn't always make sense to this world for it's not of this world, but of God. God living inside us invokes our spirits to share with others and express to even those who wound us a love that is infinite, for it is a love that is infinite that resides deep within the center of our souls. The very essence of love, in the form of the Holy Spirit, resides deep within our soul's core and scripture compells to provoke it outward, so that we may shine like lamps, causing the darkness that surrounds us to be swallowed in its brilliance.

It's not easy seeing our children in pain, hurt and wounded by the words of others. As parents, we seek to protect our children from both physical, spiritual, and mental maladies. If only we could shelter them in the protection of a bubble, nothing ever touching their senses other than pleasure and our affections. But that's just not how life works. In fact, God calls us to go out into the world, to step past our comfort zones, and to do that we must be strong, have courage and be able to face afflictions wherever they may come.

There is no easy solution nor is it easy to pinpoint the causes of bullying. It is something that has always existed and a phenomenon that is on the rise.  Perhaps it's because of soaring divorce rates and broken homes. Perhaps it's because of the over exposure our children have of violence, whether in the form of movies, shows, video games or even violence in their homes and neighborhoods that they are forced to witness and process in their tiny minds.  I think the reasons differ with each child and have to be analyzed on a case by case basis. I do know one thing though, that love has a great way of working through situations that seem all but hopeless to human minds.

God doesn't expect us to be pummeled or to not stand up for ourselves, but He does give us the tools to react in such a radical way, with such a powerful love, that it can cause the ways of this world to stop in it's tracks and take notice. It even has the power to part the rising waters of anger and hate and send a peace that surpasses all understanding in their place.

Last year I remember picking up my daughter from school and feeling a heavy weight form in my heart as she broke down in tears. Her feelings had been hurt by the same boy again. This particular boy had been targeting her for awhile and much she had kept to herself but was now spilling forth as she bore her unrestrained feelings and experiences to me. I remember feeling saddened by her plight but also, as a mother, very relieved that she felt she could come to me with her struggles, thoughts and feelings. I think, when dealing with bullying, or any other troubles our children face, communication is essential. Our children need to know they can come to us and be listened to.

I remember feeling this overwhelming urge to pray. Not only for my child, to be able to go through these trials unafflicted, but also for this little boy. I don't believe children are born bullies. Perhaps in rare cases, but for the most part they are products of their environment. Perhaps this boy was bullied by older siblings, feeling neglected at home, watched his dad bully his mom, who knows. But acting out in such a way, to me, is a cry for help.

I talked about these things with my daughter...not in so much detail but I brought up the fact that many times children who are suffering take out their frustration on others. To make oneself feel better oftentimes people try to level other's self esteems so that their own can prevail.  So, I suggested that we pray over this situation together. God always wants us to come to Him in times of trial and when we do with open hearts He oftentimes provides us with a discernment and direction that we hadn't had before, opening the way to solving our problems.







I feel praying for both my child and her bully, with my child,  helped in numerous ways. It helped my daughter feel less of a victim, putting a perspective on the situation. It let her know that it was not her fault and that she was not the problem, the actions of this child were. That there was nothing wrong with her but there was everything wrong with the way this child was handling his own emotions and words.  It helped her become more calm and see hope through what she perceived as a dismal situation.  It helped her feel empowered, as she was doing something about this unpleasant reality that had been plaguing her at school...she was coming before God and lifting her persecutor up in prayer.  We prayed for peace over him and his family and that they would feel the healing love of God in their hearts, opening them all up to greater levels of compassion. It was a practical application of what it means to love as a Christian. We aren't called to love just those who love us back, but all people, even those who fling insults our way.

What happened to my child and her bully? Fortunately, the situation dissolved. I'm not sure how, or why, but by the grace of God this child moved on from my daughter and hopefully to no other victim. My daughter was released from the grip of anxiety and fear that the situation had on her. Glory be to God! Bullying doesn't always go away like that though and many times children who are bullied end up responding in tragic ways to the traumatic aggression they've had to endure from others. We all have seen examples of this, most notably the horrific shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado just a few years ago.

 Has your child ever been bullied? How did you handle the situation? Did you ever turn to prayer...why or why not? Has your child ever been the bully? How did you help him/her to deal with his emotions in a less harmful way? Thoughts are appreciated!

30 comments:

  1. Neither of my children have ever been the bully. My son has always been the child in school that has taken up for the 'underdog', whether it be a new child in the school, or just one that is being picked on by others. Now, my son is a big boy and well respected, so usually once he attaches to someone that others don't care for, others end up being friends with the 'underdog' themselves and everything works out.
    My daughter on the other hand, hasn't been bullied because she has been known to lay a boy out for being mean to her. But, she has been the target of ridicule and constant fun-making. We do pray for those other children. I have always tried to teach her to rise above that type of ignorance, or lack of self-confidence, whichever the case, and set an example for them to follow.
    Neither of my children have any problems right now, but then again, school is not finished for either of them yet and school is where trouble seems to begin these days:(

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  2. Thanks Jessica, I was bullied at school, though not a Christian at the time. Once I became a Christian one of the initial struggles was forgiving them. After a lot of prayer I did just that! Thanks for the post, Mike

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  3. Oh Jessica!You always manage to move me with your innate humility and genuine faith. What a wonderful lesson you taught your little girl on getting a different perspective. And in teaching her you're teaching us all.

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  4. Hi Jessica, I guess when I saw the photo I first felt anger and then sadness. Children can be so cruel. Then when I read how you´ve handled the situation with the cruel boy, I cried. You have taught me something today and I feel very humble. Isn´t that the best way to solve all problems? Well done on another excellent post.

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  5. Mary,

    Thank you so much for sharing. I think it's great that your son stands up for those being bullied. It's my hope that my children will have the courage and find their voice in times that they witness others being picked on or abused. Even if it's running and telling a teacher, I hope more and more children will do something rather than be part of the collective and take on a bystander mentality. Kudos to your son...and you and your husband for excellent parenting!

    It must be painful to have your daughter go through what she has gone through, I'm glad it doesn't seem to be currently happening. It's so tough when we see our kids go through these kinds of things, but it looks like you really help encourage and support her when she does have to endure bullying from peers.
    Thanks for your honesty. ~blessings

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  6. Mike,

    You bring up a good point, and maybe another post topic for the future..forgiving bullies! Luckily when I grew up, though I was taunted occasionally, I never really had much trouble with bullies, but I did witness kids that had and I used to feel great sympathy for them. I'd step up and say things but oftentimes the assualts, verbally and even physically , would happen anyways. It's sad how cruel kids can be...bless you for being able to forgive those who bullied you...I'm glad you were able to do that, I hope it brought much healing and peace.
    Thank you for sharing :)

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  7. Corrinne, thank you so much for your kind words :) ~many blessings

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  8. Nelieta...thank you :)..You are so sweet...I can understand your initial response...I get really angry when I hear about kids being cruel to others. Thanks for your honesty about your reactions and your thoughts after reading this post. I'm really touched by your words. :)
    ~many blessings

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  9. Bullies have it rough. They're more screwed up than most of the kids they pick on, many of them having been picked on by parents before they ever get into school, then they're picked on again by people for being bullies. At the end of the day no one loves them. It's no wonder many bullies deal with drug abuse, depression, and grow up to be generally defunct human beings. Then of course the cycle of violence expands and on and on it goes.

    One of the best ways to disarm a bully is with kindness. Chances are you'll be the only person in the world who's been nice to him, and he'll love you for it.

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  10. only "free" people could gift other people with "freedom":)...and that is what i found in you jessica...

    i've been bullied as a kid and it has affected the way i behaved towards others...i was a fearful and insecure child... and somehow i learned that the more we show our weaknesses to others, the more we give them strength to "bully" us...

    a child "learns" to react by what he/she sees from his/her primary caregiver and i'm glad that you've taught you're child to be pro-active... prayer is powerful and i truly believe that it can move people depending on the weight of love we put into it and the person we pray for...

    your story has touched me deeply... and i am very grateful as i start my day with these reflections ;)...

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  11. A beautiful lesson indeed not only for the young but for us adults as well. Thank you for showing us the way.

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  12. Bullying is very serious, but schools seem to take it as a joke. I've worked in public schools so i know. This world is in a lot of trouble right now. We need to be constantly in prayer for everyone in it. As many do not even think of these kinds of topics. Time and again, I notice that it is only the believers who even think of taking things like this seriously.

    Thank you for doing this. You've inspired me to share a post on this subject.

    may your pen continue to be blessed.

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  13. A great lesson in forgiveness and understanding, selfless and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. God bless you always,thank you for sharing this with us.

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  15. Such a good post ~ bullying is a sad fact of life it seems in these troubled times, and you are right that it stems from broken homes, insecurity, lack of love etc. I do find it hard as a christian to go against the flow as it were, and pray for the aggressor, however it's important to recognise that hate breeds hate and only love can break the cycle. An answer to prayer concerning your daughter, praise the Lord! x

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  16. First of all, I want to say I appreciate the title & theme of your blog. How wonderful we can be in fellowship with such an awesome God, mainly because He has humbled himself so. I also admire the poetic words & imagery you use to make the reading enjoyable.
    I was bullied from time to time growing up, and certainly didn't have the wherewithal to know how to respond (and we were told it wasn't "cool" to ask parents for help). Also, not knowing God like I do now, I didn't have that deep well of wisdom & love to turn to. Thankfully, with God's love, and my realization of my faults, I've learned to humble myself & view others with greater respect.

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  17. Thanks Jessica, what a great example and message. I think our world is improving, many people are realizing that the bully needs help, not punishment. Prayer is a great beginning for the help that is needed.

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  18. When I was in my elementary days, I used to cry a lot because my classmates were bullying me. I was shy and quiet, I don't even talk to anyone. And since I'm like that, they were starting to bully me. My mom always tell me not to mind them and pray. She always go to our school and talk to my teacher because there came a time that I don't want to go to school anymore. All my teachers were great. They did a lot of things just to stop them bullying me but I realized, I should change. When I started high school, nobody is bullying me. I became talkative, friendly, sociable and all. =)

    http://fayerydust.blogspot.com/2011/06/angel-in-disguise.html

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  19. I think we all need to keep being reminded that this does happen in our schools, homes and at playgrounds. We need to share our feelings with our children about this. The blessing is that they share with us as parents.

    Thank you for this....

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  20. A young man was brought to my gym a few years ago. He was picked on at school due to his weight problem. From many it was verbal abuse, from another he was terrorised. 12 months later his mum asked to meet me. She thanked me for helping him lose 3 stone in weight, and for helping him create a far better shape. He was no longer bullied in any way.

    But then she said, but yesterday an incident happened at school, The bully had been picking on another younger chikld, and her son stepped in. When the bully wouldn't stop, the young man, my member, alas dropped him with one punch to the chin.

    When he got home, he explained to her that he wasn't going to let another child suffer the way he did, and Larry at the Gym had taught me to stand up for myself, believe in myself, and had taught me to punch properly.

    I sat there in shame, and she then said Larry thank you on behalf of my son, and other kids that won't suffer from this boy any longer.

    NOT the way maybe to deal with it, i don't tell you this as a suggested method, its just a story of fact.

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  21. Moving around as much as I did growing up (just about every three years) I didn't stay in one place long enough to be bullied. Although as you can imagine always being the "new" kid played into the hands of some the kids.

    I was always fortunate to find friends very quickly learning to be assertive is one of the blessings I took away from always being the new kid. If I wanted to have any social life it was up to me to reach out.

    Anyway, the friends I made early on typically took me under their wing and showed me around. If anyone tried to bully me, my friends were never far away. Somehow someway, they showed up at just the right time. Countless times I can recall being pushed around when one of my friends would step in. In Branford, it was Tim Waite. In Madison when I moved here in '78 in the 8th grade it was Tony C. Always had someone looking out for me. Just another blessing in the many blessings of my childhood. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Jessica.

    Be Happy! Be Well! Be Positive!
    Blessings to you.
    --
    Chris

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  22. Jessica,
    This is a beautiful post....
    I'm a glad your little angel is out of harms way and the bully child has moved away... BUT the problem still exists the child is still a bully and is probably still hurting other children... So the matter was never really addressed...
    The only way to stop a bully from being a bully is to confront the child in a loving way and get down to the heart of the matter...
    Blessings
    Jessica

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  23. jessica,
    i have done the prayer method many times. i like to pray for a change of heart for the child who is bullying others. seems to help. i've had a few kids that my children would want to pray about. after a couple of months of weekly prayers the bully stopped being mean to others and was more friendly.
    definably worth a try at least :-)

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  24. I have twin girls who are being bullied by a group of boys at school. They have just been taking it for months and finally they told the teachers when the group ended up chanting, "no one likes a tattle tale" on the play ground. Their little spirits are crushed right now and they don't want to go to school or hang out with their friends. This is such a beautiful post and an inspiration to me and I am going to share parts of it with them. They are very tenacious and self confident little girls but this has shaken them to the core. I need to do everything possible to build them back up and keep their spirits lifted. I love the idea of praying for their bully. Thank you sister in Christ for sharing. All things work together for good...

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