As a parent, one of your worst fears is your child being bullied. It whips up all kinds of feelings, the main one being that of Mama and Papa Bear. I wish I could have chosen a lion or lioness, but to be honest, that was far too much of a majestic creature, to sum up how I was feeling internally. Nope, this was just plain old animalistic emotions, and if I am being honest, probably not much better than the bullies themselves.
So, after deep breathing and counting to ten (and then to twenty), I sat down to think on the situation at hand. My daughter at this time was only about 6 or 7 years old, and I started to wonder what makes another child of that age start to bully? So I thought, right, let’s get a strategy in place. We knew because of other parents that going to address the situation with the parents wasn’t going to be the right move, so we went to the school. The school suggested a change of tables in class, a change of study group, mediation, a loss of activity time, but in our experience, nothing worked – it just got worse. My daughter’s friendship group was infiltrated and this one person was intent on disturbing the peace all the time.
High school beckoned, so we voiced our concerns and were listened to. Our daughter was placed in a class free from the bully. Then, unfortunately, the second year hit and it all started again. As the children were graded into classes of equal achievement it all became very real again. But this time things got progressively worse. The names got worse, the physical bullying started, and cyber bullying too. We did everything within our power at home and were constantly on the phone to school. We were tired of the emotional impact of it all. I could go into how much pain and torment was caused, I could talk about how much disruption to family life the bullying caused for our whole family, I could keep bringing back to remembrance how much of a failure myself and my husband felt as we couldn’t protect our precious child, that school was a double-edged sword of legally having to send her, but knowing that it wasn’t the best or safest place, and how our lives had become a cycle of being hurt, fighting fleshy feelings and reactions, feeling helpless and weak, then forgiving and start again.
But there is no point – nothing was going to change until we changed it.
This wasn’t just one person being bullied, but systematic, targeted bullying of several children, carefully planned out for maximum effect. ‘Segregate and conquer’ was the plan, and unfortunately, it was executed brilliantly. Being a faith-filled family we chose, and will always choose, prayer and forgiveness. It’s a choice, choose to hold on to all the hurt and pain or let it go? Seems daft not to forgive when it’s put like that doesn’t it? Oh, and as a side note, forgiveness is not forgetting about it and it most certainly does not make it okay! I digress. So, like I said, we would spend time on an evening talking about the bullying and the bully. We switched our thinking to how awful it must be for the bully to feel that being horrible to another person was okay. Our hearts were heavy, not just because our child was having a horrific time, but also because there was another child in a much worse position. That child was in a place where it felt good to hurt others. What kind of internal turmoil, lack of identity and self-worth, and lack of self-esteem must a person have to want to be so horrid?
We did what we knew to do, tried to understand the situation from different perspectives. Before we forgave, we prayed a blessing over the bully and we chose to find good things to say and think about them. I felt like I was failing to protect this precious bundle, I felt like sending her to school was like sending her into a pack of wolves. We felt that we knew what we should be doing, but it always felt very outwardly focused, that we were responding to the bully, but not counteracting them. It was as if we were being held on the end of a rope of torment, just awaiting the next assault.
One evening I was sitting thinking and chatting to God about it all, and it dawned on me – what I needed to do was to create a forcefield around her, a forcefield of truth. Our voice needed to be louder than the lies spouted by the bully. A circle of love! For once I felt light shone into this dark part of our lives! Finally, I could do something positive and proactive. I remembered a close friend had done a sort of care package for someone, a box of goodies and affirming notes to help in that situation. Yes, a box was what I was going to do, but not just a box of what we thought but a box of what others thought. So I set out and asked a few people from all areas of my daughter’s life to write a card to place in the box. I asked family, friends, people who came into contact with her regularly at church, or at salons etc. Some wrote a card, and others bought small gifts, too. One lady gave her a note pad with hand written scriptures she felt where for her in this season. I added little trinkets, a journal and small wall signs for her room. Then we presented it to her one evening. I said, “As your parents, you might think that the things we say to you are because we have to say them, but we don’t have to, we choose to speak life over you, we choose to encourage you, but because it’s truth others see things in you too, and some of those people have added something into here to just let you know how amazing you are.”
For the first time in a while, her countenance totally changed. She was in disbelief that others would have taken the time to add to her world. She took everything out of that box and read the cards and notes, re-read them and examined the contents of that box like it were feeding her ability to no longer be a victim but an overcomer! I said to her, “As a group of people around you, it is our job to make the voice of what’s true ring out, overwhelm and drown out the lies that are being spoken out towards you! And every time you feel like the lies of one are getting a bit too loud, you get that box opened and read the truth spoken over you by many.” What was interesting was that many of the messages read very similar, and she was able to discern her own personal truth and revelation. Because so many unlinked people had said very similar things, it had to be the truth.
What’s important to note is that the situation never changed, but we changed towards the situation. Do we still forgive, pray a blessing and for a revelation so that the bully realises the error of their ways or asks for help? Yes! Yes, we do, because that’s the right thing to do, but we also create a circle of love around our child so that the truth is always known to them. We chose to talk about options too, move mini schools, stay at the school or leave the school. The decision was made, not by us, but by our child to move schools. Some said to move schools would be running away, but I quietly said, oh no, we simply gave her some options and she chose the best one for herself. You see, we gave her back her choice and in turn gave back her control of her school life and education. The bully controlled everything, and even made others bully her, so rather than the rest of her school life being a back and forth war that was being instigated by another, she chose to recognise that not all battles need fighting by me, and especially not the ones I never wanted to be a part of in the first place!
I don’t really think we can say there were any winners in this situation, but what I can say is that we have learnt a whole lot! We have grown as people in many different areas. My lasting impression I want to leave with you out of this whole situation is, make sure the right voices are being heard the loudest! Make sure the truth is not just being spoken but understood and taken on board.
Love & Blessings
Wife, Mother, Blogger, Legend
Lindsay Bailey is a phenomenal woman and friend of Strength Restored, She describes her family as ‘blended” which we think is a wonderful way to look at things. A mother to eight – yes, that’s right, eight, children, Lindsay and her family have had to face many challenges in life, including overcoming disability, domestic violence and self-destruction.
You can visit Lindsay’s website www.lindsaybailey.co.uk