Mother’s Day and now Father’s Day are behind us. Not to play down those roles, but being a mother or father is biological thing and says nothing about our ability to actually raise healthy, well-adjusted children into adult hood. A holiday that is equally or more worthy of being celebrated is Parents’ Day. If you’re a parent and you think it’s easy, in the words of Ludacris, “You’re just not doing it right.”
I don’t care what your title is, how much money you make, or how many employees you’re responsible for, parenting children is the most important job you’ll ever have. It’s evidenced in all kind of ways, particularly in this new study citing the repercussions of sibling violence within families.
Let’s be clear, the kind of bullying the study is referring to goes beyond breaking up an occasional tussle between two brothers, or an occasional insult hurled toward an older sister. We’re talking chronic physical and verbal abuse, which, according to the study involving thousands of children and adolescents, is linked to increased levels of depression, anger and anxiety.
Parents also play a role too, according to clinical psychologist and author of “Sibling Abuse Trauma,” John V. Caffaro. He says they add to these situations by either failing to intervene or by labeling their kids, “the smart one,” or the “athletic one.”
In some families I’ve heard parents contributing to other kinds of name calling like “stupid,” or “ugly” or making negative references to a child’s skin color. The examples they are setting for their children are horrible. It doesn’t take an expert to recognize that children that bully their schoolmates are probably coming from a similar situation at home.
We recently received this story via our Text Tom Club:
I am the baby of three girls. My oldest sister always bullied me. For most of my younger days I had my middle sister as my protector until she died in 1992. From then until 2002, she had her way of intimidating me until I met my husband. He told me to stand up to her, which I have been doing for the past 6 months.
As a mom, a former schoolteacher and the product of two loving parents I’ve outlined a few ways to prevent bullying in the home.
Watch your own words
Take the words like ugly, stupid, fat, and hate out of your vocabulary and don’t allow your kids to use them either.
Show respect to your spouse or mate
Children learn what they live. An example goes much further than a speech.
Don’t be a bully in your own home
When you lash out at your kids because you had a bad day at work, an argument with your spouse or are recovering from an alcohol or drug induced hangover, you’re punishing them for some thing that is no fault of theirs. What do you think they will do with that pent-up resentment they have for you? Younger siblings might take the brunt.
There all kinds of ways that your child could be torturing a sibling besides physically or verbally abusing her, anything from drawing pictures to writing nasty things via text, Twitter or Facebook.
Let them know they’re accountable for anything hurtful that they say, do or post.
Good parents make their children believe their eyes and ears are on them at all times. That isn’t possible but at least making the effort goes a long way. At the very least, we should be their number one supporters and their advocates in areas where they need us to step in.
We can’t do it unless we’re sober and vigilant. And if we are, we can help others too.
If you know of bullying going on toward your child or someone else’s, instead of seeking punishment for that child, take the time to get to know him or her if you can. The odds are they’re crying out for some positive self-esteem boosters they aren’t getting at home.
If we do this, we’re doing something that can go a long way.