That sentence was extracted from my Proverbs 31 devotion today, yet as I read my own words, I can again feel the emotion bubble up in my throat as I think how hard it was to watch both of my daughters, in different stages of life, be bullied, rejected and hurt by so-called friends, frenemies, former friends, or even enemies. I’ve walked both of them through such heartache and have seen first hand how the power of another person’s hurtful words and behavior can sometimes hurt worse than anything else.
I’ve experienced how overwhelming it seems to feel helpless to fix the problem and powerless to change the other person’s behavior. But I’ve also seen how God really is in control, even when we can’t be.
For teenagers, either in middle school or high school, acceptance and confidence is key to survival. Unfortunately, sometimes it only takes one person who decides they don’t like someone to serve as a contagion of unacceptance as they coerce others to ostracize that person as well. Lies, gossip, and rejection can quickly lead to embarrassment, hurt and loneliness which will eventually lead to low self esteem and a feeling of total isolation and devastation.
Although most schools today have a no-tolerance bullying policy, it’s difficult to prove, much less handle bullying that doesn’t involve some type of physical abuse, and thus usually making it impossible to really make it stop. That’s why dealing with frenemies, mean girls, or mean boys, is especially trying for kids and their parents, because sometimes the worst wounds of all are the ones invisible to anyone but God. Wounds that only love and faith can heal.
If your child or teen is currently dealing with a frenemy, bully, or difficult peer situation, below are some tips to help you help them. I have learned that our jobs as moms is not only to help mend a situation, but to help mend our child’s heart as well – and there is no better way to do that than leaning on Jesus.
6 Tips for Facing Bullying with Faith:
1. Talk with your child/teen about what’s going on without any judgement or condemnation. If you’ve noticed a change in their behavior or emotional well being, let them know it’s safe to talk about what they are going through. Home should always be their safe place.
2. Try to keep your own emotions in tact, although the temptation to be angry and hostile will certainly be strong. We don’t have control over how other people act, but we can control how we react and and how we teach our children to react. When we control our emotions, only through the grace of God, our kids will learn to control theirs as well. When we fail, let’s give ourselves grace to try again.
3. Pray. Pray. And pray some more. Pray alone, pray as a family, and pray with your child. Share bible verses with them that speak to what they’re going through. Although they may not seem interested at first, remember God’s Word has a way of sinking deep into hurting hearts. A few verses to consider are:
Psalm 17:7 – Psalm 138:7 – Proverbs 16:7 – Matthew 5:44 – Romans 8:31 – Psalm 118:6 – Ephesians 6:16 – 2 Timothy 1:7 – Deuteronomy 31:6 – Psalm 18:3
4. Ask God for guidance about how to deal with the situation, and for the ability to trust Him with it. Ask Him for protection over your child and their spirit while you wait to see Him do His work – in the situation, in your child’s heart, and in your own.
5. Trust that God knows, sees, cares, and loves your child. As moms we want to fix the problem and fix the offender, but that’s simply not always possible. But with God all things are possible and only He can change someone’s heart.
6. Believe and embrace God’s truth in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Once you believe it, embrace it, and help your child learn to embrace it as well. God always has a purpose for pain and sometimes holding tightly to that promise helps one continue to be strong.
Have you ever managed bullying with faith and have a great word of advice for a mom in that situation? Do you need some encouragement today?
* *If your child is being bullied in any way and you feel it has reached a dangerous level – emotionally or physically – report it to the proper authorities immediately and take the appropriate action to protect your child and their well being in every way possible.