6 Tips For Facing Bullying With Faith

200181253-001“Nothing hurts a mom’s heart more than when her child’s heart is broken or her spirit is crushed.”

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?

Leave a comment and let’s start a dialogue of support for this important topic. Your comment will enter you to win one of two copies of Glynnis Whitwer’s book When Your Child Is Hurting.

* *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. 

 

 

Tracie

Comments

  1. Terri says

    I’m so glad to read this today and for your encouragement to pray. You put into words all of the concerns I’ve had for my child, who is 28 and has been rejected and is being treated like he doesn’t exist by his grandpa and uncle. I’ve been so hurt watching his attempts at normal conversation be dismissed and ignored by them in front of others. Your blog reminds me to keep in prayer for him and them. In the natural it seems impossible to me that they would change their behavior, but I believe that with God it’s possible.

    Thank you.

  2. Jean says

    Pray first, so easy to forget! Thanks for this insightful piece.

    Workplace bullies are a growing problem, too. Reporting to higher-ups generally backfires in this situation and the “whistleblower” is hurt the most. Currently riding it out.

    Terri, I’ve experienced the family situation as well. Sorry to hear what you’re walking through!

  3. Beth E says

    My heart breaks for you all. I was bullied during middle school but severely bullied through 2 and a half years of high school. I know first hand how hard this is and how devastating it can be to self esteem and confidence. I begged my mother to let me quit and be home schooled, however, my father had passed away when I was younger and mom had to work to support her three children. Just as you mentioned it was one particular girl who transferred in and decided she just didn’t like me. I attended a very small high school – 44 total in our graduating class – so I either had friends or enemies that spread horrible lies and gossip about me. I had to be escorted to my car at night from my job. They followed me around town and terrorized me. I still remember the pain and emotional scars. We also contacted authorities – and it actually made the situation worse. I cried every day. Unfortunately it took me losing my cool and unloading on this girl and being willing to fight if it came to that to get her off my back. She left me alone after that, but to be truthful my mom said I have never been the same since, that period of time in my life forever changed me, my attitude and my tolerance level. I have struggled since with having a short fuse and losing my temper.

    • tmiles says

      Beth – I’m so sorry for what you went through. Kids just don’t realize the life long impact they can have on the hearts and lives of others. You certainly have justifiable reasons for being guarded and even having anger issues, but I pray that God continues to work on your heart and fill you with love, peace and joy especially in the face of difficult situations. We all have areas to improve on, despite the issues that lie underneath, but God is bigger than our flaws, and fortunately loves us anyway. :)

    • Angie says

      Beth,
      I went through some of the same things in high school. My sister caused a very serious scandal in our small farming community school. What helped me the most was finding a Christian counselor. He has helped me work through so much, anger from years and years ago, and even situations now.

  4. Deb says

    We had a neighborhood bully who delighted in tormenting me on the way to or from school. Told my Dad what was happening and he thought for a minute (maybe he was praying?) then said “Buddy, next time he starts, smile, sing, & keep walking.” Seriously? Surely Pa was kidding but… next time it started, I followed his instructions. The second time, I think the bully thought I was nuts & walked away with a strange look on his face – it never happened again. Not sure it would work in every situation, but it got my mind on Jesus & off the bully.

  5. Gussie says

    thank you for sharing this message today. A few years ago, our son was the subject of bullying in a small school and remained silent about it until it came to a head when he ended up in a fight after being provoked. He sank into depression earlier in the school year and we sent him to counseling for help. It affected his grades (severely), his relationships to us and his friends, his physical well-being, and his emotional state. We realized the perpetrators picked him because they knew they could push harder and longer without him coming back at them. We also realized that the bullies had a low self-esteem and picked on him to lift themselves up (along with an unsettled home life). We reminded our son of these things and did what we could to build him up and support him, but it does make a lasting impact on someone who undergoes bullying. I was recovering from major surgery at the time and blamed myself for not noticing a change in my child. We had him tested when his grades didn’t improve this year and found that he has anxiety disorder, which had affected his performance on tests. I agree that it is important to pay attemtion to changes in your child’s behavior and constantly pray for them and God’s protection over them. I hope this imformation helps someone else who may be going through a similar situation with their child.

  6. Terri says

    This situation unfortunately is not limited to our children. Bullies grow up and take their evil behaviors to work, family life, etc. I am experiencing a bullying situation at my office that is similar to the one you described. It has caused much stress in my life. I have tried to handle in a God honoring way but I know I have failed many times. I am praying for God to intervene on my behalf with a good outcome. Thanks for this article today.

    • tmiles says

      Terri – you are so right. I too have experienced forms of bullying as an adult and in the workplace and its just as hard as when we’re kids, and apparently many other women feel the same way. Thank you for sharing your comment and I’l pray for things to improve for you.

    • says

      Good morning Ladies,
      Everyone here is so right…and it saddens me so much to see this kind of mean behavior going on whether in school or later in life at work…or as an adult with your own girlfriends. I just don’t understand why. It happened to me but as an adult last year with a former girlfriend. I prayed so much about that and realized I hadn’t done anything wrong, said anything wrong…that she had issues and felt the need to be a bully toward me. It’s hard to fully and actively trust these things with God when you are in pain, wondering why in the world?, and being angry at times. Be blessed…you are wonderful and loved. I will keep you in my prayers too. Thanks, Tracie for your column and words of hope for us that go through odd situations like this that just don’t make sense…

  7. Michele says

    These blogs and devotions are so helpful, thanks! It’s always a good reminder from the Lord that we are NOT alone in what we walk through in life! We can find comfort knowing God sees and provides others who have been through similar situations to encourage us to persevere. Thank you to those who shared your bullying circumstance and I hurt for you! :(
    My daughter, now 15, started dealing with bullying in 3rd grade on the playground. These girl bullies are sneaky and fool the teachers and their parents. By 6th grade the one real friend she had left her for other friends in middle school. She tried to start new friendships but noone would let her “in” to their groups. (Cheerleaders- need I say more?)
    The past 3 years have been heartwrenching to walk through as a mom, watching my daughter spiral downward into depression and low self-worth, despite my prayers and pleas to the other moms along with encouraging her to “hang in there” and “God has a plan”. Just this past January my beautiful little girl was suicidal and I had to place her in an out patient facility for a month. She has been in counseling & on meds for over a year, and still tries to spend time with anyone who is willing. She knows Jesus and I am grateful for that- however lonliness can get the best of you at times when you desire “girlfriend” time. Please pray for my daughter – that she will see the path God has for her and head straight for it and find His peace. The tears still flow down my cheek as I try and type this and can hardly see the keyboard. Thank you Tracie for your ministry!!
    I printed out the tips and Best Approach with a Frenemy for her to read and me to implement. God Bless!

    • Gussie says

      Michelle, my heart goes out to you for I have shed many tears over my son as you have described in your post. My son getting his license and finding a part-time job has helped tremendously. I sincerely believe that God has a plan for our children I will be praying for your daughter and also for you as you seek guidance, true friendships, and protection for her

    • tmiles says

      Michele – I wish I could give your daughter a hug and I will definitely pray for her. It’s so hard to help kids understand that life is just hard, and sometimes people are even harder, but that these things pass eventually – although they can leave heart scars of course. I pray that God does a miracle in your daughter’s heart and helps her shed the darkness and isolation she feels and be able to find joy and happiness in Him and the good things in life, like you and her family. I pray that God will divinely intersect her life with the lives of other girls who can be great friends to her and make her feel loved and accepted. And I pray for peace and purpose in her life and for her to begin seeing how God has gifted her in many ways and has a great future for her. Thank you for sharing your heart today!

  8. Debbie says

    I agree with Jean workplace bullies are a growing problem. I experienced it for several years. When I tried to discuss it with my boss he denied it. If I pushed the issue I would have been fired. So I had to just accept it because I was going to college and needed a job. I lost all my friends, and family members to the lies. I do not work for that employer any longer but I still suffer from daily harassment and bullying. The people behind the lies are afraid the truth will come out.
    Tracie thank you for posting this information about bullying.
    Proverbs 3; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

  9. Peggy Clement says

    I have twins and a few years back one was bullied so much that we had to seek conceling, she is better now and has many friends. Now it seems they have change rolls, my other twin seems to be down a lot and when I try to talk to her she says she ok. She not as loud and outgoing as her sister. Pray this devotion helps.

  10. Melody says

    God is really always working ,I just happened across your website an this story is what popped up ! My daughter just came to me yesterday in tears cause she over heard a girl making fun of her! Then her best friend is upset with her an told her she was done being her friend! She just was a mess an crying so much ,it broke my heart ! She is 13 an has been made fun of a good bit this year.7th grade has been the hardest for her,she was telling me the girls don’t think she’s pretty,that they gave everybody numbers with 10 being the best she said they gave me a 6 an cried. I know God lead me here!! Thank you for listening !! Melody

    • tmiles says

      Love when God’s timing is perfect and He sends just the right words. Bless your daughter’s heart for going through that – what an awful feeling to think you’ve been labeled and that you don’t measure up. I’ll be praying for her and that God will bring wonderful ,trustworthy and kind friends in the next school year, and that she can realize she is always a 10 in Gods eyes!

  11. Aimee says

    I was so thankful when my sister shared this message with me via Proverbs 31 this morning. Our family is weathering a heart breaking storm right now. My mother in law is an unhappy person and she is being downright mean to my husband. I cannot understand how a mother could treat her own child, her only son the way she is treating him. It is so painful and upsetting to my husband and me. I’ll be honest – I want to punch her out but I know that’s no way to behave. I was bullied as kid so I know bullying when I see it. I also grew up in a slightly rough school which is why that old “punch her out” impulse creeps back in my mind. I understand that hurting people hurt people and I know that my mother in law is unhappy. My struggle is with how to protect my family (we have a 17 month old son, who she’s seen maybe three times in total) from her toxic behavior.

  12. says

    My daughter has been the target of frenemies and bullying numerous times; usually from “christian” kids. There is even a church in the area where lies were spread about her by someone who decided to no longer be her friend, and now my daughter doesn’t dare show her face at that church. In our own church there have been similar situations. Recently, as a young adult, she has taken to confronting the person telling the lies and asserting that they should be truthful. She has challenged those who have believed the lies to get to know her for themselves. This has been a very painful part of life for her, and she has nearly left the church (an evangelical/born-again type church) because of the meanness of the kids. Your article is right that things are hard to prove, so the adults never get involved due to the lack of evidence to investigate. Church parents need to be aware of cattiness in their kids, and teach them to assert themselves gently, but firmly to stand their ground.

  13. Melinda says

    This devotional spoke directly to me and my daughter who is 11. This 6th grade year has been a very difficult one due to a frenemy. She developed alopecia (bald spots) due to so much worry and stress. Thank you for your words of encouragement. We know God has a plan and we will continue to pray as we move through these turbulent tween/teen years!

    • tmiles says

      Oh goodness Melinda that breaks my heart. Middle school is so tough. I pray your daughter makes some wonderful friends next year and that she can put all of that behind her.

  14. Mary T says

    Tracie, your post touched my heart! As a bullied child many years ago, if no one hit you, then you were to get over it…never seemed right then or now. Your strategies are God-focused and I will be sharing your devotion and this post. As the board chair of VOWS, Volunteers of Warwick Schools, a nonprofit that coordinates volunteers throughout our school district, we run an anti-bullying program, Heads Up. Heads Up is a national program and we provide this 4 month program to every second grade classroom in our district in all 16 elementary schools. We include high school volunteers and this long standing program is making a difference…how do we know? The students tell us so. They feel empowered to stand up to bullies and stick up for victims. They feel heard when they tell a teacher what is happening….I would be very excited to read and share Glynnis’ book!

  15. Paula Collins says

    A very dear friend of mine has a son who was being bullied in middle school. So much so, he no longer wanted to play on the travel soccer team since that is where his bully reigned. My friend took this to the coach and principal, but proposed a different solution than throwing the boy off the team. She suggested that the bully be spoken to in love and forgiveness by both the coach and the principal and then to have a sit down with the bully, his parents, her son and family. They calmly discussed the situation. She asked if it would be OK if she began with prayer and to her surprise the bully’s parents agreed. It actually solved the situation and the boys became friends. Sometimes we need to show love to the aggressor. I am not saying this will work in all situations, I know because of my bully in middle school. But with God all things are possible. Glynnis’ book sounds amazing and I would love to read it.

  16. stephanie says

    This bully came in the form of a high school coach this year. It was one of the worst situations ever as a parent to go through. In the end, God allowed us the courage to take very bold steps of faith and make great changes we never would have had the boldness to do. Although the process of coming out the “victor” was awesome, the road of getting there was most painful and depressing to put it lightly.

  17. Stephanie says

    God’s timing is so sweet. It is so hard to watch this happen to your daughter. A long time friend is being very mean to my daughter and talking behind her back with all their mutual friends. This is in the church and with a girl whose family we welcomed into our circle when they were new, reached out to her again when she was going through a rough time a couple of years ago. It is so hard to deal with the emotions of it. We are praying her through but it is really hurtful and since we know the parents and our boys are good friends it makes it really hard.

  18. Angie says

    Yes but what do you do when it’s you with the problem and the frenemy is also a grown woman who is in a leadership position at church? She has made it obvious to others that even though we have almost all the same friends that she doesn’t invite me to anything she hosts because of my size. She actually said those words. “It’s hard to find anywhere for her to sit.” I weigh 192, not 392. But all of her friends and herself are size 0s or 2s. How do I deal with that? Watching birthday party after birthday party go by with my 6 yo daughter receiving no invitation and her asking why can’t I go to Julie’s party? How do I answer that.

  19. Rebecca Clay says

    Thanks for taking the time to share your devotion. I have been hit from all directions lately and have truly felt like giving up or running away. I will intentionally choose joy today. I am so looking forward to your daily devotions!

  20. Dawn says

    It is amazing the power of a word. Thank you for your devotional. For years I have prayed for a child. God blessed me with a daughter. When I was carrying her they told me she would have down syndrome and short legs. My entire pregnancy I prayed for her in so many ways. She was born perfect. She is a beautiful 15 year old girl now. Now it is my prayer that she sees herself through God’s eyes. She has low self esteem, anger , depression. She tried to take her life and she has been cutting herself for two years. I saw a post on line to her that told her she is worthless and she should kill herself. I am so disgusted with social media and bullies. She attended a christian school her entire life and is totally rejecting God. She feels like most Christians are fake. I pray that her eyes are opened to see the wonderful plans God has in store for her. It is so difficult to be in a storm when your heart is consumed. Thank you for your prayers.

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