The news is full of stories of moms intimidating their child's classmates, sending threatening or belittling messages to parents of teammates and spreading vicious and hurtful gossip via social networking. These moms are easily recognizable at sporting and community events, PTA meetings and even in school parking lots.
But take a closer look and you'll find that some moms who bully are really just overgrown kids who never grew away out of being childhood bullies . And a few others are women who never escaped their role as the victim of a bully. Unfortunately, these women often end up becoming the ultimate, Bully Mom. Blinded by their need to be respected, understood and "in charge", these moms have taken their fighting skills from the playground to the school and community levels.
Moms who grew up as bullies, and who never developed social skills to deviate from this path, feel validated spreading their toxic behaviors as a normal way of "defending" themselves and their kids. Moms who grew up as the victim of a bully are even more vigilant in their need to provide protection from anyone who might "appear" to be a threat. It is sad indeed that neither woman ever received the help she needed as a child to alter her bullying behaviors or to develop her voice against a bully. As a result Bully Moms are emerging all over town.
What do you do when faced with a Bully Mom?
- Stop. Do not jump in and immediately engage in the same behaviors you see this bully demonstrating. Stay calm and focused. Do not play into her hysteria or outburst.
- Look at where you are and make certain that you & your child are safe. If you are not, leave and defer any interaction until another time.
- Take some important time to gather information. What is actually happening? Who is involved? Why does it appear to be happening? Why are you and/or your child a target?
- Consider what it is that you really want and need to happen? Do you want her bullying to just stop, have her kid dropped from the team, require legal or protective assistance?
- Get some help. Whether you seek assistance from a school principal, the team coach or the police, you need to have some additional support. Talk the situation through calmly with your support team.
- Set up a meeting with Bully Mom and tell her that you consider her actions to be bullying and why. Inform her that you have sought assistance from your coach, teacher, principal, pastor or another parent.
- Make a decision as to how you want to progress, especially if she is incapable of responding in a way that you find acceptable.
Remember that true bullies have never developed the social skills necessary to work through conflicts or concerns in a non- threatening way; so you may never get her to behave as you wish. She has learned that getting in your face, yelling or acting in an intimidating fashion works for her. A calmer, more reasonable form of communication is something that she can still learn, but it may require more time and you are probably not the one to act as her teacher.
Unfortunately, bully victims often strike out in equally negative ways. Having previously experienced pain and denigration as a child, they are determined to not allow their child to be victimized. However, these moms can usually be helped. Take the time to get to know them, play fair, share information and work with them. They are often operating out of fear and panic has blinded them.
The growing number of Bully moms highlights the fact that we all need to work harder to stop childhood bullying. For both the bully and the victim there is a way out! Pick up a copy of The Bully Maze Finding A Way Out or stop by www.project-parenting.com by Meriam F. Wilhelm