Parenting beats the instinct to run

As we all know, parenting can be difficult sometimes.  My daughter’s been having trouble with some girls in her class and, in particular, this one girl who tells her “I’m your enemy” on a daily basis.  This girl is really a piece of work. She seems to be a master manipulator and really enjoys playing head games.

Unfortunately, although my daughter is bigger and stronger than she is, she has not beat her to a pulp. I’m not condoning violence as a means to solve problems so don’t flame me. It’s just that if we were dealing with boys here, that’s probably what would have happened and the problem would be resolved.  That’s what I remember growing up, anyway. Perhaps, it’s just that feeling parents get sometimes when someone hurts your child. Don’t you just feel like beating the crap out of the one who did it?

Well, back to the reality of dealing with a bully, my daughter’s response up to this point has been to shut down and go away.  Basically, she’s run.  It’s the fight or flight response at work.  We know it well as my wife and I remember  experiencing when we were young.  My wife says that it dominated her relationships when she was younger- usually running instead of standing up for herself.  I wonder if this response is stronger in some of us? Is it more of a struggle for some? Is it built into our genes forever or is it something we are evolving out of? Hmm…that’s another blog entry.

No matter what it’s source, the wife and I felt it was doing more harm than good in this situation. This bully isn’t a large and hairy sabertooth tiger where flight is probably the correct response.  We sat with my daughter and explained to her that she needed to attend her classmates party even though she didn’t want to go.

“But, why?”, asked my daughter with tears welling up.

“Well, because the only reason you don’t want to go to the party is that you think the Bully will be there.  You’re running away from situations that should be fun just because of her.  You can’t live your life afraid of bullies. You need to learn to deal with them and this is a perfect example.” The wife replied trying to be as loving and understanding as possible while  exercising tough love.

“I just don’t want to deal with her! She ruins everything!.” Tears began to run down her cheek.

We sat and comforted her while we continued to explain why she needed to go. In the end, she went.  It turned out to not be as bad as she thought even though the bully tried hard to intimidate her.  It was a good learning experience for her and us. Hopefully, these lessons will stay with her and her self-esteem won’t be so easily deflated in the future.

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