5 Truths Only Parents of Bullied Kids Understand

A closer look at what parents experience and how to help


When a child has been victimized, it changes parents. They have experienced something not every parent will experience in their lifetime. Here are seven observations that parents of bullied kids will understand (and every parent and educator needs to know). Use these simple truths to help you better understand parents of bullied kids and to encourage them.

“What our kid is going through brings us to our knees.” Nothing will stop you in your tracks quicker than learning that your child has been a victim of bullying.

Not only are you shocked that another child could be so cruel, but you also cannot believe that another child has singled out this child you love so much. It is almost debilitating in its impact. You heart is broken for your child and you feel at a loss for how to protect your child from further pain and sometimes injury. And from that point on, every time your child heads off to school without you, you will be thinking about him and wonder if he is safe.

How other parents and educators can help? Be empathetic and understanding. Recognize the hurt, pain, and fear they are experiencing and try to be reassuring.

“Getting our child through a bullying situation is both scary and draining.” Not only do victims of bullying feel powerless and vulnerable, but so do the parents. So much is outside of their control. The school investigation does not seem to move fast enough. The safety measures put in place to protect the child seem flimsy and ineffectual.

And there is very little the parent can do about it. What’s more, the time spent researching bullying, talking with school officials, communicating with their child, following up with school officials and getting outside help for their child is draining. Many times, these parents have jobs and other children to worry about.

Trying to juggle it all can be exhausting.

How other parents and educators can help? Understand that dealing with a bullying situation is a big deal for parents. If you are an educator, the more information you can give them, the better. Stay in regular contact and be sensitive to their time limitations and schedules. If you are another parent, offer to help out with the kids or run errands so they can focus on getting the bullying situation resolved as well as find counseling and support for their bullied child.

“We are more than “the lady whose kid is being shamed online” or “the guy whose son was beaten up.” Having a child who is bullied does not even come close to defining who these parents are as people.  They are still a spouse, a friend, a sibling, a co-worker, a neighbor and so on. They still have jobs and families and may even coach, attend church or volunteer. The point is that they enjoy doing the same things they did before they found out that their child was being bullying and they really want other people to understand this.

And, they want to talk about more than the bullying their child experienced.

How other parents and educators can help? Do not define the parent by what they are experiencing. Instead, try to get to know the whole person. Also, avoid gossip and rumors about the parents and their child. They have enough to deal with without the entire town talking about them.

“We are anxious about our child’s future.” Bullying can create a huge sense of distrust in other people, not only for victims but for parents as well. As a result, parents often struggle with trusting teachers, administrators, students and even other parents. They may worry more than other parents about the safety of their child. They also worry that small disagreements among friends can turn into something much worse.

How other parents and educators can help? First, be patient, understanding and empathetic. What this parent has gone through has been significant. So it is normal that they would question things more vigorously. Do everything you can to reassure them about their safety of their child. Also, provide as much information as you can. The more they know, they less likely they will be to worry.

“Sometimes, we’re sad, really sad. And sometimes, we’re mad, really mad.” Bullying creates a wide range of emotions for parents. Sometimes they struggle with sadness, to the point of depression. And other times they struggle with explosive anger at the injustices their child is experiencing. Some parents will either be sad or mad, while others will go back and forth between the two emotions. The point is that bullying has a huge impact on parents.

How other parents and educators can help? Understand that bullying creates an emotional situation not just for the victim but for the parent as well. Be understanding and patient as the parent works through these emotions. And try not to be offended if they direct their anger at you. Instead, help them see that the person they should be upset with is the bully. After all, schools can have the best bullying prevention programs around and kids will still make bad choices.

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