Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Back to Bullying

Cathy Seipp approvingly notes a trend towards authoritarian parenting. Sad eh, that after all this time, many parents can't find it in themselves to think of any solutions other than either neglect (which includes providing poor information), or outright bullying of their children.

From a related story in her blog, she writes:

"Personally, I've always taken a hard line where this kind of thing is concerned. I first realized this made me rather an oddball when Maia was in first grade, and when I went to pick her up one day, Ronald the after-school playground director told me she'd gotten in trouble that afternoon for some minor infraction -- running when she should have been walking, I think it was. As he was telling me this, Maia began (in a rather sassy voice) to pipe up with her side of the story, and I snapped at her, "Do NOT interrupt when adults are talking!" Ronald looked at me in amazement. "Thank you," he said. What amazed me was that he was so amazed, but since Maia was only six, I was still something of an innocent then about modern parenting habits".

Perhaps Cathy remains an innocent, if for a different reason, for what she seems to have failed to consider is that her behaviour apparently logically legitimizes her child abruptly telling a younger child to shut up whenever she happens to open her mouth - something which is fairly frequently construed as being an example of bullying behaviour.

Of course, neglect in its various guises often results in equally difficult behaviour, but there is another course which can and does work with children who have been raised in the understanding that they will be listened to. The tentative offer of what seems good theories to our children can and does do the trick. So here, perhaps, "Maia, could I possibly get his side of the story first, and then I can listen to yours, without getting muddled?" If the relationship is trusting, if the child knows that the parent will not side with the teacher if the truth seemingly does not support such a stance, then this is most likely to work.

4 comments:

Ron R said...

The obvious source/motivation for bullying.

When possible children are obedient to actions (our example) rather than obedient to words (instructions).

Carlotta said...

Yes, and there are several reasons for how that may be the case: eg: by acting poorly, parents would appear to be taking those poor theories seriously. Perhaps children are aware of this on some level.

Plus, children will perhaps simply unconsciously, follow the example.

Also perhaps unconsiously, they would feel that they have been given permission to behave that way.

They may even consciously work out some sort of mechanism of justification for this behaviour.

Or simply that being bullied is likely to result in more bullying because it would provide the necessary sense of empowerment or control that was surrendered in being bullied by the parent.

Carlotta said...

Errgh...also slightly ironic, as completely lost plot again this am! and yet again probably due to tiredness...Ouch and have apologised to good effect!

Leo said...

I was thinking about this and perhaps the reactionary attitude is because there are not really laws on behalf of children, on the contrary. Now drinking age is up to 21 in the UK?