It is true. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear your words!” Unfortunately, negative behavior undermines anything positive that you do. You may have heard more than once about a boy who grew up in a home where the father was physically or emotionally abusive to the mother. Guess what? He probably grew up to do the same.
Sadly, this happens far too often. The child who becomes a bully learned how to be a bully by watching the adult or older members of his own family—and not just the male members of the family. I learned how to be a bully by watching how my father treated my mother. I cannot even tell you how happy I am that I finally learned what I was doing and took action to put a stop to it. Women can be just as abusive as men. A boy sees his parents bullying each other, and he gets the idea that this is the way adults handle their disagreements.
Growing up, my family fit this description to a tee. You and I both know otherwise—or at least we should. A girl might grow up in a similar environment. She then goes to school, identifies a classmate who is not big enough or strong enough to protect herself, and engages in the same bullying behavior she saw at home. In fact I was personally subjected to a girl in the fourth grade that bullied me physically because I would not hit her back. I can only imagine what kind of family life she must have had that emboldened her to attack a boy.
The boy and the girl will most likely grow up to become abusers themselves, and their children likely will repeat the pattern. As I said, I was a victim of this type of behavior when a female classmate in elementary school took advantage of the fact that I would not hit her back. None of us is perfect. I have done things in front of my daughter that I wish I had not. I had to learn to sit down with her after this happened, even if it was only for a moment or two, and explain that I was wrong for what I said or did. I would try to make her understand that we all do things that we wish we had not done.
I was also conscious of the need to avoid overdoing the apology thing. Doing the same thing over and over and over, then apologizing for it later, manifests a bigger problem. Doing this is not okay. At some point, you are just making excuses for bad behavior, and you really need to take steps to correct it on your own.
It’s also extremely important that you NEVER say either one of these things to your child. They can do more emotional harm that you can even begin to imagine. How would you have felt as a youngster if one of your parents said “I don’t love you anymore” or “You were a mistake.” Unfortunately a lot of parents in the heat of an argument will say something akin to one of these statements. Once they are out, you cannot take them back; the damage has already been done.
Remember, your children are like little sponges. They will soak up your good habits and your bad habits. I was lucky. I did not absorb the habits of over-drinking, experimenting with substance abuse, or smoking from my family. Hopefully, your children will not pick up these bad habits either.
A FREE ebook on Bully Proofing Your Child is available at the link below. www.bullyingdosanddonts.com/ebook/