Last week, I attended a particular all-boy holiday gathering with my son and his dad. We are brand new to the group, and began meeting the boys and their families who are in the group (but for one family whom we already knew) that evening. My former spouse and I sat at a large round table with our son, and many other boys came and filled up our table. Our son sat among the boys, including next to his new friend whom he made through school. My Ex and I were the only adults at the table with the boys who were aged 10-12 years old.
During the meal of this gathering, one boy approached another boy and began bullying him. I knew that both boys were brothers and passed judgment on them that they probably behave in such ways in private, much as I often see older brothers do with younger brothers. My son, who was sitting next to the younger boy who was being bullied by his older and bigger brother, told him to “stop bullying.” The boy who was being bullied completed the catch phrase – “speak up” – that has been seen on an anti-bullying TV commercial. The older boy told my son to “shut up” as he messed with his younger brother, the older boy physically pushing his younger brother on his head. My son stood up to the older boy, and he backed down and walked away from them.
During this interaction, I told my son from across the table not to get involved. First, we were new to the group and did not really know the nuances of the interactions between the boys. Secondly, I was concerned for my son’s safety, and did not desire for him to be hurt in some way by the older, bigger boy. My son, however, knows what it is like to be bullied, and he does not like it. He knows that I generally stand up to bullying, and I can see that my efforts have had a positive effect on him.
I later kissed and hugged my son for his involvement in stopping the bullying that occurred. I told my son that I was very proud of him. I also explained my reasons to him for not wanting him to get involved, however he saw that bullying is bullying, no matter who it is directed toward. He did not want to see it happening, and he took a stand against and stopped it. While he was uncomfortable about the situation, he was also proud of himself – and rightly so – that he could help someone and make a positive difference for him. The situation also boosted his confidence level. He was able to help the underdog, as he has all too often been in many situations, especially in school as well as within this boys’ organization on a broader scope.
In the past, I have also stood up against bullying – not within this individual boys’ organization in which we are new – but within other groups associated with this national boys’ organization. The organization is supposed to promote goodness, kindness, and Christianity among the boys. And, when a mom such as myself does not see that happening – and when my son also does not observe it occurring – we have stood up, made our voices heard, and taken steps to attempt to stop the bullying – not only among the boys, but also among adults, as well. Sometimes, we have been successful, but most times, we have not.
Even so, the experience that my son had in standing up to and stopping bullying is a small victory. Not only is it a victory for the boy who was being bullied by his older brother, it is a victory for my son, too. He can place himself in the shoes of another person who is being bullied because he has all too often been bullied by so many. The amount of bullying that he has experienced is incredible.
Now, at 10, my son is at an age where he feels confident enough to actually stand up to bullying. When I did not want to stand up to bullying, he did. That is also a victory for me, as well – my own son stood up to and stopped bullying. I have taught him something, standing up for the right thing; and for that, I am very proud of him and know that I have made a positive difference in his life. 🙂
Note: This article has also been published, separately, in my anti-bullying group in LinkedIn, “People Against Retaliation and Bullying” on December 27, 2013.