When you hear the word “Bully” what comes to mind?
Most people typically think of the school bully, taunting younger kids and threatening to beat them up after school. But the reality is that bullying takes on many different forms and is common among adults too.
I know a parent who is a bully. It is hard to think of parents as bullies, but they can be. Parents, who are overbearing, constantly belittling their children or enforcing rules with a heavy hand, may actually be crossing the line into bullying behavior. I believe there is a difference between correcting a child's inappropriate behavior and constantly trying to control every moment of that child's life.
First let me say that I do not have any children of my own; I've only been a stepparent to adult daughters. So, I had to do some detailed research on this topic before I felt that I could even talk about this publicly. I've learned that bullies thrive on the weaknesses of others. They have a distorted idea that if others feel powerless, it will make them more powerful. Bullies crave mental and emotional control and use fear and other tactics to help them feel superior.
Here are the bullying tactics I've seen the parent using:
- Undeserved criticism and verbal manipulation.
- Having excessive and unrealistic expectations.
- Disproportionate punishment.
- Favoritism towards some of the children.
- Cutting Sarcasm.
- Repeated insults and threats.
- Unnecessary Yelling
- Controlling the child's every movement.
- Violation of the child's privacy.
- Slavery - helping at home is reasonable, but having to labor before and after school until bedtime, to keep up with the parent’s unrealistic expectations, is not reasonable.
Here are the issues I see in the child that is bullied:
- Constant anxiety that the parent will be “mad”.
- Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
- Fearfulness of new experiences
- Digestive disturbances
HELP! I need help carefully addressing this issue without putting the child in danger of retaliation. I feel that the parent lacks the emotional intelligence to maintain a sense of control without bullying the child. Nothing the parent has done is illegal or physically abusive, but mentally the child is being broken. I just don’t know what needs to be done. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks