Bullying won’t die because parents won’t stop bullying their kids.

It pains me to see our schools systems spending time and money trying to teach kids about bullying in an effort to make it stop. It pains me even more that the school system believes children are culpable.

For example, StopBullying.gov has a link to “the role kids play” on their “What is Bullying” page. Interestingly, there is no link for “the role parents play,” “the role teachers play,” “the role uncles play,” or similar.

There are many roles that kids can play. Kids can bully others, they can be bullied, or they may witness bullying. When kids are involved in bullying, they often play more than one role. Sometimes kids may both be bullied and bully others or they may witness other kids being bullied. It is important to understand the multiple roles kids play in order to effectively prevent and respond to bullying.

Actually government, none of that will effectively prevent bullying. And tiptoeing around this issue, making every possible effort to not highlight the role parents play is cowardly. You’re hereby stripped of your role in this matter.

Bullying is not a child-driven problem, it’s an adult-driven problem. Kids learn to be bullies from their bully mother and bully father. Their bully teachers. Their friends’ bully parents.

The constant negative interactions with adults and the other adverse experiences children have are the soil bullies sprout from. It’s also the soil the bullied sprout from. Being bullied by parents and other adults strips you of your self-worth and self-confidence. It makes you a target for bullies.

We’ve been led to think that it’s only the computer nerd with his too-full backpack that gets bullied. It’s not. Most of the time it’s Johnny with his abusive alcoholic father and his bitch mother who stands around watching her only child’s soul be destroyed, silently giving the okay.

If only the bullies and the bullied knew they were on the same team.

And this is why bullying will never die. Not until we stand up and address the root cause. Not until we clearly point fingers at adults who systematically disrespect and abuse children. Spanking, isolation, conditional love, coercion, yelling and screaming, threatening, raising the bar to impossible heights, laughing at a child’s pain, devalidating, frequently being intoxicated, mistreating others in the presence of children; these are all examples of the tools of bullies and the process by which they’re handed down.

Children don’t just experience these tools in the household. They’re built into the public school system. They’re built into the doctor’s office. They’re built into nearly every interaction children have with adults in our society.

The latest craze is to post videos of your children getting shots, screaming in fear, with you laughing in the background. Or posting your children in a big ant-sibling-rivalry t-shirt looking shameful while you gather hundreds of likes from your bully friends for being a creative disciplinarian. Sorry mom, having the best parenting board on Pinterest isn’t a virtue. Bullies, all of you.

Every “what do you think about this parent’s response” thread on Facebook has a gazillion comments that are almost exclusively pro-parent and ant-child. Like the mom who assaulted her son in Baltimore for participating in the riots. Do you think that’s the first time that boy has been assaulted by his mother or father? It’s okay for mom to be violent, but not for her son to be. I get it—nobody has principles. Bullies, all of you.

If you truly care about ending bullying, then it starts with you stepping up and refusing to teach skillful bullying to your children. It also starts with you stepping up to make sure that your children learn the language of love and peace at every possible moment through your interactions with them. Once that is done, start standing up for other children. Lastly, start objecting to the systematic abuse and disrespect of children in our society.

Being peaceful to children is the only way to have peaceful children…and then peaceful adults.

26 comments
  • zack

    Kids are easy to blame because they “aren’t developed yet” and “don’t know any better” and so on, while parents and adults quite naturally think of themselves as nothing less than jolly saint Nick, perfect in every way, worthy of our deepest sympathies because of their “putting up with” those lowly children!

    I do wonder though, if you haven’t blurred the lines a little with your comment about spanking and isolation. I know you have strong feelings about those disciplinary tools but my comment is this: There really IS such a thing as the consequences of bad behavior. Actions and reactions. Reaping what you sow etc etc.
    Where do you draw the line between parenting and bullying? Children don’t run homes nor do they raise themselves. The word “parenting” actually has a meaning, it means training your children to be quality adults and this means you will have to deal with thousands and thousands of situations where children behave badly, on purpose, disrespectful, rebellious, angry outbursts etc etc.
    Unless you never ever have consequences for bad behavior, do you call ALL consequences “bullying”?
    I don’t care if it’s spanking or “time outs” or having a favorite thing taken away for a while, you can always call it “bullying” because it always boils down to “do what I want you to do, OR ELSE!”

    I think there is a fine line between bullying and good parenting. Bullying is the act of messing with the comforts of someone else’s life for no reason whatsoever. i.e. “I don’t like your face” and knock the food tray out of their hand for no reason. Parenting, whether you like the techniques or not, is always meant for the child’s good and character building and moral development.

    The government may have got it all wrong, and society has got it all wrong, but if you’re saying that a parent spanks their kid for rank rebellion somehow leads to a kid who laughs at knocking over the food tray and tripping another person because he “doesn’t like their face” then I wouldn’t agree.

    Honestly, I don’t know what drives kids to be bullies in that sense. Mom takes away Nintendo because Jonny squirted all the toothpaste onto the couch, so Jonny turns around and becomes a kid who laughs at punching other kids in the gut? I dunno, it’s a huge stretch!

    • Kevin Geary

      This is an interesting question, Zack.

      There’s a lot here so I’m trying to figure out where to start.

      First, I think we have to draw a line between bad children and bad behavior. I don’t see any children as inherently bad. There is desirable behavior and undesirable behavior, but we have to be very careful with that even.

      For example, if a child doesn’t want to stop watching television to come eat dinner upon the request of mom, is it bad behavior for them to say no? Some would say yes. But how is this bad behavior? What has it done to anyone? The behavior is undesirable to mom, but it’s desirable to the child. Who has the right to pick which person’s desires are better in this situation?

      Let’s turn to consequences because we can use the same scenario. One parent might choose the consequence of unplugging the television and sending the child to their room for disobeying. Is that a consequence, or merely a punishment levied by an authority? I’d say the latter. And the problem with it is that it’s inauthentic. When said child is 18, are you going to still be sending him to his room? How are these choices going to get said child to come visit you on Thanksgiving when he’s 34?

      Rather, you should communicate to him what you’re feeling: “It’s really important to me that you eat dinner with the family. We love your company, etc. etc.” and an authentic consequence, if he still says no, might be to eat without him. There are built in consequences to this. His food gets cold (at which point you decline warming it up because it was warm when you asked him to join you), he misses being able to tell you about something important to him (because now you’re needing to do errands around the house or work on the computer). Depending on age, you can leave the dishes for him to do, and if he doesn’t want to do them, you kindly let him know that you’re not willing to cook dinner for him if he’s not willing to help clean up, etc.

      Many people misdefine the word “peaceful” as “without limits” and “without consequences.” There are most certainly limits and consequences. They’re just the same limits and consequences you’d levy on anyone. I wouldn’t invite a friend over for dinner who never shows gratitude, never helps clean up, never brings a dish, etc. If that friend won’t stop watching television when it’s time to eat, I’d express disappointment. I wouldn’t hit or yell at my friend and send them to a separate room. Every behavior has some sort of consequence naturally. If your kid refuses to wear a coat, the consequence is that they’re cold. They don’t need a time out, they just need to be cold.

      Bullying doesn’t come from one instance of being punished or yelled at. It comes from the underlying feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and conditional love that children translate those punishments and that type of treatment into over time. It’s like a bacteria that grows in a household that’s not peaceful.

      • zack

        “For example, if a child doesn’t want to stop watching television to come eat dinner upon the request of mom, is it bad behavior for them to say no? Some would say yes. But how is this bad behavior? What has it done to anyone? The behavior is undesirable to mom, but it’s desirable to the child. Who has the right to pick which person’s desires are better in this situation?”

        This is why societies and cultures have authority structures in the first place. At the end of the day, someone has to be boss to keep order in the ranks, so to speak.
        I don’t think this idea is universally applicable though. How does my boss have the right to set a dress code? Who do I hurt by what I wear? How does the government have the right to define my driving? How does the corner store have the right to tell me I can’t wear shoes, who does it hurt? If we only ever defined morality and behavior by whether it “hurts” someone, we would have an absolutely horrid culture.

        At some level, most “rules” are in a way just arbitrary, based on nothing but contrived possible negative outcomes or a sense of piety. What happens in a society if every single person acts as perfect equals to everybody else, and everybody has to ignore or challenge every request from every person? This is called anarchy, and I don’t see how anarchy leads to good moral character. It is defined by rebellion.

        Why should the child come to the table instead of watch TV? Because the parents said so. Parents should not have to have an authority battle with children. There is a reason we’re in charge in our own homes. We shouldn’t have to negotiate, barter, battle, beg, threaten, plead or in other ways behave as if the child has all equal authority and rights in the home. They do not.

        “Let’s turn to consequences because we can use the same scenario. One parent might choose the consequence of unplugging the television and sending the child to their room for disobeying. Is that a consequence, or merely a punishment levied by an authority? I’d say the latter. And the problem with it is that it’s inauthentic. When said child is 18, are you going to still be sending him to his room? How are these choices going to get said child to come visit you on Thanksgiving when he’s 34?”

        You don’t have to send the 18 year old to his room, because good parenting would have stopped the bad behavior over a decade earlier. If you are still levying the same punishment for the same behavior for 15 years, chances are good you’re doing it wrong!

        Sometimes consequences and punishments are the same thing.

        To make this more personal though, if I had that exact situation with my 2 year old daughter, I know she is very distracted by the TV so I would have to give her many opportunities to listen and obey. Then I would probably compromise, like you need to eat dinner with us, and you can finish the show after dinner.

        Lastly, why would the 34 year old want to come home for thanksgiving, when he was raised being able to watch TV and play video games and never have to eat with the family to begin with? Probably, just like his entire childhood, he will go do whatever he wants instead of eating with the family, so why would that attitude change?

        Thought provoking as usual. Thanks

        • Kevin Geary

          Zack, you’re misdefining anarchy.

          But that’s besides the point.

          Why should the child come to the table instead of watch TV? Because the parents said so. Parents should not have to have an authority battle with children. There is a reason we’re in charge in our own homes. We shouldn’t have to negotiate, barter, battle, beg, threaten, plead or in other ways behave as if the child has all equal authority and rights in the home. They do not.

          And when the child is bigger than you…then what? They get to treat you the way you treated them? What you forget is that your strategy tears down respect rather than building it. It tears down a child’s ability to be autonomous, it doesn’t build it. Your approach has severe consequences that we can see rippling throughout society.

          You don’t have to send the 18 year old to his room, because good parenting would have stopped the bad behavior over a decade earlier. If you are still levying the same punishment for the same behavior for 15 years, chances are good you’re doing it wrong!

          Why you think nearly EVERYONE complains about having teenagers? They can no longer control them and the teenagers are in full rebellion mode. This isn’t because people tried to raise kids peacefully, it’s because they pretended all along that they were the “AUTHORITY!” and demanded kids do things. Carrots and sticks. That’s what CAUSES the problem.

          • zack

            Anarchy: “a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority.”

            You seem to reject the idea that parents are authorities in the home over children. If there is to be no authority structure, you are left with anarchy.

            And when the child is bigger than you…then what? They get to treat you the way you treated them? What you forget is that your strategy tears down respect rather than building it. It tears down a child’s ability to be autonomous, it doesn’t build it. Your approach has severe consequences that we can see rippling throughout society.

            I disagree then. A government official is an authority over me, and so is a police officer and so is my boss. I respect their wishes because of their position and status and because at some level I believe they have that position in order to do what’s best for me. When I DON’T respect their position is when they turn from authority into dictator/slavemaster and “controller” instead of “leader” of those under them.

            When the child is “bigger than me” is irrelevant. Authorities and respect transcend height, weight, size, age.

            Why you think nearly EVERYONE complains about having teenagers? They can no longer control them and the teenagers are in full rebellion mode. This isn’t because people tried to raise kids peacefully, it’s because they pretended all along that they were the “AUTHORITY!” and demanded kids do things. Carrots and sticks. That’s what CAUSES the problem.

            I respectfully disagree. I have an alternate theory. Teenagers rebel because the parents NEVER WERE an authority to begin with! The kids did whatever they wanted, got whatever they wanted, demanded whatever they wanted, and were treated as equals with adults and were never told “no”.
            Now that they are older and demand more freedom, money, keys to the car, late nights with boyfriends/girlfriends and attending sketchy parties, wanting to drink, etc etc etc, suddenly the parents get scared and NOW want to say “no”, want to act as authority, want to have some say in the kid’s life, which they NEVER HAD before, and the teenagers are like, “uh no, never had to listen to you before, not gunna start now.”

            If a parent never said “no” when they were 5, why would a 17 year old respect a “no” to go a sketchy party now?

            Teenagers rebel because parents are trying to become an authority when it’s too late to do so, and not because they were raised, lead, disciplined properly while growing up.

            Obviously you’ll disagree. But before you do, I know there are many exceptions to the rule, to both of our theories. I do believe without a doubt, kids will rebel against parents who are dictators rather than leaders. Who are utterly arbitrary in their discipline and rules rather than liberal. Who show nothing but desire to control, rather than desire to grow a child, etc.

            People do not rebel against quality leadership, it’s just a matter of historical fact, people follow quality leaders and rebel against poor leadership.

          • Kevin Geary

            A free market is a state of anarchy and it’s quite organized. Or one could argue that great order comes from disorder. I’m not going to continue to spend time on this. It requires far too much discussion to help you understand. To say that kids rebel because their parents weren’t authoritarian enough is absurd in a society where EVERYTHING is authoritarian. Lol. Every year of practically every child’s life is filled with authority from parents to schools to after-school programs. I think you need to spend more time thinking critically about what kids experience.

    • Kassie

      I would respectfully have to disagree with basically EVERYTHING you (Zack) have said in this thread of replies. I personally was raised by my father (My mother passed away when I was 4) My father was raised In a home where he was constantly standing up for my grandmother and his 2 brothers S his stepfather was an abusive drunk whom my father started dragging home from the bar at the age of 12. All that being said. My father is an extremely peaceful man, he was very lenient in raising both my brother and I. He did not use even the word punishment. He was a true believer of consequences for actions. Not necessarily consequences laid out by him! So in turn I learned very much by cause and effect. As a teen I was respectful, I understood the meaning of authority, it made sense to me that my actions had consequences. Not that I always chose the right actions….I didn’t. But, I never went through a rebellious stage with my father. I respected him. To this day I still do there is nothing I wouldn’t do for that man or my fellow man/woman for that matter. I was never sent to my room, I was never degraded and told I was “bad” or “stupid” or being bad or stupid. So I never thought I was a bad kid.
      I personally now have a step son whom has extreme anger issues, he is constantly in trouble he gets yelled at by his mother on a regular basis as a punishment for spilling her nailpolish on the cat she cut a big chunk of hair out of his head and made him go to school that way for 2 weeks. What does he do? at age 6 being spanked and yelled and and always in trouble and sent to his room…. he uses extremely inapropriate language, he bullies kids at school, hit hits and slaps and spits on teachers on the regular. The list goes on and on. When he is with myself and my Husband he isn’t always the picture of perfect but, he respects us, he does as he’s asked, he understands his consequences he strives to do better! We don’t punish him we lay out rules and consequences follow he understands them! I’m a personal believer of peaceful conflict resolution ALWAYS and I don’t ever plan on ignoring my stepsons emotional needs

  • nicanone

    I really truly enjoyed this article. Is there any chance the cuss words could be edited, i only ask because i would absolutely LOVE to share this. Thank you for writing this piece as well as your reply comment above.
    Sincerely,
    A mommy switching to Peaceful parenting

  • zack

    To say that kids rebel because their parents weren’t authoritarian enough is absurd in a society where EVERYTHING is authoritarian. Lol. Every year of practically every child’s life is filled with authority from parents to schools to after-school programs. I think you need to spend more time thinking critically about what kids experience.

    As a parent, I think critically about these things constantly, thanks. And that’s why I ended up on this blog and your email list.

    I completely disagree with your assessment of society and cannot fathom how you can even come to that conclusion that we’re moving toward more and more authority rather than less and less, which seems to be the actual state of things.

    For the last three or four decades society has been bullying parents to be less and less of disciplinarians and authorities in their kids lives. For a hundred years, school teachers have had less and less ability to discipline children to the point where children respect neither parents (or adults in general) nor teachers and will walk all over both of them as they will.

    The only part of this society growing in authority (read: control) of people is government. The people losing any and all control and authority has been parents and teachers. Just read the headlines of parents being bullied by government, or other people, for daring to discipline their kids in public, let them go for walks on their own, play in the back yard unsupervised, be homeschooled in some unorthodox manner, etc etc etc.

    Parents are not growing in authority, neither are teachers. They’ve been losing that for decades.

    Thanks for the chat.

  • Kevin Geary

    I completely disagree with your assessment of society and cannot fathom how you can even come to that conclusion that we’re moving toward more and more authority rather than less and less, which seems to be the actual state of things.

    What evidence do you have that parents and schools are moving toward less authority? Have you seen schools recently?

  • zack

    Respect doesn’t come from disciplining children…

    The flipside of this statement would be to say “respect comes from not disciplining children”.
    At its face, that seems like nonsense and doesn’t make sense so there must be something missing in both those statements. I don’t agree with your philosophy, at least not in that simplistic term.

    I would say respect comes from being a good leader, but parents are more than leaders, they are flesh and blood, there is something more to it. Bill Gates may be a good leader in terms of business or programming, but does not command enough respect to discipline me. In other words, he can tell me how to use C++ but he can’t take my car keys away or ground me. This is exactly because he does NOT have that kind of respect from me to command a disciplinarian role.

    Let’s face it, there are things our parents did that no one else on earth could do because parents command a different level of respect from us that allows discipline. Even children who lose a parent or are in foster care or get adopted, know deep down there is a respect that only flesh and blood can have. This is perhaps whey they rebel against discipline (“no I won’t, you’re not my ‘real’ dad”, etc).

    I would half agree with you here. I don’t think it’s the discipline that “creates” the respect, but I do think they walk hand in hand. The respect allows and appreciates the discipline, while the discipline itself is a tool they understand is for their ultimate good and is only appreciated/allowed due to the respect they have for the leader.

    What evidence do you have that parents and schools are moving toward less authority? Have you seen schools recently?

    Well you got me here. Of course I don’t travel around the country hanging out in schools. And there is a huge difference based on the type of school too, or the age of students we’re talking about etc. But you can’t disagree that the public school system is degrading, and in some schools it is little more than anarchy and student-rule, with extremely poor graduation rates.
    This, in part, due to zero respect for tenured, lazy teachers, zero respect for the school leadership, and zero respect even for education itself.

    This is a huge failure on the part of all leadership involved in raising these kids in such a difficult culture and society.

    I don’t believe the answer to raising better, more respectful, behaved, forward-looking, non-selfish, non-nihilistic kids is to say parents should stop trying to discipline them and just do whatever they want and allow “natural” consequences.
    I don’t believe there are any “natural consequences” these kids care about except for maybe being shot, stabbed, or sent to prison. They can handle anything else.

    Good kids, who become good citizens, I believe, starts at birth, in the home, with proper leadership and parenting by moms and dads. Government programs, schools, teachers, good books, facebook groups, will not solve it.
    It’s like the phrase “only YOU can prevent forest fires!”. I would say “only PARENTS can raise honorable, respectful decent citizens.”
    This, of course, assumes the parents themselves are honorable, respective, decent people. There is a vicious cycle that can spiral down without end. What kind of parents will these high school dropouts and failures become? That is, if they don’t abort all their babies, or get locked up first.

  • Kevin

    I don’t believe the answer to raising better, more respectful, behaved, forward-looking, non-selfish, non-nihilistic kids is to say parents should stop trying to discipline them and just do whatever they want and allow “natural” consequences.

    Sigh. Straw man.

    I would say respect comes from being a good leader, but parents are more than leaders, they are flesh and blood, there is something more to it. Bill Gates may be a good leader in terms of business or programming, but does not command enough respect to discipline me. In other words, he can tell me how to use C++ but he can’t take my car keys away or ground me. This is exactly because he does NOT have that kind of respect from me to command a disciplinarian role.

    Respect comes from love and leadership. But taking someone’s car keys away or grounding them doesn’t require respect. It’s called force and coercion for a reason. Commanding has nothing to do with respect, it has to do with power. Kids don’t respect parents who hit them, they FEAR parents who hit them. Kids don’t respect parents who ground them, they HATE parents who ground them.

    You can NEVER achieve respect through force. And your examples of discipline all seem to be force-based.

    • zack

      But taking someone’s car keys away or grounding them doesn’t require respect.

      Is it supposed to? Those are consequences to bad behaviors that the parent and child mutually know and agree upon. “Son, if you act like X, you lose the keys for a day.”, “sure dad”. Son then acts like X, son loses keys. Parents do what they say, say what they mean, and mean what they say, and child knows what’s coming.
      Why do you need this over the top language to describe this very simple situation?
      It’s not like the parent just randomly woke up, randomly decides some past behavior was wrong, randomly invents a new random punishment for it and then instantly applies the punishment before the kid ever knew what was going on.
      The only way discipline works is when all parties involved understand HOW and WHY it all happens, why there are rules, why certain behaviors are not allowed, and why there are consequences to bad behavior.

      If the child doesn’t like the punishment of getting their keys taken away, by golly maybe just maybe they won’t do the bad behavior that causes the keys to be taken away don’t you think?
      Jonny keeps drinking, Jonny keeps getting keys taken away. You say Jonny just ends up hating parents for their fear mongering and coercion. I say maybe just maybe Jonny changes his habits and learns to stop drinking and perhaps be more responsible if he wants to keep his keys. Perhaps?

      It’s called force and coercion for a reason.

      Call it what you want. You do that just for the emotion of it. I support traditional marriage, but others like to instead call this hate-mongering, homophobe anti-love, taking other peoples freedom or whatever they want, it’s all just for emotions. I can only respond with, no, I’m not any of that, I just think traditional marriage is best for society and family, really it’s not complex.
      Likewise, you can namecall with “force”, “coercion”, “fear” language and whatever kind of emotional speech you can come up with, but at then end of the day, I just support the idea of behavioral boundaries enforced with appropriate consequences. It’s not complicated or mean or hateful.

      Commanding has nothing to do with respect, it has to do with power. Kids don’t respect parents who hit them, they FEAR parents who hit them. Kids don’t respect parents who ground them, they HATE parents who ground them.

      No, it has to do with behavior and morality. Not power. We’re raising children here, not conquering foreign lands.

      Again, you’re just changing to emotional language rather than being rational. Good parents set up proper rules and boundaries. Kids understand what the consequences are to bad behaviors. When they do the bad behavior, they expect the consequence. This has nothing to do with wild-eyed parents running around slugging their kids for arbitrary reasons causing their kids to hate and fear them.
      Kids have NOTHING to fear from a parent who properly disciplines them. What they DO have to fear is that when they knowingly behave badly they will have to accept the consequences of their actions. This is not a negative “fear” to have. I fear the cliffs of the Grand Canyon, and clutch the rails tightly, but I don’t then hate the Grand Canyon because I fear it. The “power” it has over me is awesome, deserving of respect. In your world, it would seem that I should hate the GC and never want to visit because I’m afraid of cliffs and thus complete disrespect the entire place.

      The “fear” you speak of is more like the trailer trash drunken dad who makes his kids fetch his beer and food and gives them a good slugging whenever there is a commercial break. Yes, THESE kids fear their parents in the way you say, they never know when a good walloping is coming, their heads hang low, they cower, they hide during commercials.
      Contrast with a loving parent with adequate moral and behavioral boundaries who enacts consequence for bad behavior. These two kids are NOTHING like each other. The 2nd kid has nothing to cower from, nothing to hang his head about, and doesn’t have to run and hide during commercials. He only has to accept his consequence IF and only IF he knowingly behaves badly, which he is perfectly aware of, and knows full well what consequence is coming his way.

      It’s like saying I “fear” the government for no other reason then they will jail me if I speed through a school zone. Just because they will jail me for speeding doesn’t mean I live in fear all the time and hate and disrespect them. It’s quite simple, just don’t speed in school zones and all is well! And even if I DO speed in a school zone and get jailed, I was well aware of that consequence and I know the rules are there for the safety of others.

      Discipline does not equal disrespect, fear, or hate. Some parents do it wrong, but we all grow up and deal with it and move on.

  • Kevin

    Is it supposed to? Those are consequences to bad behaviors that the parent and child mutually know and agree upon…The only way discipline works is when all parties involved understand HOW and WHY it all happens, why there are rules, why certain behaviors are not allowed, and why there are consequences to bad behavior.

    No, because this type of “discipline” is used by parents from day one before a child can even speak. You can’t cherry pick the teenage years!

    Again, you’re just changing to emotional language rather than being rational. Good parents set up proper rules and boundaries. Kids understand what the consequences are to bad behaviors. When they do the bad behavior, they expect the consequence. This has nothing to do with wild-eyed parents running around slugging their kids for arbitrary reasons causing their kids to hate and fear them.

    For someone who is still ASSUMING what my position on “discipline” is, you’re pretty quick to claim that I’m not being rational.

    Kids have NOTHING to fear from a parent who properly disciplines them.

    You’re speaking in vague generalities. It’s unhelpful.

    Discipline does not equal disrespect, fear, or hate. Some parents do it wrong, but we all grow up and deal with it and move on.

    The challenge you’re having is that you still haven’t defined discipline. You’re using a term that we haven’t agreed on a definition for.

  • Jen

    Wow! This is an interesting conversation. I am going to try and follow it. I happen to agree that bullying comes from the adults so it’s interesting to see the thoughtful argument that has developed here in the Comments. Thanks, guys!

  • April

    My biggest concern with this is safety. I have tried to raise my son peacefully, but he does not respect my authority enough to move out of danger when I call him. The natural consequences of this type of behavior is too high. I was raised to move IMMEDIATELY when my mother spoke. I don’t agree with the methods used on me, but I need the authority over him to keep him safe. How do you address this?

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi April, it’s not authority that accomplishes this. If you were in a new place and a friend pointed out a danger to you, you wouldn’t listen because they have authority over you. You’d listen because you trust them. You didn’t give me your son’s age, so it’s hard to give you an answer in the necessary context, but I wanted to point out that authority is not the issue here.

  • Katie

    “Most of the time it’s Johnny with his abusive alcoholic father and his bitch mother who stands around watching her only child’s soul be destroyed, silently giving the okay.” That sentence right there? Holy misogyny batman! As if in this scenario, his “bitch” mother isn’t also a victim, but sure, it’s up to her to stop it. I call bullshit! While you do seem to make an attempt to apply the blame to adults in general, I didn’t see anyone else mentioned garner the label “bitch”. That’s reserved for the mother, and only for not stopping it, not even perpetrating the bullying. Johnny’s “alcoholic” father (and the label “alcoholic” would garner him sympathy from the reader, you see, he’s sick. Probably because of that bitch wife of his.) Uncles, teachers, school systems, Dr’s offices, all of these other adults are mentioned as perpetrators of bullying, not one of them is called a “bitch” or anything remotely similar. That one sentence right here makes it abundantly clear whose responsibility the author feels it is to stop the epidemic of bullying and it sure as hell isn’t the perpetrators! This is mind boggling. Here’s why bullying is a problem: it is endemic to patriarchy. Hierarchy? Domination? Competition? Being discouraged at every turn from dealing with your feelings in a healthy way so that you end up taking your pain out on others in the form of verbal bullying or even violence? Those all belong to patriarchy. So tell me why again women are expected to stop it? This is like putting the onus of responsibility for preventing rape on women. While there are certainly plenty of women out there who defend and uphold the patriarchy, as a whole we are much more likely to be victims of it. and the odds of Johnny’s mother not also being a victim of Johnny’s father are slim to none. You unabashedly hung your misogyny out there for all to see. Disgusting.

    • Kevin Geary

      “Kids learn to be bullies from their bully mother and bully father. Their bully teachers. Their friends’ bully parents.”

      That line, which is the most important of the article probably, is gender-neutral. I will not sit here and let you spread this nonsense about misogyny and “patriarchy” as being the cause of everything. Formulate real, intelligent arguments and stop with this manipulative sophistry. If you can’t do that, your future comments will be deleted.

      • Lucy

        Whilst Katie’ s comment was perhaps a little over the top I have to say your use of the word “bitch” in that sentence was a little worrying. Can you see how that could be offensive?

        • Kevin Geary

          Yes, of course. People are offended by lots of things. I’m not the only blog on the internet that includes curse words. I think writing similar to real life is important. I get emails about people being offended by articles that have zero curse words. There’s no way to make everyone happy so I’m not going to try. I’m just going to do me and let it be.

  • Trina Dye

    Hi Kevin,

    I am happy to see there are others out there who are sharing my opinion and writing about it. It is a really difficult subject. I wrote a piece called “If You Hit Your Child, You Are A Bully” and I got a lot of hate mail for it. Responding to those comments took a lot out of me and I realized that most of the people writing those comments were most likely bullied themselves and were then repeating those patterns with their kids. It is true that some break the cycle (I am one of those) and raise their kids in punishment-free, positive parenting homes. You are so right. It really does work. Unfortunately, most parents in this country do not agree with us. As many as 90% of parents are still hitting their kids and most believe that “to discipline” means “to punish.” But, I am sure you already know all this. Thank you for tackling such a tough subject.

  • Tania Michelle Adams

    I love this article and the fact that you have taken so much heat for it proves that it hit a nerve. As a Life Coach who coaches children who have been victimised/bullied and their parents, I can firmly say that bullying is indeed an adult problem. Bullies & thier victims learn their roles by virtue of the combination of their primary environment and their temperament. I will only work with a child if the parent is also willing to be coached. Sadly, even well meaning parents teach their chidlren how to be bullied by not teaching them kindness with boundaries. Thanks for running the gauntlet and getting the conversation going!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

START YOUR REVOLUTIONARY PARENTING JOURNEY
Start With My Short Book, "Without a Fight," Free...
Discover the fundamentals of Revolutionary Parenting & get my best advice straight to your inbox...
SEND ME THE BOOK
No spam, ever.
LIMITED TIME FREEDOWNLOAD

GET STARTED WITH MY BOOK, "WITHOUT A FIGHT," TOTALLY FREE...

Learn the 5 principles of Revolutionary Parenting for ending the struggle for power and leading children authentically.
DOWNLOAD NOW

Bullying won’t die because parents won’t stop bu…

by Kevin Geary time to read: 3 min
26