One question I think many parents grapple with is when should they stop intervening on their children’s behalf. As a parent myself, I have also grappled with this question. It is even more of a battle when the child is being bullied. I know, I have been on both sides of this issue as a target and a parent of one. So, the big question is: when should parents stop fighting their children’s battles?
As a parent, we want to do what is best for our kids. My mother was no different. I am sure that when I was going through that bullying hell, she went through one of her own, wondering whether or not she should come to my rescue from the bullies. There were times I told her about the bullying but she wouldn’t do anything. Probably as a means to get me to stand up for myself, but with my Asperger’s, I wasn’t sure how. I ponder that it might be the guilt from that era which was why she picked up the cudgels on my behalf on two occasions in my adult life. The first time was when I was in the Marines, when I discovered an ex girlfriend had been cheating on me the whole time I was away serving my country. Mother phoned this girl and told her a few home truths and what a mess she was. The second time was in my early forties where after a big row with my ex wife, she emailed my ex saying she was a spoilt brat.
I never asked nor expected my mother to do this for me but inwardly, I was glad. Of course, I got stick from both exes for getting my mother to fight my battles for me. My ex girlfriend tried to make out that it happened more than once but I know it wasn’t the case. Though she did say to one of my friends, “When you see Mike, tell him to stop getting his mother to do his dirty work for him.” Like I stated above, I had no idea my mother had done this until three days after the event.
Back to bullies and no parent wants their child to be bullied. However, parents deal with it differently. My mother’s long term boyfriend, who I drew some inspiration for the Ted character in “He Was Weird,” said that if his sons came in saying they were being picked on, he’d pick on them. This is a misguided attempt to toughen boys but it doesn’t work. In most cases, bullied boys won’t tell of any bullying because they fear worse consequences from their father. Victim blaming was rife back then.
With that said, there is a more important reason why targets won’t tell their parents they are being bullied. It’s a backlash from the bullies themselves. After what I called ‘The Episode’ in “He Was Weird,” actually happened, my mother did say, “Enough is enough” and went into the school to sort it out. While justice was served, the one bully, the one who influenced the David Fitzpatrick character, used it against me. Not long after, I had many bullies calling me a baby for getting my mother involved. While, the bullying took short break, it came back stronger with some bullies using the fact I might tell my mommy to get at me more.
It’s no secret that bullies will use any means at their disposal to get at the target. In the case of parental involvement, the target is made out to be a wimp for getting his mommy in and of course, people would side with the bully. This is another way of discouraging the target to fight back against the bullying. It also had an effect on me a few years later. In “He Was Weird,” there is an incident which I have nicknamed, ‘The Smiley Incident.’ Smiley is the nickname of the adult who pulls the Mark’s shorts down in a PE lesson. In the book, it is reported and Smiley is dealt with by the law but Mark is subjected to further bullying because he had Smiley fired and arrested.
This did actually happen to me two years later when I was a Freshman in high school. Someone actually nicknamed Smiley pulled my shorts down but because of the bullying from a few years earlier and the perceived backlash if I had reported it, I never did.
These days, parents are more willing to take action when their child is being bullied and thankfully, schools will take the bullying more seriously. Saying that, there is still a long long way to go in regards to this and parents and schools still have to do their part in stopping bullying.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36I8I1G32U0R4&keywords=he+was+weird&qid=1652725116&s=books&sprefix=he+was+%2Cstripbooks%2C148&sr=1-1
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