“I hate you.”
“No one will ever want you.”
Harsh words might come in different packages, but we’ve all been hit upside the head with phrases that felt more like wrecking balls. In fact, for decades I saw myself through the lens of all sorts of cruel words administered by adolescent sources, looking in the mirror and seeing someone unlovable that, apparently, no one wanted. So what did I do? I lived that way even as an adult.
How do we head off the bullying problem with our kids, making sure they don’t have to live under the weight of devastating words, like we did?
As kids seem to get more clever with their words and the internet providing all sorts of opportunities for bullying, as parents, we have to give our children something greater than the devastation, coming in from another angle. We have to give them the why behind the bullying.
Have you ever met someone who was a disaster and instantly judged them? How could they be so rude while serving me my Starbucks? How could they be so needy and insecure? Why did they lay on their horn and cuss at me for making a silly driving mistake? And then, you find out their story. Oh, their dad just passed away, they’re being abused at home, or they’re late for a job interview and are about to lose their home. When you find out the ‘why,’ you instantly have more grace for the behavior.
What if we could pump our kids so full of adoration and affection at home, speaking the truth over them on a daily basis (because remember, your words create either life or death!), that the truth on the inside of them is greater than what’s coming at them from the outside? What if we could get our kids around the less fortunate, volunteering at the projects, the cancer wards, making sure to take meals and toys to those less fortunate? What if instead of keeping them safe on the right side of the railroad tracks, we took them into the reality of poverty on the other side of town?
The more they see, and the more they serve, I guarantee you, the more grace they will have stockpiled in the arsenal of their hearts.
I remember hating a particular girl in high school. Every time I passed her, she hurled curse words and insults at me for no reason, and then, I found out what a terrible home life she had. Instead of walking by her and preparing for the punch, I started walking by her with compassion, smiling, knowing that her cruelty had nothing to do with me.
The greatest weapon you can give your child is the foundation of identity–pouring in the truth God speaks over them, saying it out loud (even if they get annoyed!), and choosing the example of unconditional love and grace in your home. The more you can expose them to, the more you can teach them to serve, to see the broken and hurting, the more compassion they will have–and so will you.
No matter what is being done or said to your child, I promise, it’s never too late to start this. Focusing on a negative only ever produces a negative, so stop focusing on the bullying. Start focusing on the person behind the bullying. Ask them questions, “Why do you think this bully feels the need to be negative? Do you think they might not be getting the love they need at home, so they’re giving away all they have?” Ask questions. Pray for the person hurting them. Ask God to help you both see them from His perspective, and begin a counter attack of blessing those who are cursing you.
Kids are smart, and they’re primed for offensive combat. You just have to give them the right weapons.
Teach your kids to go on the offense if they’re being bullied at school instead of retreating in defense. Partner with them as they find healing. Cultivate an atmosphere with the truth is spoken over them daily and pray with them for the ones who are hurting them. I promise you, their perspectives will change, their hearts will heal, and your home will be a place where grace and love rules and reigns.
Christa Black is a popular blogger, speaker, and singer-songwriter whose songs have been recorded by multi-platinum-selling artists Jordin Sparks and Michael W. Smith. She has toured with The Jonas Brothers, Michael W. Smith, and Israel Houghton. After years of battling depression, addiction, and a chronically broken spirit, Christa was radically shaken by a God who truly loves ugly. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and son. God Loves Ugly is her first book and corresponds with her CD, God Loves Ugly. Visit Christa’s site to learn more and read the first chapter! http://christablack.com/book/