It’s no secret both my children have dealt with bullying. I’ve always been open about that with everyone. Everything from what happened and their feelings, to how it was dealt with and the overall outcome. I will always do that. We’ve talked to our children about ways to deal with bullying and we’ve always hoped our children would come out stronger on the other side. Being bullied isn’t an easy thing to deal with. What I never thought about covering was how to deal with your friends being bullied. That’s where learning it’s not your battle to fight comes in.
Earlier this year my son punched another boy in the face. I’ll never forget when he told me. “Hey before the school calls I want you to know I punched someone in the face. There’s a referral coming home.” I told him we would talk when he got home. As it turns out that boy was picking on my son in class. He had asked him to stop multiple times and before he knew it he took a swing punching him right in the face. His first referral, his first fight-ish, his first detention. We always taught him violence is not the answer or the solution, but after 4 years of being bullied he’d had enough. I’ll be honest I was proud. My son stuck up for himself. He’d never been in trouble before and did lose electronics at home, but we were proud.
Choose your battles wisely. Not everything is worth your time or attention. The battles of others are not your responsibility.Ky Ackeret
Last week my son came home from school mad. He immediately threw his backpack down and started pacing the living room. Walking back and forth for a good five minutes before either of us talked. I like to observe before I ask what’s wrong so I can evaluate the situation, prepare myself, and figure out how to handle things. I’ve never seen my son like this before. He was heated. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me someone was picking on his friend *Ben. The boy was taunting him, calling him names, and hit him in the face with a basketball he deliberately threw at him. Why was my son so mad? The boy that did all this was the same boy that bullied my son for 4 years. Ben is shorter and overall smaller that the other 8th graders, so he was targeted by this boy. As my son paced the floor he said he was just trying to figure out how he was going to handle it. The pent up rage from 4 years of this boy bullying him was about to boil over and I knew he was going to punch him. That’s not how we handle things. Punches are for self defense, not rage.
Honestly I had no idea how to handle this situation. I have never seen my son like this before. One thing I knew for sure was he needed to calm down. Teenage boys get heated over the craziest things. They’re full of hormones, rage, and completely unpredictable. Will he get mouthy and roll his eyes when I ask him to take out the garbage or just willingly do it? Who knows. I explained to him that what happened to Ben was uncalled for and should have never happened, but it wasn’t his battle to fight. He couldn’t get involved or try to start a fight over this. Ben needs to take care of it. Not every battle you encounter is yours and you can’t get involved when it’s not your place. I applaud him for wanting to stick up for his friend and I reminded him of the potential consequences if he got involved. Another referral, possible suspension, and a label that says he’s a problem child that likes to fight. That’s not who he is.
When he went back to school, there wasn’t another word about it. He had time to cool down and think things over. It’s lessons like this you don’t think about teaching your child until life presents you the opportunity. When that happens, you have no idea how you will handle it because you haven’t thought about it. You may just surprise yourself with how well you handled it too. I know I did. Sticking up for your friends is honorable, but not every battle you encounter is yours to fight. Remember that.
*Indicates names have been changed to protect their privacy.