“Act your age not your shoe size.” ~ Prince
Two guys were making fun of another who was most likely schizophrenic and talking to himself.
I told them that the only difference between them and him is he didn’t have any control of the sh*t coming out of his mouth and they did, and to zip it.
Mental illness is a disease just like any other; have compassion.
After this interaction, I started to put a lot of thought into this: at what stage in life do we learn to become a bully? As it turns out, it’s not cut and dried, and as with all unhealthy and conflicting relationships, there is a perpetrator and a victim—and it takes both sides to create this dynamic.
We are not born as one of these types of people, we are taught these traits, and oftentimes the learning starts at an early age. Two types of parenting have been marked in multiple studies for creating bullies: authoritarian and permissive, while rejecting/neglecting parenting often leads to raising victim types.
Authoritarian: The “because I say so!” approach, or requiring children to obey authority without question.
When a child is raised in home where they feel they have no power and no voice, they will seek this power outside of the home. Because they are being raised in a dictatorship, they will themselves become a dictator.
Permissive: The “I just want to be their best friend” parent.
This type of parenting generally has no rules and oftentimes the child will be abusive to the parent and any other caregiver who is in their lives. A child who is never taught right from wrong often has an underdeveloped sense of empathy and therefore will take on the bully role in social situations.
Rejecting/Neglecting: This type of parenting embraces an “hands off” approach.
There are no rules or guidelines for the child and often times they don’t develop a sense of self worth and they take on the victim role.
So you may be asking, what type of parenting is more balanced? I really have no idea—parenting is a “choose your own adventure,” but I will give some basic guidelines which have been proven to have positive results.
Be a parent—lead by example, not force. Create rules that are fair and just and that you yourself follow. Allow self-expression and respect the the individuality of your child; they are their own unique individual and they shouldn’t be expected to be just like you. Allow them space to be heard. Whether you agree or disagree is not the point—you can explain your reasoning after they explain theirs. They will often learn to emulate this when you have a point to explain.
More often than not, it seems the key to being a good role model and parent is being dedicated to breaking an unhealthy cycle, rewriting your story and making better choices.
Children are our future, let’s treat them as such.
Author: Joshua Onysko
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Noval Goya/Flickr