Parental Cyberbullying
June 4, 2009 · Posted in Bullying, Education, Parenting, Therapy · Permalink


There have always been self-righteous meddling parents. Parents who can’t believe that their child would ever do anything wrong.  Our modern technology has taken it to a new level. Parents in groups have reported receiving angry emails with complaints about their child.

Subject:  Sallie’s food issues!
“Your child mentioned the word diet at my house, what is going on in YOUR house that your 7 year old would be talking about food like that?”

Subject: Joey’s Party
“Joey  didn’t invite my Charlotte to her birthday party. I can’t believe you were so insensitive”

No birthday party had even been planned. The birthday wasn’t for another 2 months. The two girls had just had a typical five year-old fight culminating with the age old refrain, “You can’t come to my birthday party!”

There is a lot of focus on bullying these days and cyberbullying, specifically.  We do need to be concerned about our kids being bullied or being bullies, but maybe we need to look in the mirror first.

We know that when our children are hurt, we hurt. There is no way around that. But if we can contain, control and tolerate our vicarious pain then we can be much more helpful to our kids.  We can help them figure out how to solve the problem, sometimes by saying or doing something and sometimes by letting it go. If we act outraged when  our child reports a slight, we escalate their pain and the child’s sense of self-importance. If we actually send an email attacking another parent and child we are crossing boundaries, behaving rudely and inflating our self-importance.

Email is so wonderful but so dangerous. Tone can be misunderstood, text can be misinterpreted and messages can be copied to others, dragging other parents and teachers into a personal conflict with the click of a mouse. If we want our children to grow up being respectful of other people’s boundaries, which is no small task, then we have to model that behavior.

All the little fights, exclusions, and insults between children are part and parcel of growing up.  Tolerating social bruises is one of life’s big lessons.  So here’s your lesson.  Write your emails complaints about other people’s children and save them as a draft. Then press delete. If the problem is repetitive, or really serious, please call. Like in the olden days.

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  1. Liz
    June 5th, 2009 | 10:20 am

    Reading this reminds me of SO many times I sent an angry e-mail or text in impulse. Maybe drafting the message but not pushing ‘send’ will be enough — at least worth a try!!!

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