The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? -Psalm 27:1(NAB)Bullies Near and Far The term “bullying” is a buzz word in our culture. Whether it be the kid at school who is bothering your child and making him feel small or the neighbor who talks behind your back, bullies are present. Catholics, Christians, and people of all religions, non-religions and circles deal with them. They may be at your office, school or even in your circle of “friends.” It is not easy. Bullies can be near or far. We can find them on social media comments or posts, responses on blogs or other on-line venues, too. They can be very close or far away in a sense since we do so many things online or on our phones these days. Either way, the “difficult” people of the world are around. This is when we can look to simple verses of scripture and prayers to help us know that the Lord is with us in those times where we feel rejected or put-down by others. But what do we do when those bullies may even be in our home setting or in our extended families? When Bullies are Close at Hand Unfortunately, in some families bullying may happen even under our own rooftop between our children or with the extended family. Whether a discussion gone awry, snubbing, gossiping, or back-handed social-media comments, it does happen. As mothers, it can be hard to watch our children have strained relationships, but prayer and proper action is the key. By proper action, I am referring to reaching out to God for his help and following in the ways of virtue instead of vice. Prayer is essential! Whether the prayer is in the quiet of our hearts or the family Rosary, every bit of prayer helps to purify and bring us back to humility. Prayer brings us back to the love of Christ in our hearts. As Psalm 27 states: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” God is with us. During anger and during confusion, we can go back to the Lord with all our heart! Dealing with Bullying throughout Life Just as kids can learn through prayer and aspiring to virtue, we as adults can do the same in dealing with any kind of bullying situation. This may happen outside or inside our extended family circle. Since we live in a fallen world, we know that “perfect” relationships only exist in Heaven. In the meantime, we must continue with the Lord’s help to pray and know what to do when a situation occurs where we feel our personal dignity is not being honored. Here are some steps I think may help all of us when these kinds of things happen: Quick Tips in Dealing with a Family Bully
- Pray. This is first and foremost. Lift a short aspirational prayer to the Lord or to Our Lady for their help when you are feeling your personal dignity is not being honored.
- Wait. Don’t respond immediately when you feel something is going on when you feel someone is disrespecting you or bullying you. The action of the bully in their words is their vice, not yours. If you give them a moment to reflect without words, this may give them a chance to realize that what they said was wrong.
- If politics or even religion are their favorite topics of argument, don’t go there. Given the current national and local political "drama" in our culture, it's best to say as little as possible to someone with their own agenda and firm belief system. On another note, you won't win a debate with someone with addiction issues either, so don't try. God is with you.
- Don’t blame yourself! Sometimes our quietness and prayerful reflection does more good than trying to give our opinions. Some people don’t want any kind of convincing or opposition at all. They are looking for a reason to debate. Don’t let yourself be that person. Better to let it go and pray instead.
- Walk away or distract yourself. If the bully continues whether it be gossip, snubbing, back-handed compliments or insults, say as little as you must in challenging moments. Sometime a bully will even pull in people who are close to you, but stay strong. Say a prayer and maintain your dignity by distancing yourself from their behavior and actions. You don’t deserve to subject yourself to the negativity. The Lord loves you, and you deserve to be treated with personal dignity and respect.
- Limit future contact or just keep it basic. When a bully is close by, it may be best to limit conversations to basic things and keep it short. You are still being Christian even if you must limit time together. If they need you for emergencies or help, you will be there. But to keep your sanity and your dignity, limit time together. In God’s time you will be healed. The bully's healing is out of your hands aside from prayer. Lift prayers but concentrate on the goodness inside you. That goodness will grow. God will surprise you with the progress in your relationships even if you must wait years.
- Keep praying and don’t give up! Our God is a God of miracles and of healing. Even though as Catholics we believe in the purification of redemptive suffering, we can still live a happy life in the interim through God’s spirit and love.
Copyright 2018 Anne DeSantis
About the Author
Anne DeSantis is a Catholic wife and mother of two grown daughters. She has written for CatholicMom since 2016. She is the director for the St. Raymond Nonnatus Foundation, with outreach to families affected by divorce and separation. Anne is a 55+ model/actress and the Host of the on-line TV show "The Positive Side on RVNTV." Learn more about her work at AnneDeSantis.com.