Here are five biblical ways parents can respond to bullying:
1. Don’t bully your children. This seems obvious but isn’t. Discipline your children in love. Do not discipline in anger – this comes off as bullying.
2. Protect your children when they are bullied. Don’t assume it’s a phase and everyone goes through it. If you can’t assure their safety, change their school setting. Talk to your child so that you are sure you are aware of what is going on in their lives. Be aware: It is common for a victim to resist telling parents out of shame.
God makes sure our challenges are endurable. Thus parents must do the same: God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able; but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
3. Teach your children to verbally resist. Teach your child to use firm and loud language, make eye contact with a bully, and stand up straight. While Jesus was gentle, He defended Himself verbally during His trial. (John 18:23)
4. Help children achieve in ways that give them self-assurance. Children need to know they have innate worth as a child of God. They also need to develop real-world skills and competencies. Competence in a sport or physical skill is important for a child. Learning self-defense is permissible but be careful! Self-protection is biblical (Exodus 22:2), but using one’s karate to settle an argument is not.
5. Help your children defend the weak and come to the defense of others. 1 Thessalonians 5:14: “Now we urge you brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” When the woman who anointed Jesus’s feet was criticized by the disciples, Jesus defended her. (John 12:7)
When Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek” he was talking to adult disciples, and the context was not related to life-threatening harm or injury. I don’t believe we should expect children to submit to bullying. Tolerating this harms both the bullied and the bully.
What are you teaching your children about bullying?
God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able;
but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also,
so that you will be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
By James D. Dempsey, Ph.D.
Husband to Gail, Father of three
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Presenter for The National Center For Biblical Parenting
Author of Parenting Unchained, and host of the radio show by the same name at www.LOTOradio.com
Parenting Unchained by Jim Dempsey, PhD.