Posted by: johnhourihan | December 6, 2012

The worst form of bullying

How can we stop a bully if all those who might make a difference say, “I don’t want to get in the middle?”
First, in bullying there is no middle. There can only be a “middle” when there are two opposing forces.
Bullying is when, for no apparent reason,  one entity attacks another that doesn’t have the will or the ability to fight back.
It seems when bullying happens we should not stand on the sidelines with the self-serving and feeble argument of “I don’t want to get in the middle.”
So far, I don’t believe there is anyone in his or her right mind who would disagree with what I have said. We all seem to agree that bullies should be stopped.
Let’s go further.
When the word “bullying” is mentioned, we mostly picture a schoolyard bully who picks on a younger, smaller or more pacifistic classmate, but there are many other and more dangerous and harmful bullies who we don‘t usually think about – those who bully senior citizens.
The saddest of those  situations is when it is a child who chooses to bully a parent.
And even sadder is when other siblings and other family members, who believe the parent did nothing to deserve the treatment,  say they “don‘t want to get in the middle,” and continue to socialize with the bully in hopes they too won’t become a target.
I have been witnessing this situation for more than a decade.
About 13 years ago a young woman who had just given birth to her first born, turned on her mother. Seemingly for all the same reasons so many teenagers turn on their parents: “She made me do chores, She wouldn’t let me do what I wanted. She didn’t respect my privacy.”
Nothing  stronger has ever been given as a reason by anyone for the attack.
No one seems to have any idea why it is happening.
This young woman banned her mother first from holding the baby and then from visiting the child and her own daughter altogether.
The mother had no idea why this was happening.
There was no deep dark secret from the past that anyone in the family could think of.
No one was harassed or beaten. No one was tormented. And, beyond the usual helping hand from the oldest child, no extra considerations were asked.
The mother raised five children and took in 6 other foster children and cared for all of them in a loving and equal way.
This is not according to the mother. It is according to her other children.
Then the daughter became pregnant again, and again the mother was banned from seeing the children.
Family parties have to be held in shifts so the daughter would not have to see the mother and the mother would not be allowed to see her grandchildren or her daughter.
Others in the family have asked why. They all say they don’t get any real answer or that the answers are feeble and change from year to year.
But there is never anything worse than “She made me do more housework than the others,” or “She can be an energy vampire,” or “I think she manipulated me when I was young.”
Never has a real reason been heard.
The daughter then went a step further and banned the mother’s sister and her own grandmother and grandfather  from seeing the children and herself.
There are no accusations of beatings, sexual abuse, or torture, or lies.
There is only that the mother and father divorced when the young woman was about to get married, and it detracted from her shining moment in the sun.
There was also the day a short time before the first baby was born when the mother didn’t think it necessary to send her daughter a schedule of the times each day she would be available to baby sit, as was requested. She felt at the time that she had raised five children and helped six others herself and it was now her daughter’s turn to raise one.
I have watched in relative silence for more than a decade, feeling that it was not my position to interfere.
I did once point out that even legally a grandmother has a right to visit her grandchildren, but the grandmother would never take her own daughter to court. The grandmother will not even fight back. It would mean fighting her own daughter, which she could never do.
The grandmother is being bullied by her own daughter, and the family members, who all agree there is no valid reason for it, sit in frightened silence while year by year the grandmother is pummeled by her own daughter who has stolen Christmas, First Communion, Easter, Thanksgiving, soccer games, ballet lessons, karate lessons, birthdays, parades, and every other thing a grandparent is supposed to be able to enjoy with her grandchildren, not to mention with her own daughter.
And her own family sits by and watches the bully while making themselves feel better with the soothing salve of “I don’t want to get in the middle,” and, in seeming fear, they continue to socialize with the bully to avoid becoming the her next target..
Bullying is bullying.
It seems to me we all agree that we should stop bullies, and that those who can make a difference in the situation should speak up. Should say this has to stop. Should take a stand. Should in their own words,”get in the middle” and say enough is enough.
A mother should be able to see her own daughter or know the reasons why. A grandmother should be allowed to visit her own grandchildren or know the reason why. No one should be put through this type of bullying without a reason other than, you detracted from my wedding because you divorced daddy. But I may be  wrong. What do you think?



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