6 Lessons to remember when your child is bullied

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 (New Living Translation)

In my last post I promised to write out the lessons we learned about bullying. There are two types: One from Kat’s perspective (teenager) and one from mine (parent).

I’m breaking them out and giving our bully the nickname “Brutus” for easier reading and because I still love him.

Lessons Kat Learned

Don’t put too much trust in your friends – We all crave family in one way or another and research shows that teens value the opinions of their friends and peer groups above all else. Kat put all her energy into one group of friends and Brutus was her bestie. He’s also the most popular, so when their friendship crumbled . . .

Teens are apt to choose sides, much like adults do when close friends divorce. Making friends in multiple areas of life is essential for helping teens get through relationship adversity.

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Forgive people when they make mistakes – Forgiveness isn’t only a biblical mandate, it’s a life skill . . . and it’s freaking hard! In this case Brutus was unwilling; he’d built up weeks of simmering anger. He’ll need to learn how to forgive an offense. Kat learned to forgive herself and others as Jesus does.

Pay attention to warning signs – In other words, trust your gut! God gave us powerful instincts. Kat knew something was “off.” She noticed Brutus’ behavior change and repeatedly asked him if something was wrong. He denied it so she decided to trust his word despite contrary evidence.

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Lessons I learned (not including my husband because he just wanted to beat everyone up).

Be available – Like most parents, I’m busy. But years ago my other daughter endured a bullying attack so severe it landed her in the psychiatric ward of our local hospital. When you see your teen suffering or notice a drastic change in their behavior, drop everything. Be available day or night and seek a professional for help.

Listen and don’t judge – Although angry with Brutus, I leaned on Jesus. Who better to lean on than the one who forgives us all? I turned to him in prayer, trust and faith that he knows more than I do and would work it out because he loves all of us.

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Mother and mentor – Teens often don’t listen to parental advice despite our best effort. In this case we met with a trusted mentor who knows both kids well. This amazing woman validated all I’d said to Kat in our tearful late-night chats. That felt great!

She ministered to her which allowed me to step back from the situation. She comforted and encouraged Kat to endure through the trial as a strengthening experience. I can’t say enough about making sure your kids have Godly mentors in their lives.

Your turn: I’d love to hear any bullying advice you can give!

Love and lies: Have you gotten sucked into a gossip triangle?

Three weeks ago, my 17-year old daughter was the object of a severe bullying attack by several of her best friends.

She considers these kids her family and so do we. We love them like family, minister to them when the need arises and eat hundreds of pizzas.

They are all Christians doing ministry together.

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My beautiful girl (in blue) doing what she loves the most! None of these kids are involved in the situation.

Have you ever been hurt by people you’ve shared everything with?

If so, you know the pain and suffering she’s enduring – WE are enduring. When one member of God’s family hurts, we all do.

Gossip is an age-old problem and our situation began with an “innocent lie” (no such thing) between a guy and girl. My daughter took part in the lie in a misguided attempt to spare someone’s feelings. Then someone lied to another person, and the offended party learned about it through gossip.

It was the spark that lit a wildfire of lies, accusations and slander. Despite her confession and begging forgiveness, her name and reputation is ruined (for now).

According to the Bible, gossip is a sin and causes all kinds of strife. In fact the Apostle Paul writes about it in his letter to the Corinthians. He says, “For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorderly behavior.” 2 Corinthians 12:20

She got caught up in the middle of a gossip triangle that sucked her in and spiraled out of control.

The Gossip Triangle

Life is full of hard lessons and while attempts at forgiveness and restoration are finally being made, the damage is permanent.

Yesterday in my quiet time, I read from My Utmost For His Highest and the wisdom is a perfect fit. The author, Oswald Chambers says, “Jesus Christ never trusted human nature, yet He was never cynical nor suspicious, because He had absolute trust in what He could do for human nature.”

In my next post, I’ll write about the lessons we’ve learned from this fiasco. I hope it helps you keep your kids from being sucked into a gossip triangle.

With love and peace, Erika

Girlfriends, Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em: 5 Ways to be a great friend!

For women, friendships are the most important relationships we have. But too often I meet women who have very few (if any) strong female relationships. The reasons are many and varied. Have you heard any of these?

“I don’t get along with most women.”

“I’ve been stabbed in the back way too many times.”

“I have nothing in common with girly, ultra-feminine types.”

“Women are too shallow and catty.”

Why do you think this is?

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Today my daughter and I sat together on our porch; I was reading a book and she was scrolling through her phone. At one point she says, “Ugh. I feel sorry for the generation of women coming up.”

“How come?” I asked.

“I’m watching a fight between three girls on Instagram. Two 19-year olds and a 16-year old. The 16-year old – who has a baby by the way – says, ‘The joke’s on you bitches. I had sex with both your boyfriends.’ No one has self respect anymore.”

I thank God my daughter was disturbed by this, but I’ve seen similar rants from women my own age played out in social media. I think some of the fault lies with us. After all, it’s up to the older generations to teach the younger ones.

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Time and again I’ve preached about the value of having good girlfriends to my girls and oh have they tried! But they’ve been been let down and gotten caught up in the gossipy, back-stabbing, competitive girl culture common today.

They already feel like giving up.

As an older woman, I’m committed to training and teaching girls of the next generation. So here’s my attempt at giving advice when it comes to females. To be good friends we have to . . .

Listen. Listening is hard and takes practice – lots and lots of practice. The next time you’re out with a girlfriend, try not talking about yourself. Not even once. Focus solely on her.

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Pay Attention. We live such busy lives it’s hard not to focus on ourselves and our troubles, but when we do this we miss out on another person’s perspective. Her point of view can open up whole new worlds to us.

Celebrate. Our friends are special and deserve to be celebrated simply for who they are. Try buying flowers or a special gift for your bestie “just because.”

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Share. This is one of our first and most important life skills. We’re supposed to learn how to do it in preschool but it always bears repeating. Got an old skirt or piece of jewelry you don’t wear anymore? Try passing it along to a friend who doesn’t often get to shop for little luxuries.

Love. Jesus said it best: “…love your neighbor as yourself.“(Mark 12:33) Our girlfriends are our neighbors and our sisters in Christ. The best way to love one another is by spending quality time, meeting each others needs and treating one another kindly.

What a gift it is to love and be loved! What a better world we’d have if we invested as much time in one another as we do in our entertainment or work.

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What if our work on this earth is to love each other?

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus (John 15:13)