Family Magazine

Cyberstalking: Parents Who Bully Their Kids

By Monicasmommusings @mom2natkatcj
Cyberstalking: Parents who Bully Their KidsThis is the final in the cyberstalking series.  You wouldn't ever think children would be the victim of bullying by their own parents, but it happens all of the time.  Even well intentioned parents inadvertently end up bullying their children on the internet.  It's a startling trend.
How could parents bully their own children?
Out of frustration with her child's behavior a mother writes something on her Facebook wall and calls her child a name.  Thinking it won't get back to her child of course forgetting that the internet is forever.
What's worse though is the parent who does it constantly.  Constantly picking on the actions of one child and comparing one to the other as if one is a perfect angel and one is the devil.  It is those kind of daily things that a child will eventually have no trouble finding.  And I'm not entirely sure that if it's being said on the internet that much worse isn't being said and done at home to the child.  We're supposed to be on our best behavior in public right?  Don't want other people to see us lose our cool?  So if on the internet all you ever do is say that 2 year old of mine is such an Asshole, then what's being said that we don't hear?
But I didn't mean it like that!
Hey listen, I feel you parents out there.  My oldest daughter turns 13 in just over a month.  My middle daughter turns 10 in a little less than a month.  I've got two girls full of hormones going haywire in my house right now and they will turn on you in a heartbeat.  And my husband can attest to this, my oldest daughter and I we can really go at it.  My husband wanted to strangle both of us a couple of weeks ago as we were arguing about school when we had the internet technician in our home fixing our internet.
In the moment I have said things to my daughter that I want to just hit the rewind and erase button on.  As soon as I say it and I see the look on my daughter's face I want to grab her and squeeze her and kiss her all over and say I'm so sorry.  And you know what's worse?  Those "I can't believe I said that" moments in parenting, she remembers and she remembers them very vividly and maybe a little exaggerated too in the heat of the moment when we fight.  All of the loving hugs and kisses I have spent years spreading all over her mean absolutely nothing to her when we're fighting.  I don't love her and I never say I love her and I don't do this to her sister, but only to her because I hate her.  That is what she remembers when she's mad at me.
I couldn't imagine if I was putting it on the internet too.  And if the world sees that I think my preteen is a monster, then how can I expect the world to view my child?  The world is going to say my God, this child's mother can't stand her own child she must be the devil incarnate.  I don't want my children viewed that way by family and friends let alone strangers.  For the record I absolutely do not think any of my children are monsters, I really do have the best kids in the world, but they are human and they do make mistakes just like me.
When the words slip out in the heat of the moment with your child, while you can't rewind and erase you can fix that.  You can sit down and talk it out once everyone has calmed down and is thinking rationally.  When you put the words on the internet in the heat of the moment you might be able to erase it, but it probably isn't gone forever.  Someone saw it and someone shared it.  Somewhere it's cached.  Somehow your child will see that and won't realize that you called him an Asshole because you were angry and frustrated that he smeared your favorite lipstick all over the brand new white carpet.  Chances are by the time it's found you won't even remember why you called him an Asshole so how do you talk that out?  You can't, you have no basis for why you did it other then you must have been really frustrated with him.  But your child's self esteem is at stake here and you are supposed to be building him up not tearing him down.
How do you avoid tearing your children down on the internet?
This is a tough thing for mom bloggers especially.  We are trying to share things with people to have them learn from our experiences or just to commiserate with them about raising children.  We want to be honest with our readers, but at the same time we need to realize some of these stories aren't ours to tell.  So what's a gal to do?
  • Think before you type.  Ask yourself is it more important that I help other people deal with things or is it more important that I help my child.
  • Think while you are typing.  Is this just an angry gotta get this off my chest post that later will bite me in the butt?
  • Think after you type.  Read what you wrote and think again isn't it just good enough that I got those feelings out there?  Do people really need to read what I say?
That's the thing with writing on the internet.  You have so many times to stop and think is this really worth it?  Are the page views really worth my child's self esteem?  If you can still post something so cruel about your child on the internet after thinking before, during, and after you type it out, then you might have much larger problems that you need to deal with in your relationship with your children.  And remember, what you think of as sarcastic or tongue and cheek might not come off that way to your readers and probably won't come off that way to your child 5-10 years down the road.
By the way, even if you aren't a blogger you have all of these options on social media sites or message boards even.  This is your chance to say the words, rewind, and erase just make sure you don't hit submit before you rewind and erase!
The bottom line is the internet is forever.  Even if a million people are like yeah that was a real bonehead Asshole sort of move, this is your child!  He's probably not going to get where you were coming from for many years to come when he has his own children.  You know what?  I don't know that even then he would get where you were coming from to put it on the internet like that.  Publicly especially, we should be our children's biggest cheer leader.
This doesn't mean we can't share the bad things with people, just in a more positive way.  Maybe when we've cooled down and aren't so angry about it and can even laugh about it.  Like my 4 year old dumped an entire bottle of cinnamon all over his bedroom yesterday.  I was furious at him as I was trying to clean up the tiny grains of cinnamon from his floor and out of every nook and cranny he found to dump it in.  Because he couldn't just make a nice mountain of cinnamon, it had to be sprinkled everywhere.  When all was said and done though I could say well my garbage smells nice now and so does his room.  I know he wasn't being come conniving little being.  It's cinnamon.  He likes cinnamon and for whatever reason he wanted his bedroom sprinkled in cinnamon.  I wish a whole brand new bottle of cinnamon wasn't in my garbage can, but I don't think this will lead to him knocking over liquor stores in the future either.
Will you be more careful with what you say on the internet about your children now?  Now that you know someday they could find it?
If you haven't done so already you can read the rest of the pieces in the Cyberstalking series:
Cyberstalking: One Mom's Story 
Cyberstalking: A Mother's Story About her Son

Cyberstalking: What do Trolls Got to do With This?

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