- Are you raising a bully?We all have the potential to be unpleasant, domineering, selfish, unkind, and spiteful and show aggression at one time or another. If we’re honest, we’ve all had moments we’re not proud of.
But what about when it’s more than a lapse of emotional self-control and it becomes ‘bullying’?
Are bullies made, or born?I’ve recently read a brilliant and thought-provoking book, ‘The Freedom Project’ by Pat Craven. Pat shares valuable knowledge and insight into her theories that bullying tendencies are formed in childhood, driven by the experiences and behaviours men witness as young children (both intentional and unintentional).The harsh truth ladies, is that many of us are unwittingly endorsing bullying stereotypes by the way we over-mother our sons.The book points out that male bullies share common beliefs that their aggressive, domineering and demanding behaviour is acceptable, and if anyone else has a problem with that, it is entirely their choice (aka fault).So where are we as ‘caring’ mothers getting the balance wrong?
We naturally mother all males, young and old, our offspring or otherwise, we can’t help it, it’s part of our inherent programming to nurture the male of the species.We need to pay a bit more attention to the messages we are passing on, myself included. A few weeks ago, my young son spilt his orange juice on the floor and looked expectantly at me to clear it up. And he was right! My automatic response was to clear it up for him!A few days later as we returned home from doing the weekly food shop, he got out of the car, walked through the door and plonked himself on the sofa, whilst I shuttled backwards and forwards with the shopping bags. Now, before reading ‘the Freedom Project’, I wouldn’t have given that a second thought, or if I had, it would have been to make a jokey remark about it to him. But on that day, it dawned on me that unless I made a point of stopping this now, I would be re-enforcing an impression of the role of women that I don’t want my son to have. I don’t want him to grow-up programmed to expect all females to run around after him because such an attitude can become one of the foundation blocks of normalising bullying behaviour towards women.Needless to say, that night, I put together a list of common beliefs boys can grow up with:
It starts with:
- It‘s a women’s responsibility to care for children and run the home.
- Men are better than women.
- Men need to control women for their own protection).
- It’s acceptable to belittle women.
- It’s acceptable to call women names and make jokes about women.
- It’s acceptable to tell a woman that she is too sensitive, is over-reacting and can’t take a joke.
It can lead to a belief that:
- Men own women.
- Violence towards women is acceptable.It may sound dramatic to imply that just because you don’t ask your young son to carry a bag of shopping, you risk turning him into a wife-beater, but the point is that we, as Mother’s, have different expectations of boys than we do of girls and that’s where the male sense of superiority comes from.So I’m going to leave you with a thought, if it had been my daughter that had spilt the drink, or left me to carry all the shopping, would we be having this conversation?
Tomorrow, I’ll explore ten ways in which we can stop our sons adopting a negative attitude towards women (and be even more caring and brilliant Mums).