Your family is supposed to be your safe haven, and where you go for support and protection. Unfortuatly, that isn’t always the case What do you do when the bully is family?
Whenever families gather together, especially during holidays, there can be a lot of stress involved when there is always “one person” who bullies others. Often others ignore or accept the bulling, saying, “oh, they’re just old” or that is the way they have always been.
Allowing this type of behavior in a family doesn’t just hurt the person who is being bullied. It’s teaching the younger people in the family that bullying is OK.
The most important thing to do when you see bullying happening in a family situation is to put a stop it it. Immediately. Bullying is never ok. Not by someone in your family. Not even if its by someone you love. Even if you are the only person to stand up to the bully, let them know that bullying is not ok. Ask for support from other family members, as well. If the group as a whole lets it be know that bullying is unacceptable, then it will stop. This quote from Carolyn Hax puts it perfectly:
When I was a kid, whenever the new school year came around, therefore time for new school clothes, I could count on one family member to say, “Time to call Omar The Tent Maker to get clothes that will fit her”. Every year, I was crushed and even more crushed when no one stood up for me and told him to stop. All I wanted was for ONE PERSON to stand up for me. So, when you all gather for the Holidays and Grandpa sees your cousin and says, “Hey, Joe- you’re looking pretty round. Gained a bit of weight there, Porky?” You need to say, “Gramps, that’s not ok. Don’t talk to him like that.” And when Gramps looks around the room, laughing and says, “Oh,I’m just kidding- don’t take things so seriously”, look at him straight in the eye and say, “I always take bullying seriously. It’s not funny”. Most likely, there will be some kickback, but stand your ground. If you have to leave the room, leave. Make it clear that bullying has no place in your family gatherings. It’s time to set the example for your family that bullying may have been part of it in the past, but it will not be part of the future. There is strength in numbers. Talk to other family members and ask them to back you up.
A bully only bullies as long as they are allowed. let them know it’s not acceptable in your family.