The Tale of the Bully | Job Switch | Stupidly Determined

The Tale of the Bully

Dear Micah,

What do you think I should do about a bully situation at my son’s school?  He is getting picked on and it’s a problem.  With all in the news right now about that poor boy that killed himself it’s made me afraid.  My son doesn’t talk about it much and tries to downplay it, but I am pretty sure he’s still getting bullied.



Dear J,

If your son is still in the same school as he was when the bullying began, then it is probably still going on.  Bullying doesn’t usually just end without some detailed action taking place, like switching schools–and that doesn’t always work now that things like Facebook can allow old schoolmates to contact new ones.  Just because your son isn’t talking about it doesn’t mean it’s not still torturing him.

In fact, I think you have a right to be more worried since he’s stopped talking to you about it because that probably means it has progressed to a point that is either too embarrassing or too terrifying for him to admit.  No child wants their parents to think that they aren’t well-liked, and no child wants their parents to see or hear the awful things that are said about them.  Consider yourself lucky that your child ever confided in you at all, because that has alerted you to be on the lookout for continued harassment.

Inevitably, many children will reach a point where they no longer tell their parents about the abuse they take at school and that usually begins around puberty.  Puberty changes everything.  For a boy, puberty is the most awkward and confusing time of his life.  His body is changing, his voice is changing, and he is physically developing into a man.  Our society doesn’t look favorably on men as victims.  Once puberty sets in, your son will stop at nothing to hide his harassment from you because society will typically blame him for being a “weak” man and not defending himself.

Isn’t that the first thought that runs through our heads whenever we hear of someone, particularly a boy, being bullied?  “Why doesn’t he fight back?”  Even on television the answer is so simple–retaliation.  Remember when little Opie Taylor was picked on by that bully that demanded a nickel everyday?  Or that kid that kept calling Peter Brady a “chicken”?  The answers were simple: both boys solved their torment with retaliation.  A single punch to their tormentor’s nose solved the problem and their bully never bothered them again.

The real world isn’t that easy.  One bully is easily handled by the child or the school or the parent.  There is never just one bully.  Bullies find their power in a group.  Your son is tormented by many people–not just one–and those who aren’t bullying him are too scared to speak up for him, for fear that they may place a target on their own backs.  So, for a bullied child, there is no safe place.  Everyone is participating in his torment, either directly or by quiet observation.  You are 100% right to assume that the bullying is still going on.   I would bet $1000 that it is.

I’ll tell you how I’d try to handle things if it were my child and you can take what you want from it.  If my son were behaving in a way that made me think he was being harassed (withdrawn, depressed, lack of friends or activities), I’d do my best to make him tell me the truth so that I could know what I was up against, even if he was embarrassed to talk about it.  I know that if I have any hope of getting the school on my side, I have to be armed with some proof that bullying is taking place.  If my son remained mum and pretended that everything is all right, I’d contact some parents of other students at his school that I can trust.  I’d ask them to pry a little with their children and find out what the other kids are saying or doing.  If I could get someone to squeal and let me know what’s happening, then I’d have examples to take to the principal.

To be honest, there isn’t a lot that the principal, or even the school board, can do to stop the harassment completely.  There are way more students than teachers and administrators, so unless a person is lucky enough to have a school that takes a very strong stance against bullying, there aren’t good odds of stopping it–but it’s worth a try.  Once I knew which students were the primary bullies, I’d request that the school bring myself together in a meeting with these bullies’ parents.  I’d remain calm and collected during this meeting.  Going into it angry and accusatory is not going to help get them on my side.  I wouldn’t blame the parents for their kids’ behaviors either.

In many cases, the parents of a bully could be lovely people who believe that their son is treating others with dignity and respect.  I would simply explain what was happening to my child and I’d tell them about their child’s participation in the harassment, and I’d ask them to speak to their child and put an end to my child’s torment.  I would also understand that this probably won’t solve anything.  No parent likes to be told that their child is cruel, and even if they believed me and spoke to their child, that child could step up their harassment rather than end it.

This whole pointless step would be taken so that I could  always be certain that I tried to reason with these people and solve the problem rationally.  Perhaps it would solve everything, but if it didn’t, I would understand that my next step would be removing my child from this environment on the very next day if the harassment continues.  I would want my child to understand that Dad is NOT going to keep sending him into Hell.  If his daily life at school is torturing him, then he doesn’t have to go back anymore.  What would be the point?  He isn’t learning anything anyway–he’s too busy dodging harassment.  My priority would become getting him into a new school where he could start fresh.  Even if I had to sell or rent out my house and take an apartment in a different school district to do it, nothing would be more important than his well being.

IF the harassment followed him to the new school, I’d pull him out all together and find some way to homeschool him.  If I couldn’t do it myself, I’d try to find someone who could.  The most important gift we can give our kids is a happy childhood.  Childhood is the time when they develop into the men and women that they are going to be.  We owe them a peaceful environment to do it in.  Try your best to make these years easier for him and remove your son from his tormentors.


Job Switch

Dear Micah,

I want a career change after 20 plus years of doing the same thing.  Problem is to quit my current job and start all over is going to drastically change our family’s lives.  Kids may have to go to public school instead of private, wife may have to carry a lot of the financial weight till I get established in something new.  I realize it’ll be a hardship but I think it’ll be worth it later down the road when Dad’s happier every day.  No one else agrees with me though.  Thought I’d give you a shot even though I bet you won’t side with me.



Dear Ash,

Your new career could be as a psychic because you totally foresaw my reply!  I don’t side with you.  You are being selfish and shortsighted.  If you were a single guy I’d say go for it, but you’re not.  You made a commitment to your family that you cannot responsibly breach.  The moment you and your wife decided to have kids, you both also committed to giving them the best life possible–even if that meant sacrificing some of your own wants and needs.  If your kids are established in schools that they love with friends that they love and share their lives with, it would be terribly traumatic to remove them from their world just so you could be happier each day.

What if your kids’ new school doesn’t provide the same level of education or safety?  What if they have a hard time making new friends?  You’re talking about wiping away everyone they have a history with and have shared experiences with, just so that you can be happier.  Switching schools will force them to have to dive into a new environment where they have no connections and hope that someone invites them into their lives to join their already established circle of friends.  It’s a hard thing for a kid to go through.

I could sympathize if you had to do this because you’d lost your job or had no other choice, but you do have a choice.  Why force them to go through that if it isn’t necessary?  The same goes for your wife.  Why shoulder her with the lion’s share of the financial burden when she has never had to carry that heavy a load before?  Now, I’m not saying that you don’t count and that you can’t have your wish granted, but your desire for a new career can wait a few years.  This isn’t the proper time.  Wait until your kids are at a place where a change won’t be so traumatic.  Perhaps wait until they are about to switch to a new middle school or high school or graduate altogether.  It may just be a short while before your children will be at a more adaptable age.  Wait until then to make a change.  Once it’s just you and your wife in the household, you’ll be free to do anything that you want.  Good parenting means you put your children’s well being first.  Before you cause a lot of upheaval in the lives of your family, make sure everyone will benefit from it, not just you.


Stupidly Determined

Dear Micah,

My boyfriend and I argue a lot but we do love each other.  He wants to get married and I do too.  My problem is that no one else thinks we should.  But they don’t know anything about how our relationship works because they aren’t in it.  I know what our problems are and I still want to marry him.  Shouldn’t that be enough?  Tell me how to get support out of the naysayers?



Dear Corinna,

I say you two should run out and get married right away.  Don’t wait and don’t listen to anybody else’s opinions.  I don’t know when I’ve heard of two people more right for each other.  You’re practically star-crossed!

PS:  You are an idiot.

If you have a question for Micah, please email him at  your question may be featured in an upcoming article.

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