We as parents fight for our children’s rights furiously when we think our kid is being bullied. We head straight to the teacher or school principal at the very thought. We advise our children to stand up for themselves and their friends when dealing with bully-type situations.
But what do we do when we encounter bullying as adults? What exactly do we do when we see an adult bullying another adult?
I am 42 years old, a mom of two, and an entrepreneur. I escaped major childhood bullying growing up, but as of late, I’ve had to deal with it as an adult, and it’s been just awful.
Seems ridiculous that an adult would bully another adult, but this does happen, and some bullies are mothers. They roam PTA meetings, hockey practices, mommy-and-me play groups, and are at school pick-up and drop-off.
Yet, instead of using physical aggression or name-calling, as children might, they exert their bullying in other forms: alienation of other moms, rude behavior, dirty looks, spreading rumors, gossip, and parent-shaming.
Being bullied by another mother can be unnerving. Adults are supposed to be mature, not lower themselves to petty and childish behavior. Being bullied by a mom can throw you off guard, make you want to scream; it can be stressful, emotionally exhausting and occupy your daily thoughts.
I felt all this and more when I dealt with a mom bully recently. Bully mom concocted some twisted rumors about my parenting and my child, which she felt the need to spread to other parents within the school community, all in an effort to alienate me and my family.
Weeks into a new school semester, I noticed I was getting odd looks around the playground from other parents. Acquaintances began to avoid me. I was even getting dirty looks from some moms. There were parents who stopped planning playdates with my children. Some people within the school community who stopped liking or commenting on my social media pages. I began to see that I was purposely being alienated from mom group messages and gatherings.
When some parents alerted me to what was being said, I was mortified. I stopped volunteering at my kid’s school and attending community events. I was tired of all the stares, drama, embarrassment, awkward conversations and false judgement. I was tired of bully mom and her friends who constantly gave me dirty looks and made rude comments whenever I passed by.
Why would anyone do this? I hopped on the Internet to do some research and realized this was a case of adult bullying.
After a while, I decided to drop the hiding act and began volunteering at the school again. I planted a smile on my face and walked with my head held high in and around the community. Despite the rumors and gossip, I knew I had done nothing wrong. It was time to move on, however, the only way I could do this was to get over the ordeal myself. I needed to stop caring about what bully mom, or anyone that believed her ridiculous stories, thought of me or my family.
Are you being bullied by another mom? Here are five things that helped me.
1. Why, oh why?
Coming to terms as to why you are a target of a mom bully is the first step. Truth is, an adult bully has sought you out because they are jealous of you and unhappy with their own lives. Most targets tend to be nice people who are quite popular. Whether you have a family life, relationship, job, or mom squad they admire, mom bullies are unhappy and simply want you to be unhappy, too. #ItsNotYouItsThem
2. Have sympathy.
It is natural to feel anger and resentment towards your mom bully. However, you should feel sorry for them. While they put on a show about how great life is on social media, they’ve most likely have had a rough go at. Research suggests that adult bullies lack self-esteem and confidence. The alienation, gossip, and rumors are done so that people will dislike you and the entire scenario makes them feel more popular and loved. The adult bully profile indicates that they too might have been bullied as children or bullies themselves that have grown up never truly learning how wrong their behaviour is.
Avoid and ignore mom bullies when you can. Every encounter for them is an opportunity to embarrass you, cause drama, or give them something talk about. They want to hurt you, so not giving them that chance sends a strong message that their bullying tactics have failed.
4. Social media.
If said mom is on your social media pages, delete them. This may not stop passive-aggressive, dramatic, or manipulative posts from them, but it stops you from seeing them and lets the bully know that you are ignoring their childish antics.
5. Gravitate toward good people.
The hardest part about this situation is not only getting bullied by the mom in question, but the secondary bullying that trickles down from others who are too afraid to stand up to the mom bully; parents who use the same bully tactics she does to show her “support.” Sadly, I lost so-called friends and acquaintances along the way. However, once I stopped focusing on losing these shallow relationships, I looked around and realized there were many great parents who stayed in my circle and didn’t follow the mom bully. Adults with solid values and amazing children. People who didn’t care about what had been said and judged me based on their own opinions.
If you are being bullied by a mom, know you are not alone. It will take time to get over the hurt, embarrassment, and ridiculousness of the situation. However, in the end, life will go on.
And you will go on with it, feeling like a stronger, better person and parent.