Google+ Authentic Parenting: The World Is Full Of Bullies... So Conform! And Quick!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The World Is Full Of Bullies... So Conform! And Quick!

I have been talking a lot about physical integrity and gender lately. On here and on my Facebook page (If you're not on there yet, come join, there's a lot of activity and debate). I strongly believe that a child's appearance is theirs and theirs alone, and I believe it is a healthy turf to experiment with. I also believe that mainstream culture tends to meddle too much when it comes to gender and we should try to strip gender stereotyping from our vocabulary.

Every time I raise these questions, however, I get at least one response that sounds something like: What about bullying?

So here, I'll finally answer what I think about bullying.

Bullying is certainly real. I have had to deal with it to it for much of my life, until I went to university. So I know what it is and I know how little you can do to stop it from happening. I also know that it can happen to everyone who falls out of the norm (wether it is for physical appearance or for mental state, or convictions), but it especially happens to kids who are insecure. And it's those insecure kids who have most trouble to deal with bullying.

Oana Hogrefe Photography
Children who have not been forced into acting or looking like something they're not, who have had the freedom to explore their bodies and their minds, within the safety and unconditionality of their homes are not insecure. They may make different choices than the average kid, they may look differently, but they do it because they are true to themselves, not to fit in or fit out, so they are generally able to take the consequences.
Yes, they may get negative reactions. But if they are not even safe to express themselves and find themselves at home, where do you suggest they will? In therapy when they are in their thirties?

Bullying often starts at home, as gruesome a reality as this may seem, by the parents. In the so-called bully argument is the hidden statement that they too do not accept their child's otherness. Otherwise they wouldn't be worried.
If parents would embrace their child, no matter what it looks like or aspires to, they would not worry about the reactions of the outer world. They would offer the structure to endure those reactions.

Children who have been 'allowed' to be authentic to their emotions are generally very sensitive too. If it is their aim to fit in, they will adapt, if not, they will seek different company.

Oana Hogrefe Photography
And then a last point on the matter: we are unschoolers. The bullying question is not really an issue, lest I do the bullying myself, which I try not too. The bully culture is indeed created by the specific nature of schools. This does not mean that my child does not deal with reactions from the world outside of our family, and they are indeed sometimes negative. But she deals with them (mostly by laughing them off) and if she cannot, she comes to me for guidance.



  1. Oh, you are so right. Perhaps you'd enjoy this story from my hometown of Toronto about parents who are keeping their child's gender a secret to avoid gender-stereotypes. It is fascinating, but unfortunately the public reaction is SO NEGATIVE.

    It's hard to Parent for a Peaceful World, isn't it?

    For Freedom and Joy, Patti

  2. funny you should mention this, but this article (and a couple other things) is actually the reason I wrote this article

  3. Thank you so much for saying this.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this - this is the principal argument used by my family (parents) against unschooling our children - "I'm so afraid they'll get made fun of".


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