As I listened to my son narrate his encounter with the bully from school, I tried to contain my emotion. I didn’t want him to know how much this story upset me. If I followed my maternal instinct and showed tears, he would be even more bothered by the situation.
I know that these types of things happen to kids. I was picked on as a child. My husband was harassed by the bigger kids. But I was hoping that my son would move past kindergarten before he had to deal with this type of behavior.
However, I’ve learned that children model the conduct that they see. And this kid was no different. He was imitating talk he had seen either from a parent, another adult, or possibly even another child.
I was at a loss for how to instruct my child when I remembered the following verse from Proverbs 31.
“She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26 NASB)
My first inclination was not to show kindness, but to have my son identify his peer and wring the kid’s neck. But I know that repaying evil for evil is not the type of reaction I want my son to see, nor does it reflect attitude of Jesus.
So I went to Him in prayer. I laid out my heart before Him, seeking the words that I lacked. For His ways are not my ways, nor are His thoughts my thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8)
What I realized was this.
When the voices of my child’s peers tell him he is “less than,” the words of his Creator must become louder.
I tell him he is God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) I tell him he is the apple of God’s eye. (Psalm 17) I tell him that he was created in his Father’s image, and that He isn’t finished with him yet.
And then, after instilling all of these thoughts God has toward him into his brain, my husband and I gave him advice on phrases he can say in return. Words which say, “your name calling doesn’t bother me.”
As we instructed our five-year-old, I realized that I was more bothered by the incident than he was. He is my heart, and I want so much to protect him from every force which threatens to steal his innocence. From every kid who is seeking the attention and love he lacks. From every bully and name caller.
He knows that if this kid continues to harass him, his dad and I will intervene. So far we haven’t had to do so.
Despite all my effort to protect my child, I know I must continually give him over to God. He was never mine. In the time I have with him, I will keep the words from Proverbs before me, being faithful to instruct, show kindness and love.
I will be the mother who shows her child that our attitude should not reflect those around us, but the One who created us.