There’s bullying at my daughter’s elementary school
Q: When my 11-year-old daughter cried and begged to miss school, I learned that her close friend is being bullied by three of their classmates.
My daughter saw them surround her friend at recess. One pulled off her hair band, another tossed it into the dirt, while the third one mussed her hair.
My daughter said she ran inside to the bathroom, terrified.
Her friend dresses “girlie,” wearing skirts and shoes with sparkles, etc. The “bullies” wear jeans and boots.
My daughter fears that they’ll target her next.
I said she should tell the principal and the bullies won’t know who reported them. Since I didn’t see any bullying, I didn’t think my reporting would be effective.
A: Bullying must be addressed by the adults within the entire school community. Parents, teachers, education administrators, and police have a duty to keep kids safe from bullies in school and outside it.
You should report it to the school principal to start the record, and email/phone the parent list regarding bullying, to meet within days.
Even a few incidents matter, because when a bully gets away with it, their power increases.
Send a meeting report including all bully incidents discussed, to your school district’s director of education. Insist on their taking action now, not later.
If you don’t leap into action to protect your child, who else will?
Q: I’ve had three serious concussions, yet was repeatedly mistreated by my family’s pressure that I still do everything they expect of me.
I was forced to take psychiatric drugs which made me want to die.
I became very fearful of doctors and very angry at my husband and daughter who authorized forcing those psychiatric meds on me.
I’ve since greatly reduced my medications (informing my family doctor whom I trust).
I’ve mostly recovered and made positive changes. I meditate, exercise, enjoy my work.
But my family (husband, daughter, brother and sister) can’t see the internal damage I suffered or that I no longer can handle “everything.”
I try to help them but they have their own mental health issues they won’t see/address.
I was always their “rock” and now I need them to help me stay healthy. Instead, they depend on me, push me too hard and I break down and get sick.
If this pressure doesn’t stop, I’ll end the marriage and walk away from all of them.
There are some pros to staying (husband tries sometimes) but the negatives are too much.
I’m trying to see a therapist but still distrustful. Walking out may be the only way I can have “peace.” I’m 60 and fighting for my life.
How do I stay and help family with their mess when they’re so destructive to my mental health?
Wronged by my Family
A: Stay focused on the positives you’ve achieved. Ask your family doctor to refer you to a therapist who doesn’t prescribe drugs. You’re already on a helpful treatment regime.
In counselling, discuss why getting angry at family harms you more than them. When they expect too much from you, you know the stress is unhealthy for you. So, don’t deliver.
Instead, provide them with names of other therapists (not yours), and let them find their own path.
Meanwhile, in your own therapy, consider what your life will look like if you leave on your own. A month’s “break” may be the best test … or maybe just disengaging will ease the pressure.
Meanwhile, start counselling before making any dramatic changes.
Ellie’s Tip of the Day
Schoolyard bullies must be stopped by all the adults responsible for safe schools.
Ellie Tesher is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: el[email protected]