One of my hopes for K is that he will be a man who can stand on his own two feet. Of course, the expression “stand on your own two feet” excludes the fact that we need God in order to stand. The scripture says in John 15:5 “apart from me, you can do nothing.” However, what I mean is I hope that K will be a leader and not a follower; will defend those who cannot defend themselves; and will not be affected by the antics of a bully.
Now, I am not naïve in that I don’t believe K will ever be teased. It is my prayer that he will not be bullied or teased, but I remember grade school. Kids can be cruel. They will make fun of anything from your clothes to your hair. I’m pretty certain that K will be teased as a child at some point, but it is my prayer that he is able to endure.
It breaks my heart when I read about teenagers who commit suicide because of a bully. It saddens me because those children did not have the ability to see past their present situation to the future that God had for them. They couldn’t see the impermanence of grade school. As I am seeking God about parenting, I am learning that it’s our duty to teach K these lessons. It’s our duty as parents to point our children to the future that they have in Christ if they endure hardship. After all, doesn’t our Heavenly Father teach us of the life to come and send us the Holy Spirit to help keep our minds on heavenly things? In the same way, as parents, we have to keep reminding our children of their future and we have to teach them how to persevere and endure in order to reach it.
Hebrews is a great epistle for teaching this lesson. Of course, you’re going to have to put it in terms that your child can understand, but it contains great lessons on perseverance and enduring persecution.
Hebrews 10:32-35 (NIV) says, “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”
Wow, what a powerful statement! This scripture not only teaches us that we will be persecuted, but it teaches us to stand by others when they’re persecuted. What a lesson to teach our children! We can let them know that they will be persecuted because they are different. They belong to Christ. But, there is a reward if they endure. I think one of the reasons why some children and teens commit suicide is because they think that there is something wrong with them if they’re targeted by a bully. They weren’t prepared. We have to prepare and equip our children for a bully. We have to let them know they will be targeted just as our beloved Savior, but we have to explain to them the reasons why (without being overly spiritual) and we have to let them know that there is a reward if they endure. As parents, we can reward them in the natural with privileges, gifts, etc., and we can teach them of the spiritual rewards. The rewards are being identified as a child of God (for being a peacemaker), courage in the face of adversity, the respect of their peers for standing up to a bully, confidence and so many more.
I also love this scripture because it teaches us to stand with those who are being oppressed or bullied. I know that our instincts tell us to teach our children to “stay out of it” when another child is being bullied, but the scripture teaches us that we should stand with them. Wow! Imagine the witness for Christ we could have in the schools if our children stood with those who are bullied? Our children would take the power away from bullies. I know that I’m going to let K know that there is a blessing in standing with those who are oppressed and cannot speak for themselves. Of course, we can’t just teach K this lesson, we have to model it! Mommy and Daddy have to stand with those who are oppressed themselves.
Use the Story of Moses
Another great scripture in Hebrews that reinforces this lesson is 11:24-26. It talks about Moses.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (NIV).
Once again, the scripture reinforces standing with those who are oppressed and the rewards to come. We can teach our children about how Moses could have shrunk back and stayed in Pharaoh’s house to dodge persecution or bullying, but he chose to stand with his people despite opposition because he knew that he’d receive a greater reward. Wow! K is only 17 weeks old, but I’m definitely marking this in my Bible to teach him later.
I don’t think that parenting and modeling Christ-like behavior for our children is easy, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit will equip us to do these things.
There are many other scriptures that we can use to teach our children about bullying from a biblical perspective. These are a great start. The main lesson for us is that we have to prepare and equip our children so that they will have the tools they need in order to stand firm and endure.