Teaching Our Children to Handle Bullies Like Jesus Did

March 05, 2018

Teaching Our Children to Handle Bullies Like Jesus Did

It is hard to turn on the news, read a newspaper, or even turn on your computer without seeing evidence that the frequency and intensity of bullying amongst our children has reached an all time high. What can we do as parents to help our children deal with the bullies in their lives?

What heartache parents feel when their child feels inadequate and defeated because of a bully’s hurtful words or actions. It can be one of the most helpless feelings you will ever experience as a parent. But that is exactly why we need to turn to Jesus for help.

A good place to start is to look to the instructions that Jesus already gave us. Sometimes we forget that His words apply just as much to us today as they did the day He spoke them.

Read Matthew 5:38-44. This section from the Sermon on the Mount talks specifically about bullies. No, Jesus doesn’t come right out and say “this is how you deal with a bully”, but when you read His words, there is no denying that this was exactly what He was talking about.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” -Matthew 5:38-44

Jesus specifically instructs us to pray for those who persecute us, to love our enemies, and to do good to the ones who hate us. He continues in Matthew 5:46-47, For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Here He reminds us that it is easy to love those who are kind to us and love us back. Even people who don’t believe in God are capable of that. It is a whole different story to show love to someone who is unloving to us. That is Christ-like love!

I know firsthand the heartache a parent feels when their child is bullied. It can be one of the most helpless feelings you will ever experience as a parent. But that is exactly why we need to turn to Jesus as the example. Our feeling of helplessness is our cue that we have reached what we can do as parents and now it is God’s turn to take over.

Our children’s feelings of inadequacy come from believing what others (their bully) says about them rather than what God says about them. There bully may say they will never be good enough, but God says that they are precious, wanted, and fiercely loved. As hard as it is to think about “turning the other cheek” to those that mistreat us, I believe Jesus instructs us to do this, not only to show other’s His love, but to help train us to rely only on the truth of God’s word to define us, not the opinions of others.

It is up to us as parents to help our child remember that God’s word is always true, and His promise of love and protection never changes!

I believe the other reason Jesus instructs us show our bullies kindness and then some, is because He also knows that is the most effective way to take away from them the one thing they want most- power and control over others.

Let’s talk for a moment about the bully themselves. Why do these bullies want control and power over others so badly? Is it because they are evil people? In some cases, sadly, yes. However, in most cases, bullies are bullies because they are grasping for some way to make themselves feel powerful, or important. Usually, because they have been hurt or rejected themselves. One of the most common reasons for this hunger for control and recognition (even if it is negative recognition) is they want to be loved.

This brings me to one more reason why Jesus instructs us to love our enemies. He wants us to love our enemies because He knows the power of love. He knows that the love we show that person may be the first time in a long time that anyone has shown them kindness. Our kindness to the one person causing us so much hurt may be the turning point for them to change.

Maybe, they will change their life for the better, like Jesus’s apostle Paul. He went from a being a ruthless bully to one of Jesus’ truest friends. Wouldn’t that be amazing, if because you took God’s invitation to love your enemy, you were the one God used to bring that person to Him? Even if your kindness towards your bully doesn’t result in any change of heart on their part, you can at least rest assured, that you did your best to react just as Jesus would have.


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