Dads Take Care of Bullies
Dads sometimes have to be bullies for their sons
by Archie Wortham
Would any of you fathers allow your sons to drive your car
without a good list of do’s and don’ts? Would any of you dads allow your sons to
venture into a new experience without providing instructions? If you answered
the first one honestly, then I can hear the groans as you remind yourself how
important it is to you that your sons (or daughters) understand safety and the
value of life. Sometimes the value of our children’s lives depends on the
condition the car is in when it is returned. First, we want to make sure the
child is alive before we kill them for something stupid they may have done
regarding something we told them to do or not do. The second question
however, is a mystery to many of us. Many times, what we expect as parents is
not clear, particularly from our sons. We expect our sons to learn things
through observation, not realizing we may not have given them the pattern we
want them to follow. Dads, we are the role models.
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t a bully when I grew up. I
was a geek, a nerd. Guys picked on me because I was a bookworm. I wore
black-rimmed glasses and high-watered pants. My voice changed late. As a member
of the glee club, I sang alto until I refused to sing anymore. I wanted to find
Mother Nature so I could choke her into understanding her joke was no longer
funny. It was humiliating. I had to bear the brunt and ill wills of the local
goon, with no help from my dad. "My dad," I thought, "he’d surely help if he was
around." How did I survive? I sort of had a ‘bodyguard,’ my best friend.
My best friend had older brothers who taught him the route, and
Floyd (that was his name) helped me make it. There were also a few male teachers
in high school that looked out for me. And I survived. Survived to the point I’m
now a dad who understands that sometimes I need to play the bully for my son.
By being the bully, you have to understand how I see that role. Granted I want my
sons to stand up on their own feet, but sometimes society expects men to grow up
too quick. There are certain rites of passage that boys learn from their dads,
and in an effort to make sure they are ready for these rites, we dads
sometimes have to protect our sons, as well as prepare them. We protect them by
seeking out dads of bullies, and encouraging these dads to teach similar virtues
to their children. We must teach virtues like "Do you know that your son is
picking on kids younger than he is?" We must teach virtues like "Would you mind
talking to your son about how he’s taking advantage of some of the kids?"
Sometimes these fathers aren’t even aware. Somehow their sons
have learned who’s an easy mark, and make the best of it. By easy mark, I mean
someone they can bully into doing something just because some kid wants to be
included. An easy mark, because for some reason unknown to many of us, some kids
are popular, and others are not, and it seems the bullies bully those who aren’t
on the local social register.
Father involvement can make up for the lack of self-esteem
their sons may feel, but only if the father realizes how important their
involvement in their son’s life is. And dads, no man will have the effect you
will have on your son’s life, and whether he wants you to or not--get involved.
Now some will say that they will learn to swim only if you throw them in the
pool, and add, "that’s how I learned!" Well that may be good for you, but think
about how you felt? Cold? Humiliated? Hurt? If you didn’t like it, why do you
think your son would? Be real! Use common sense. Be fair with your kids.
Teaching them how to take care of themselves doesn’t mean you have to abandon
them. If a kid is treating them unfairly, help them resolve the issue by giving
them the tools to handle the situation. If the situation is beyond them, then
elevate to a father-to-father level, and in the process the bully will realize
that if he messes with so-in-so’s son, his dad will find out what he’s doing.
Now some dads might encourage bullying behavior, but then that’s when a little
nurturing comes in. That's when you tell your son, ‘grin and bear it, or find
That’s what it’s all about. When I was in school, it took me
some time to realize I didn’t have to put up with the bully. It took me some
time to realize I could stand on my own feet. It took me some time to realize
that any friend who tried to take advantage of me was not a friend. I try to
teach my sons the same thing. Think about it, the next time your son needs you to run interference
before he asks for the keys to the car.
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All rights reserved.