View Full Version : homeschool bullying - wwyd ?

Stella M
09-22-2010, 01:35 AM
Hi all.
Just want some ideas on a 'situation' please!

We have been part of a study group this year with 5 other girls and their families, all around my daughters' ages - 12/13yrs. My girls see the other girls at the other activities they do.

The problem we are having is that one of the girls is behaving in a way that makes my younger daughter feel 'shunned' - basically, she is excluding her and telling her that she can't be in the friendship group b/c she is immature and juvenile. She isn't :)

My daughter is extremely upset. I have tried to offer her coping strategies for dealing with this other child. She is so upset though, that we are having a break from the activities so she can settle her emotions down rather than having them stirred up a few times a week.

Now the issue is that my daughter thinks this is helping but is unfair. She thinks the girl who is bullying by exclusion should be the one missing out on the activities. I agree.

If she was at school, I would go to the school and encourage them to deal with it on our behalf. (Whether they would or not is another thing!) In the homeschool world there is no intermediary...

Should I go to this girls' mother and request a change in behaviour from her daughter ? This mother is also the mother of my son's best buddy. She has also tried to do some relationship building talks and exercises with the girls group. She is nice. But no-one likes to hear their own child criticized.

I'm not sure how possible it is to hone in on her own child's behaviour. I'm also not sure what to do about a 3 day camp to our capital city we are all supposed to be going on in a few weeks!

Bullying can be quiet and insidious and I want to advocate for my daughter. She is right, it isn't fair that she is needing to modify her life b/c of the upset this child provokes. Do I leave it at that ? All opinions and suggestions welcome!!

09-22-2010, 03:06 AM
I am so sorry your daughter (and you!) are experiencing this unpleasantness!

I haven't encountered this myself, but I can tell you that if someone came to me with the kindness in your heart that you are obviously exhibiting to ask to speak about our daughters relations' ... I couldn't take offense. Girls are *so* complex, the kindest of girls will engage in actions that even they don't understand.

It may be something as simple as a minor jealousy, or undisclosed hurt feelings. Are you considering having all 4 of you sit down for a frank and kind exchange? If you brought it up as having a goal of making sure that everyone can feel comfortable in the group, I can't believe anyone would be offended (for long :-).

I wish you both all the luck and joy in the world. Please keep us updated, my thoughts are with you!
whatsreal in AZ

09-22-2010, 03:26 AM
Oh Melissa, this is such a hard situation isn't it and at times harder because we don't have the 3rd party that can be the 'middle man' so to speak. How well do you know the mother? Is an opne and honest discussion not possible, without it being confrontational? I honestly have no idea what I would so, so I'm no help at all I'm sorry. What do you feel in your heart?

Stella M
09-22-2010, 04:36 AM
Thanks for the empathy Kylie!

My heart just wants to protect my daughter by taking her out of the situation.
I don't know how the mum would react to a conversation, and I don't want to burn bridges...BUT I don't think bullying by girls should be ignored either.

It is so hard to explain to an 11yr old that the bully only wins if you allow them to dominate your thoughts and feelings, and that bystanding friends - even ones you really adore - aren't friends at all.

Luckily, this group is not her only source of friendship and she has some lovely friends who would never mistreat her.

I really thought we'd avoid this by homeschooling..silly me! All the literature on this topic I can find is about homeschooling your child because they've been bullied in school, not about meeting it in a homeschool environment.

09-22-2010, 07:33 AM
I know what you mean, I have a 14 year son who isn't included by some of the boys when we go to game day. But its mostly because they all have been homeschooled together since the kindergarten. I suggest to tread lightly when you talk to the girls mom and i would talk to her. Go in with something like how would you suggest I help my daughter get over the issues she is having in the girls group. I won't call her daughter out the first time you talk to her but this way she might be watching closer when the girls are together. This is what I did with my son situation I talked to all the moms that had boys his age and it made them aware of the situation and i didn't seem like I was being to rude to anyone;) We are having a better time with it and yes it is so heartbreaking to watch your kids go thru it! I just want to give those kids what for but our kids need help to stand up for themselves;)
Here if you need to talk;)

09-22-2010, 08:01 AM
Oh, I'm so sorry. That is awful. Bullying was a large part of the reason thatI pulled my daughter out of public school, since the school's attempts to stop the bullying were unsuccessful, and my wife's attempts to deal with one of the bully's parents just resulted in a lost friendship. My solution was to withdraw from the situation by homeschooling. We don't have as much of a problem now because we don't really belong to any homeschool groups, and the few extracurricular activities we do are closely monitored. She still sees her friends at our house, but of course, I don't invite the bullies.

I don't have any good advice, but a lot of commiseration.

09-22-2010, 09:52 AM
Would it be possible to get ALL the moms together to talk about it? I mean, even if one girl is being the major bully, that still means the other girls are going along with it. ALL of them need to learn more about what bullying is and the impact of it. I personally have a hard time w confrontation, and tend to just run away, but i do BELIEVE that discussing it openly with everyone (moms first tho) would be the best way to handle it.

09-22-2010, 12:40 PM
This sucks. I taught middle school at a very small school for many years and dealing with the "girl friendship issues" was always the most difficult part. When you're looking at a small group - in my school there was only 30 kids - and in the homeschooling world, kids often have only so many potential peers... the advice that one would give kids in a typical middle school would be in part about avoiding the bully and finding new friends. In small groups, that's just not something you can always do and it makes the behavior even more hurtful when it's your only or your primary social group.

First of all, I think it's hard for adults to really know what's going on in some of these situations. It sounds like the other girl is being a bully, but I feel like there's almost always more to the story. Also, what 12 yo girls think is "mature" usually isn't, but your dd may be acting in some way that makes her the odd one out - possibly even by being *more* mature and not going along with things the other girls are into that she thinks are wrong - or even just things she's not interested in. I think girls at this age are often interested in trying to form identity by being the same as everyone else or as everyone in their group. If your dd is like, hey, that's fine, but I'm not into manga or Gossip Girl or whatever the other girls are into, she may expect that the other girls can do the same for her and listen to her interests when they're not mature enough to do that without being nasty. She shouldn't have to change her behavior to be treated with respect, but if she wants to really be friends with these girls, the honest truth is she might have to. We all form friendships based on mutual interests - proximity (or "we're all the same age, gender and homeschooled") isn't always enough. Whether she should or even would be willing to I think you were right to work with her and hang back a little, but I agree with Cara - if these girls are a group, can you get the moms together to talk about the dynamics of the group and what's going on. The other moms may also have other pieces of the puzzle or even complaints of their own - if not about your dd, then about other aspects of the friendship. Or they may have no idea that your dd was being excluded. But yeah, tread lightly and don't be accusatory.

09-22-2010, 01:25 PM
What a difficult situation, but luckily what a lot of thought-provoking advice. I would definitely tread lightly and try not to be accusatory (like farrar just suggested). Beyond that, I would keep in mind that there are always 3 sides (at least) to every story. It would really help if you had someone reliable that was present that could give a detailed third party perspective on how the girls related to each other. Then you would have an idea of the proper "plan of attack" to solve the problem. Whatever happens, I hope it works out well for all of you, and that your daughter is no longer singled out and left behind. Good luck! :)

09-22-2010, 03:09 PM
I think I lost my train of thought in the middle of my reply before. Clearly I shouldn't try to post things 5 minutes before I host science co-op...

09-22-2010, 04:29 PM
This is one of the hardest situations to watch your kids go through. I agree with the others that yes you bring it up to the other moms, maybe in a "You know, I've noticed when DD comes home she's upset because of xyz. Is anybody else noticing this?" kind of way.

Alan Kazdin and Carlo Rotella offered some practical advice last year http://www.slate.com/id/2249424/

Hope things get better quickly.

09-22-2010, 04:52 PM
Sheesh, I'm sorry your daughter is having to deal with this yuckiness.

I would definitely say something to the mother; something like, "Has your daughter said anything to you about how she & my daughter have been getting along recently? My girl said she was feeling like she wasn't included as much & I'm wondering if you've noticed anything like that?"

I know I would definitely want to know if my ladies were behaving in ways that were hurting others & I would address it & change it promptly. I've noticed that when Madison has had issues like this, homeschool mommas are pretty good about doing so; hopefully this woman will be, as well. Your daughter deserves to be treated nicely by every single child around her. Period.

Good luck! Let us know how it work out.

Stella M
09-22-2010, 09:50 PM
Thanks so much for the sympathy, suggestions and links. That Slate article was really helpful. It's so awesome to have a place to bring this to where the answer isn't 'take it to the Lord'!!

I'm going to suggest at our meeting today that before our trip away we need to meet up and help the girls to come up with their own code of conduct that will hopefully give a basis to rejecting bullying behaviours. My dd offered to make a speech :) I said that sounded great but might not be neccessary! She is angry but certainly not beaten down...if we can't do this, I'm not taking the kids on the trip. If we do go, I'll be hanging out in the girls dorm keeping a polite eye on things.

I'm aware that she has had a part in the dynamic - it's your classic, now you're in the clique, now you're not type thing. There's jealousy from both sides of a triangular friendship where she has done a pretty good job of fitting in interest-wise until now.

I don't object to the other 2 girls wanting to have a more "mature" (and I use that term loosely!!) friendship but bullying is an unacceptable way of going about it.

I also feel badly because most of the upsetting behaviour took place when I wasn't there and had left her at another weekly activity in the care of the bully's mother.
I won't be leaving her at activities any more, unless she's with a super-trusted friend or family member.

My code of conduct suggestion seems to be partially meeting her sense of injustice right now, which is good.

These issues have been discussed somewhat with the other parents in the teen group before and I'm aware that my daughter isn't the only one who is feeling uncomfortable. So hopefully raising it as a group issue will work better than raising it with the mother one-on-one. There is an attitude (biblically expressed of course), that my dd should just back off and get over it. I am astounded that Christian women haven't gotten around to teaching their 12/13yr olds to 'do unto others', but that's another story...can you tell I'm feeling somewhat bitter??!!

I'll let you know how it pans out....also, any suggestions for helping her deal with her anger/sense of unfairness ? without having the other girl actually punished, which is, of course, what she would like best!

Stella M
09-23-2010, 03:16 AM
Ok, so that didn't go so well :(

Silence from the other mums in the group and defensiveness from the mother.
They feel that we have gotten side-tracked from the purpose of our group (with which I heartily agree!) and that the problem is best dealt with by the girls themselves. The mother involved thinks that it is over the top for the girls to come up with a code of behaviour before we all go away.

I don't feel the girls have shown themselves capable of sorting it out by themselves in a positive way.

So, I think I'll probably take the kids out of the study group, and not go on the trip. Sad. Thinking it over tonight and hopefully I'll be able to communicate my plans in a graceful way and not jeopardise the friendship ds has with the boy in the family involved.

I know this is common girl behaviour and I know my dd has a part to play in resolving it but I really don't think it should be 100% up to her. and I don't think my suggestion was out of line.

09-23-2010, 05:44 AM
I'm sorry it didn't go over well. It sounded like a good plan, and no--you are not out of line to help young girls sort out their issues. It's called parenting, and it's a shame the other mothers don't see it that way.

09-23-2010, 07:12 AM
I'm sorry too. Guiding kids through a tough situation just makes sense.
One things that struck my boys (9yo & 11yo) about Romeo & Juliet was the lack of adult involvement in helping these adolescents grow up. "Mostly these are kids whose parents don't really seem to care about them. The parents sure aren't doing anything good. No wonder the boys form gangs." (They also thought R&J were totally crazy "Right like it's a good idea to marry somebody you've known for less than a day. Particularly when he was head over heels in love with somebody else the day before that." We'll see what happens when puberty hits.)

Kudos to you for being a true parent.

09-23-2010, 07:27 AM
Pefa: I've just got to say that your boys made some seriously impressive observations. I've never even thought about it that way! Good for them; they sound very mature and thoughtful.

09-23-2010, 08:35 AM
Oh, Melissa, I am sorry, too, that it did not turn out well. Your plan seemed tactful and admirable to me. How frustrating that it did not go as needed. I really hope you and your daughter find a solution. :)

09-23-2010, 10:03 AM
I'm sorry, too - its hard to understand why homeschool parents have such a hands-off attitude - i dont expect that as much. althought, otoh, a fb freind (who is, i think, an unschooler) posted an article about a mom saying she wont 'tattle' on your teens - that what happens at her place is dealt with by her, and your teens are old enough to have things happen in their lives that you dont need to know about. And the woman who posted it was all excited about it, but I felt like its trying to put a positive spin on keeping negative secrets, and totally downplaying the importance of the relationship between the teens and their parents - not as far as being punished, but as far as being able to discuss whats going on and possible ways to handle things.

09-23-2010, 10:40 AM
What a huge bummer. I'm sorry the mothers weren't willing to parent their children. :/

09-23-2010, 03:40 PM
That sucks. You had such a good idea about them coming up with a code of behavior too! And starting a trip off with that kind of purposefulness can help it become an inclusive experience instead of an exclusive one. I think there is certainly something to be said for kids figuring things out themselves and working out their problems without adults micromanaging everything. However, kids also need guidance and need adults to set the tone and bring these issues up so they can figure out how to deal with them and what's right and wrong. It's a fine line sometimes, but when bullying really rears its head, adults have a place. When I worked with middle schoolers, I always compared it to the fact that if you bully in the real world, the police and courts with restraining orders and fines will get involved.

Anyway, good luck figuring this all out.

Stella M
09-24-2010, 07:16 PM
Thanks everyone for contributing...isn't it funny how when you can talk out an issue, you kinda work out what you need to do anyway ?

I feel like I've done as much as I can in terms of raising this issue with those involved and that I tried to stand up for dd in the most reasonable way I could.

We are definitely not going away on camp, as I would have sole responsibility for monitoring the girls behaviour in the dorm and that would be just too exhausting! I'm not making a big fuss of it though, just letting the lady who is co-ordinating the $ know.

We still may go to the study group next term though - having thought it over, the group learning is a good thing - I'll just be hanging around the girls a lot! and nipping any nastiness in the bud. Hopefully.

Luckily, it is holiday time here so we have a couple of weeks of only seeing good friends - I'm hoping that time and having shown dd that I take her feelings seriously and acted on them will help her come to terms with her upset and anger.

The only troublesome thing now is that the girl involved attends my book club here at our house. I just can't ask her not to attend. That would really burn all my bridges!! I need to help dd come up with a way of that being tolerable for her.

Any suggestions ? You guys are great :)

09-24-2010, 08:05 PM
I am very sorry they chosen to simply not deal with this at all.

Have you only spoken about this to the group as a whole? Often silence is simply saying either I am too scared to talk about my thoughts in front of the whole group or I just don't really want to talk in front of the whole.

Have you considered discussing with some of them on their own, to simply gauge their own individual feelings? Things could be different when talked about on a more personal level.

Stella M
09-24-2010, 08:54 PM
Thanks for that thought Kylie. I see what you mean...I have talked about it with one other mother whose child is dropping out of the group next term b/c of the 'clique' that dominates it ( you would think in a group of 7 girls there wouldn't be enough people for a clique to form, but there is!). She hasn't been in the thick of all the emotional stuff though and I don't think her mum is invested in working on these things with the group now, and fair enough. It did help me feel that it wasn't just a matter of my family being over-sensitive though! I am wary of talking to people one-on-one because that is so easily misinterpreted as bitching behind people's backs, kwim ?

09-25-2010, 07:40 AM
Oh yeah I kwum!! Well I guess if one other family is leaving, that may just be your answer there.....still not fair though.

09-25-2010, 08:15 AM
Your house your rules, perhaps the next book could be about cliques or insiders vs outsiders which would naturally lead to a discussion of how it all plays out in real life. I can't think of any specific titles other than "Harriet the Spy" (which was so foreign/dated to my youngest two that they couldn't get through it) but maybe somebody else has some ideas.

If the list is already set, then I think it would be fair to spend some time having the girls come up with a code of conduct for the group.

Stella M
09-25-2010, 05:28 PM
Pefa, that's a great idea...will have to do a bit of research on suitable books!!

There is never a problem with behaviour in the book club b/c we have a different mix of girls/different ages and I keep them pretty focused but what a way to raise the issues and hopefully have it spill over into other groups/places.

I think my dd will go for this...it's sort of like a very polite and constructive revenge!!
Seriously though, a discussion like that might also help dd understand these common dynamics and ease her sense of injury.

Can anyone think of a novel dealing with this stuff for early teens off the top of their head ?

09-25-2010, 08:18 PM
Gosh, good question... the first title that occurred to me was Lord of the Flies. Also, The Chocolate War. And Loser, by Jerry Spinelli. But those are all "boy" books.

But how about Speak by Laurie Anderson? The only hesitancy I have is that there are some serious teen "issues" in that book. It could be too much for some 12 year olds... and perhaps more to the point, it could be too much for some Christian homeschool parents :(

How about When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt? That's not quite perfect though... Let me keep thinking... I feel like I know the book you're looking for and it's just not quite coming to me...

09-25-2010, 08:31 PM
Okay, Amazon had a bunch of good Listamania's about this, including this (http://www.amazon.com/Teen-Reads-About-Bullying/lm/RGMKFS37D0OW/ref=cm_srch_res_rpli_alt_3)one. Maybe Blubber by Judy Blume? Though that's not a favorite of mine. Or maybe you should all just watch Mean Girls from back before Lindsay Lohan went insane.

Stella M
09-26-2010, 02:52 AM
Laughing at the idea of sending out the email inviting everyone over for a screening of 'Mean Girls'...off the topic, but how weird is this - even in this homeschool group there is an unwritten dress code...if you dress like a 'homeschooler', you're out! Bizarre.

Thanks for the suggestions. I've only read a couple of those books - the one that came to mind for me was one of Margaret Atwood's books - Cats Eye ? - but that's probably too adult.

I'm not usually into 'issue' fiction, but this is just such a good idea I'll have to read up on these titles and more.

Theresa Holland Ryder
09-26-2010, 06:04 AM
Can anyone think of a novel dealing with this stuff for early teens off the top of their head ?

Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe. (http://www.amazon.com/Give-Up-Ghost-Megan-Crewe/dp/B003NHR9U6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285495321&sr=1-1)

As someone explains it in their review on Amazon, the main character is "the outsider that used to be an insider until her best friend turned on her out of jealously."

09-26-2010, 07:58 AM
I'm also drawing a blank, mostly because I'm also not a fan of "issue" books.

They may only associate bullying with "evil" schools in which case a fantasy like some of Tamora Pierce's books or even Harry Potter might be an easier entry. E.L. Konigsburg has written lots of books about insiders/outsiders. B.O.O has been reading a series of historical fiction by L.A. Meyers about a girl who dresses as a boy joins the British Navy and has many many rip roaring adventures. In one of the books she and 30 or so other girls are captured by slave traders. She and her rival have to find common ground to survive. They don't end up liking each other but they do gain respect. Which is often the case in real life.


What a great opportunity you're giving these kids.

09-26-2010, 10:36 AM
I also don't like "issue" books. A book's plot should stand on its own and should have a greater value than just a simple moral lesson. However, I think there are many books with issues that are worth reading. Exclusion is a pretty universal topic. A book like The Chocolate War stands on its own as something better than just an issue book, IMHO. But I would agree that there are many that don't. Blubber is an example of a book that seems to be only about the issue it tackles, with few other redeeming qualities.

If you wanted to keep it really literary, I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 12 and exclusion is one of the central themes of that classic book, though in ways that don't address bullying specifically at all.

09-26-2010, 10:59 AM
Farrar ITA with you. No tension/conflict/issue = no plot, all you're doing is reading Dick & Jane. I just don't like the ones with copy on them that reads "cruelly abandoned by her crackhead mother living on the streets Ophelia learns to deal with her weight issues by befriending a two headed pygmy."

09-26-2010, 12:09 PM
Farrar ITA with you. No tension/conflict/issue = no plot, all you're doing is reading Dick & Jane. I just don't like the ones with copy on them that reads "cruelly abandoned by her crackhead mother living on the streets Ophelia learns to deal with her weight issues by befriending a two headed pygmy."

Oh now that is just too funny, Pefa! :)

09-27-2010, 08:52 AM
Does American Girl Krysta have a book? Her movie is all about bullying and perfect for that age. Not very heavy on the literature though. :p

A View from Saturday is about a group of outsiders, but I don't know that the message would be that clear in it. It's a great book though.

Theresa Holland Ryder
09-28-2010, 01:16 PM
is pretty good too, though it's more of a middle grade reader.

Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister (http://www.amazon.com/Philippa-Fishers-Fairy-Godsister-Kessler/dp/0763645966/ref=sr_1_2?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285694026&sr=8-2)