The bullies among us

I want to talk about bullying. But this is different. There’s a lot of info around about dealing with children who are bullies, but what if the bully is an adult? Firstly, if an adult is bullying a child, that’s child abuse, and that’s wrong and should be reported. But what I’m talking about here is when adults bully other adults. I’m willing to bet that you’ve been bullied at one time or another by another adult. I know I have, more than once.

In our current issue, we published an article about teaching your child to be an upstander when it comes to bullying . I was rereading that article today when it suddenly occurred to me: It’s all well and good to teach our children how to handle bullies, but do we adults practice what we preach? Are we upstanders to bullying in our own lives?

If you’re bullied at work, by your boss or a co-worker, do you stand up for yourself, or do you just put up and shut up for fear of losing your job? If another mum in your coffee group bullies you in subtle ways, perhaps making snide remarks about your parenting, do you confide in someone or seek help, or do you just tell yourself you’re overreacting and let it go?

I’ve been in both situations. When it came to the workplace bullying, I did the only thing I could think of – I left. I slinked away with my tail between my legs, and tried to hide while I licked my wounds and wondered what the heck had just happened. When it came to the coffee-group bullying, I did the same thing – I just gradually stopped going, and faded out of the lives of the group. In hindsight, both were very sad reactions on my part, because I missed out on some neat experiences and relationships. But I didn’t know what to do. There was no HR department either at my job or at my coffee group. Just me and another person who wanted to make me feel bad about myself in order to make themselves feel better. (There’s a German word for this: Schadenfreude – pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.)

Now I’m a parent, I’m more conscious than ever about bullying and its perniciousness. However, now I’m a parent, I’m also more conscious that we adults don’t have much in the way of help when it comes to bullying in our own lives. We have the language and the support to help our kids, but what about us? How can we be upstanders when we see a co-worker bullied? Can we expect our co-workers to stand up for us?

I don’t have any answers yet – I’m still thinking. But if you’ve got ideas, or experiences you’d like to share, please email me at Maybe together we can figure out what to do.

WHAT AM I READING: Tanya Bakes, by Tanya Burr (Michael Joseph, $40)

I love to bake, so any new cookbook with a baking theme is going to catch my eye. And there are some real eye-catching recipes in here. Choc Chip Shortbread, Raspberry and Lemon Friands, Salted Caramel Brownies, Bailey’s Tiramisu… Everything looks do-able (read: Not so complicated that you need to be a professional chef to understand what’s going on) and the photos are delectable. Some of the recipes use ready-made ingredients too, like puff pastry which I know I can grab in a hurry at the supermarket rather than attempting my own – a boon for time-poor mums. A great gift for the bakeaholic in your life, or a worthy addition to your own cookbook shelf.

Tanya Bakes cover

Have a great week.

Katherine Granich

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