When you hear of a teen who committed suicide from cyber-bullying, what do you think? Typically we blame parents: Why didn’t they pay attention, do more, give more, listen more, set boundaries, get help?
Most parents today want to give, they don’t want to be cops, they want to be happy and they want their kids to be happy too. But I can tell you many kids today are not happy. They are stressed and pressured by peers. Cutting has become an epidemic way of handling pain temporarily.
“Mean girls” has become a label that everyone understands. I think many if not most of these girls (and it’s boys too) are personality disorders. They love to stir up trouble–love to create drama–sometimes super sweetly. Why?
It isn’t their fault. They didn’t create the trauma in their early years that causes the lack of safety that twists their perspective and shuts down trust, causing disordered personalities. But you need to let your children know to stay away from these types of peers. Bullies abound today.
The best way you can protect your child is to make them secure in your love and their value. Spend quality time with them and listen. Help them protect themselves. Change schools. Change technology.
But if your child is the bully, face the truth. If you pretend they aren’t, you can’t help them. It will ruin their lives and others’ lives.
If nothing is ever their fault, if they lie, cheat, steal, or talk trash about other kids, you likely have a bully. Teamed up with another bully they can be deadly, as we all witnessed on national news this past week.
You can’t force them to change, but learn about their disorder. Then explain to them that it came from trauma in their early years and it makes them feel unsafe, untrusting, unloved. Tell them it isn’t their fault, but it is their responsibility–they are the only ones who can choose to change. Tell them it will ruin their lives.
I find my clients who have personality disorders have a much better chance of changing if they have someone who is willing to tell them the hard truth kindly, with support.
And know that their parents weren’t trying to mess them up. They were trying to figure out their own lives. They didn’t know that their choices were going to ruin their kids lives. They were trying to deal with their misery or results of their own poor choices. They were just trying to be happy.
Pursuing happiness is a problem in this society–spotted by a visiting Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, in our Constitution one hundred years ago. He said it’s impossible.
Chasing happiness will take you to addiction, and NOT happiness. De Tocqueville was right. Happiness is a byproduct of doing the right thing. If happiness is your goal, you are ruining your life and your children’s. Face your own pain. It will help everyone around you.
What is important to you? What values are you teaching your children? Are you all about money, or looking good? How do you spend your time? Working? Shopping? Seeking your next feel-good?
The only personality disorders that recover are those strong enough, determined enough, to stop the drama and wreckage, get honest, and work. They stop lying to themselves and admit that they feel scared and unloved. (They are usually very bright and have worked up incredible systems of defense mechanisms.)
If you are the parent (and not disordered yourself) you have to kindly and firmly hold their feet to the fire–truth–until they can hear you.
More next time…