Focus on the Family Weekend   >>   All Episodes

Combating Bullies in Your Child's Life

Air Date 11/17/2018

Get Social and Listen

This weekend, Jonathan McKee reflects on the bullying he endured as a child and the valuable lessons he's learned from his experiences in a discussion based on his book The Bullying Breakthrough: Real Help for Parents and Teachers of the Bullied, Bystanders, and Bullies.

Listen online, or download from our store.

Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt:

Jonathan McKee: I understand, as parents, we get emotional; we want to do something. But every expert out there tells us to resist the urge to just fix it, because the thing that our kids need, more than anything else if our kids are being bullied, is they need someone who listens and understands.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Jonathan McKee, and he joins us today on Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, bullying seems to be more prevalent today than ever. In fact, nearly 71 percent of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools. Um, all too often, we hear about a suicide or a shooting that has occurred because of bullying. Right here in our little town of Colorado Springs, we have heard that story repeated a few times. It’s one of the top three triggers for parents to decide to take their kids out of public or private school and begin to homeschool - to keep them safe. It’s abusive. It’s ugly and disturbingly common. And oftentimes, it can have lethal consequences. It takes on all different forms - verbal, physical, social, digital now in the electronic age. Today, we want to give you the tools to equip your children to prevent and deal with this type of bullying. We’ll also give you some ideas of what to do if you discover your child is the bully.

John: Hm.

Jim: So I’m really looking forward to this program.

John: Yeah, and Jonathan McKee has over 20 years of youth ministry, uh, experience and speaks to parents, leaders and teens worldwide. He’s married to Lori. They have three adult children. And his most recent book is The Bullying Breakthrough: Real Help for Parents and Teachers of the Bullied, Bystanders and Bullies.

Body:

Jim: Jonathan, it’s great to have you back with us at Focus.

Jonathan: Oh, always good to be here. Thanks, guys.

Jim: Um, you experienced bullying in grade school and high school. Um, let’s start there. What happened in your context? And what did it do to you?

Jonathan: You know, it’s interesting, uh, writing this book kind of brought back a lot of that hurt and stuff as I start to hear stories from others - as I interviewed others, it just reminded me of some of those times. I mean, as a kid, it seemed like, you know, a normal kid and not much going on. All of a sudden, third or fourth grade, you know, when my baby tooth came out and the big teeth came in, it just seems like those things just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And by, man, I tell you, early grade school, my teeth were so big that they literally - they were like showstoppers. I mean, people would stop - I’d be in the grocery store and little kids would be like, “Mommy, what’s wrong with his teeth?” You know, “Shh, dear, don’t stare,” you know.

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: And...

John: Wow.

Jonathan: ...It’s interesting because - and a lot of this came back because I - whenever I talked with someone who had, you know, that physical difference - that difference like, I have a friend who’s got a birthmark on his face. It’s - you can’t miss it. They called him, “Hey, Kool-Aid” as a kid. It’s just one of those things that kids don’t really know how to respond, so they immediately respond with name-calling. So I mean, I was you name it - I mean, Bucky Beaver, Bugs Bunny, Can Opener. And, uh, it was rough.

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: It was rough. There was times, uh, I remember once of this experience at this little basketball camp because I really loved basketball as a kid. I was fourth grade and some kids were kind of making fun of my teeth. And I kind of remember looking to the coach and these kids were making fun of me. I’m like, “Oh, yeah, well, I -” and they’re like, “You can’t do nothing.” I’m like, “Yeah, I can. Yeah, I can.” And I looked up at the coach. And the coach goes, “What - chew through wood?” You know? And that was the...

John: Whoa...

Jonathan: ...Coach.

Jim: ...Wow.

Jonathan: And of course, once he, you know...

Jim: Kind of...

Jonathan: ...Said that...

Jim: ...Sanctioned it.

Jonathan: Oh, absolutely.

John: He opened the door, and they went...

Jonathan: It was...

John: ...Through it. Yeah.

Jonathan: ...It was open game. Man, I - I had a “kick me” sign on my back at that moment, you know, the - because - I mean, I was, you know, Woody Woodchuck, you name it, from that moment on. So...

Jim: How long did that last - I mean, through school, all of school, high school?

Jonathan: It lasted until braces, man. It lasted until - it was, like, middle school, basically, when you know, when all of a sudden, I got that fixed because until then when people would meet me, um - and the school I went to wasn’t exactly like a - you know, it was kind of a rough school. And sometimes people would - they’d meet me, and they’d literally be like, “Man, what is up with your teeth?!” You know, I mean, it was just - and I was used to that.

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: That - that was what came. So I kind of developed a quick wit, tried to have some defense mechanisms, um...

Jim: Just absorb it.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that’s the thing - you have to just kind of take it.

Jonathan: Well, and that...

Jim: I mean, what are you going to do?

Jonathan: And that’s what’s hard, too, is I don’t think a lot of people. That’s one of the things I’m hoping to do a little bit with as I’m talking about this, when I do school assemblies about this, uh, with the book - is raise awareness because...

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: ...I mean, I remember interviewing this one young man, who was a heavy kid. And his - his body didn’t process carbs right. And so it’s funny - every one of his siblings thin - whatever. He actually ate better than his siblings, but heavy guy. And all his friends - he ended up playing sports. He ended up playing football. And that was one place where he kind of felt, you know...

Jim: Needed.

Jonathan: ...Accept - accepted.

(LAUGHTER)

Jonathan: Accepted.

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: But yet, you know, they kind of grope him. They thought it was, I think, a friendly thing, but he just said, “Man, it” - he goes...

Jim: Oh, yeah.

Jonathan: “...Didn’t even realize that - that hurts.”

Jim: Let me - let me ask you - and that gives a good baseline for the discussion - your own pain. And you’ve done a great job in this book The Bullying Breakthrough. Probably the biggest help today will be what is the definition of bullying? I mean, so parents have an...

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: ...Idea, and they can talk to their kids. I talk to my boys about it probably ad nauseam. I’ll say, “Hey, are you being...”

Jonathan: Right.

Jim: “...Bullied? Are you being the bully?” I mean, we talk about it. And they’ll say, “Oh, no, Dad, I’ve never ever seen it.” That’s what one of them said to me this morning...

Jonathan: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: ...And when I talked to him about it. But yet, maybe we all aren’t working off the same definition. So let’s go there. What is the definition of bullying?

Jonathan: Yeah, no, good - great question. And different people have different definitions. The Center for Disease Control’s definition I think is pretty helpful because it’s got three elements in there that are almost, I think, check boxes for us to mentally check off in our mind. And those three check boxes are aggressive behavior, power plays and repeated. And what that means basically is whenever somebody’s, like, making fun of someone - you know, some - people are sometimes mean. They just make fun of each other. It happens. That’s mean, and it happens. Sometimes it’s not even purposeful. But when you also add into it that there’s this power play, this kind of one-upping this - and very often, it’s because someone else feels bad about themselves, and they’ll make themselves feel better by stepping on the bodies of others, by raising themself up. That’s a power play - when you’re trying to raise yourself up by making someone else feel lower. And then the other important part of this definition is repeated - the fact that it’s repeated again and again. This isn’t just a one-time thing. This is happening again and again.

John: Jonathan, does that mean repeated by the same people, or you get the same thing maybe from multiple sources?

Jonathan: Usually when it’s talking about who is a bully, it’s repeated with the same person. But, you know, that’s a great question because that brings up what - and this is one of the subjects that I don’t think a lot of people are talking about - uh, the group I call the bystanders. And for me - and honestly, when you read any account of school shootings, where you hear that bullying happened - I mean, here, close to Focus on the Family, you go back to Columbine - it was the crowds of people that stood by and did nothing. And that’s where all of a sudden you look and say, “Okay, at what time does the bystander become the bully?” Is chuckling at the person who’s getting his books knocked after class daily, is that - all of a sudden, are you becoming part of the crowd?

Jim: Let me - let me ask you this because, again, if you’re an engaged parent, and you’re having these discussions, and your kids are responding...

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: “...You know, no, I really don’t see it, Dad. I - I’ve not done it, and I’ve not been bullied,” how do you equip them to trigger the right response? So if you set a scenario for them...

Jonathan: Sure.

Jim: “Well, listen, Johnny or Mary, if this is what you see, then you should do this” - how do you set up a scenario - storytelling scenario to help them better understand how not to be the bystander?

Jonathan: I think several things we can do as adults - and obviously, I - I, you know, spend a whole chapter on bystanders, but I think one of the biggest things that parents can do is, um, model empathy ourselves because a lot of - when it comes to the world of bullying, what lacks is empathy - stepping into someone else’s shoes and what’s it like to be that person, to hear this ridicule day after day. And as parents, we don’t realize how much power we have just to model something like that with the people we encounter day after day.

Jim: Yeah, give me an example, though. Say I’m talking to my youngest, Troy. And, you know we’ve had this discussion. Maybe he said, “You know, Dad, today, I might have seen somebody being bullied.” Give me the dialogue. What do you say as a parent that’s very helpful?

Jonathan: Yeah, I think that in that situation - well, especially if he says, “I’ve seen something” - and as we even heard at the beginning of the show, statistically, 70 percent of young people have witnessed some sort of bullying. So...

Jim: That’s staggering.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: That’s an amazing number.

Jonathan: Yeah, so chances are that they have. I mean, 50 percent according to a U.S. aide report recently have actually admitted that they themselves have made fun of someone recently. Seventy percent of school administrations say they have witnessed bullying. I mean, it’s a reality out there. And especially now that they’re carrying this in their pockets, it’s no longer an 8-to-2:30 thing. It is a, you know, all-day thing. So if Troy, your son, is talking to you and saying, “Yeah, I’ve seen it,” I mean, yeah. I mean, most likely - statistically, he has seen this. And for you to be able to just empathize with him and actually draw it out of him, ask him, “What’d you see? How’d that make you feel? Hey, how do you...”

Jim: “How’d you react?”

Jonathan: “How do you think -” if he saw a friend of his named Brian - “You know, how do you think Brian - huh, that’s interesting. How do you think Brian feels?” And, again, not making Troy feel like he himself is - “So what’d you do about it? Did you do anything? Oh, so you just stood there and let it go by, huh?” No - I mean, we’re not talking about that - just - but actually kind of - “Wow, that’s - I’m so glad you told me about this” - and listening to him.

Jim: I think the other thing, too, is when you see them doing a - the right thing, make sure you give them the appropriate praise and gratitude for having the right heart. I remember a time - it was with Troy - and we were at a - one of the high school football games. And I - he was probably seventh or eighth grade, but his older brother was, you know, at the high school. And one of his friends was choking, I think, on a hot dog. And I turned around from the stands, and I could see he was in trouble. And the other boys were teasing him going, “Huh, dude, you’re choking on that hot dog. What a fool. Don’t you know how to eat?” And Troy jumped in and said, “Hey, guys, back off. Man, he needs help.” But I said, “Troy, awesome; way to go; way to get involved…”

Jonathan: Great.

Jim: “...And not support that kind of, um, harassment when this kid was in trouble.” I mean, that - but that’s kind of the junior high attitude, isn’t it? It’s amazing.

Jonathan: Well, you, right there, drew attention to a positive thing, which is great. I mean, it’s so great when you reward someone for that. And the more we can kind of raise awareness, uh, model this empathy ourselves, that’s gonna help. And that’s why a lot of, I mean, frankly, a lot of this book is storytelling - story after story - because when, honestly, when our kids watch movies, read books about this kind of stuff, and they see it, they’re like, “Wow, I never thought about that. What would it be like to be that kid?” That, right there, is kind of our entrance into that world. And...

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: ...That opens up doors to discussions.

Jim: Let’s be very succinct because I want the listeners to be able to make a mental note of what we’re saying here, especially moms and dads. You’ve mentioned bullying. That’s one of three. We’ve talked about the bystander, but hit those three just so we concretely have those in our mind.

Jonathan: Yeah, I think that there’s three types of kids out there. I think there’s the bully; I think there’s the bystander; and I think there’s the bullied. And the one thing I often ask parents is, “Well, which is your kid?”

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: And sometimes we - as parents, we don’t even know what that is. And I think these are some of the discussions we can have with our kids because who knows? Our kid might be the one who, you know, he or she is having self-esteem issues and is out there actually bullying and doing this, or our kid might be the one who’s just kind of chuckling and watching and, you know, or our kid might be the one who’s receiving this kind of torment daily.

John: Our guest today on Focus on the Family is Jonathan McKee. And we’re talking about his book, The Bullying Breakthrough: Real Help for Parents and Teachers of the Bullied, Bystanders and Bullies. And we’ve got that and a CD or free download of the conversation at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Jonathan, again, let me cement in all of our minds, for the parents particularly, what to be looking for. What if, um, your parents noticed? I mean, obviously, you admitted your adult teeth came in. They were larger than life. It was the basis for the bullying. Um, how do we, as parents, recognize some of those physical dimensions that our kids might be struggling with? We know they’re going to grow out of it. We know we can get ‘em braces at the right time. Whatever it might be - their weight - uh, whatever - it does tend to start with a physical issue.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: There’s something there that people can observe. And then the other kids can, unfortunately, kind of coalesce around that and join in the teasing of a child or the bullying of a child in that way. So as a parent, how can we prepare a child to say - you know, even before it happens - hopefully - to be able to say, “You know, sometimes kids tease other kids about their physical appearance, and, you know, your teeth are a little bigger than normal, but your - your face is gonna grow into them. Don’t worry. It’s - your teeth are mature and ahead of schedule.” How do you help prepare the impact for that...

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: ...Without doing damage?

Jonathan: Well, you kind of touch on two issues there. First of all, what you’re talking about is kind of, first of all, spotting these warning signs. And I started looking for common denominators in the research of looking for this because, again, a lot of parents don’t even see this stuff. And we don’t want to all of a sudden get a bunch of parents freaking out and going, “Oh, wait. You know, my kid is, you know, secretly being bullied, and I don’t even know.” So keep an eye out for a lot of the warning signs. And I list a lot of them in a book. But some, I mean...

Jim: Give us some.

Jonathan: Yeah, a huge one would be kind of the - when you start to hear your kids starting to verbalize some insecurities. Um, some moms whose daughters were being bullied, you start to hear daughters saying comments about, you know, “Well, why don’t you wear this skirt?” “Well, I don’t want my fat legs showing.” You know, well, where’d she get to this idea she has fat legs? You know. And granted, there’s all kinds of factors out there. So you can get that from entertainment, media, whatever. But when they start verbalizing these insecurities, very often, they’ve heard these. Uh, changes in friend groups is another huge, uh, warning sign. It’s like...

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: “...Well, how come - how come you don’t hang out with Maddie anymore?”

Jim: Because you’re no longer part of the “In group”.

Jonathan: Yeah. “How come you don’t hang out with Brian anymore?” That’s a huge one. Um, avoiding school, declining grades - you know, “I don’t want to go” - so many of the stories I researched and so many of the stories of first hand testimony I heard were, all of a sudden, a kid was like, “I didn’t want to go to school. And also, you know, I was sick a lot,” you know...

Jim: (Unintelligible)

Jonathan: ...Because they didn’t...

Jim: ...Avoidance.

Jonathan: ...Want to go to school. Increased anxiety and depression - that’s a tough one to spot right now because in the last six years, anxiety is up, depression is up, suicide is up. When you start sometimes even hearing - seeing changes in eating habits, subtle confessions - like, they might just a little offhand comment - again, not any of these alone is necessarily a warning sign. But when you start to see the combination of these, you might start to get a peek into their world. And really, that’s one of the things I emphasize with parents more than anything is jump into their world; look for some of these things.

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: And that brings us to the question you asked us, which is now - now, what do you do, you know?

Jim: Right. Well, to soften the blow and to be a partner with your child in that because...

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: ...If they feel you’re in their corner, I think that is really big. I feel so bad what you said a moment ago about your teacher jumping in and commenting on your physical appearance and what that must...

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: You know, like you said, it opened the floodgates. It gave the okay for the kids now to jump and pound on you in that way.

Jonathan: Well...

Jim: Um, that’s terrible.

Jonathan: It is. And I think our tendency, as parents - to answer your question you asked, which is a fantastic question, is, what can we do? I think I got to first say what we shouldn’t do. And that is that our impulse is to jump in and fix. We want to fix this situation. We want to...

Jim: Well, fix and protect.

Jonathan: Yeah. Yeah. And I don’t blame ‘em. I mean, my son was bullied just immensely in fifth grade, to the point that I wanted to go down to the school and start throwing fifth graders around. I mean, I was like - I looked at my wife once. I said, “You know, we better find a lawyer because I’m about to go get arrested because I’m...”

Jim: Wow.

Jonathan: “...Gonna go beat up some fifth-graders” because - because my son was being hurt daily. And, you know, I talked with the principal, everything - nothing I could do. So I mean, I understand, as parents, we get emotional; we want to do something. But every expert out there tells us to resist the urge to just fix it because the thing that our kids need, more than anything else if our kids are being bullied, is they need someone who listens and understands. And so the comfort that I can tell moms and dads is we don’t have to have that perfect answer because we could come up with - right now, “Well, what do you tell your son Troy? You know, what - what do you say in this situation?” Sometimes we’re in a situation - honestly, we don’t know - and the best thing to say, moms and dads, is “Wow, I don’t know how we’re gonna fix this, but I’m so glad you told me.”

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: And that’s what we need to do more than anything else is that empathy that validates and tells them “I noticed this, and I just want you to know I’m so glad, you know, that you shared this with me.”

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: You know, because that’s what’s huge - is them feeling like someone’s in their corner.

Jim: Well, and that’s what I mean - somebody in your corner...

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Jim: ...Somebody that’s got an arm around you, someone...

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: ...You can trust, someone you can talk to. And that, hopefully, would be the parent. I mean, it’s not always doable, but hopefully.

Jonathan: Well, and our tendency normally is to be like, “What? Who?”

Jim: Right.

Jonathan: “I’m gonna call that parent right now. We’re gonna march down the principal’s office.” And every single - I mean, without exception - every single kid I interviewed who was bullied, they said it only made it worse...

Jim: Yes.

Jonathan: ...Because mom or dad freaked out. They overreacted. They marched down to the principal’s office. And then you hear those stories. And when you march out of the principal’s office, the principal, very often - “Well, you guys shake hands” or whatever, you know. And...

Jim: Now they know...

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: ...That...

Jonathan: And trust me, there’s some amazing school administration out there. But the perception for sure is, they can’t help; adults will only make this worse. So we need to not jump into that stereotype.

Jim: And this - we’ve really discussed those kind of bullying environments that we’re all familiar with. I mean, even me going to school in the ‘70s, you know, that was kind of typical - the group that got bullied and the group that bullied and then the bystanders, as you’ve said.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: Cyberbullying is relatively new to culture. It’s not something I ever experienced outside of people who don’t like Focus on the Family.

(LAUGHTER)

That’s another form of adult bullying, I guess.

Jonathan: It happens.

Jim: But the point of that is cyberbullying for junior high and high school students particularly, is quite severe. And it kind of amplifies and gives a megaphone to the bullies. Uh, describe cyberbullying for those of us parents who didn’t really grow up with it and then, um, you know, some of the big consequences that have come from it.

Jonathan: Oh, absolutely. I mean, and - and as the three of us are sitting here right now just having this conversation, the - all three of us, even if we experience some tough times, and I experienced some tough times - the one thing that we had, the one saving grace was that, you know, when that bell rang after school, we got to go home...

Jim: Usually run home.

Jonathan: Yeah...

John: Escaping.

Jonathan: ...Exactly.

John: Yeah.

Jonathan: And escape it or after sports. And some people didn’t have a safe place, but for a lot of us, at least we had this place where we could go, this bed where we could rest. And now, young people don’t have that because they carry a device in their pocket. And according to Pew Research’s most recent study, 95 percent of young people have access to a smartphone. Only 3 percent of young people aren’t on these major social media outlets. And they literally listed them in this report. So I mean, we’re talking, you know, 95 to 97 percent of young people...

Jim: Universal usage.

Jonathan: ...Constantly connected all the time. And so much of this is happening in their bedroom. So no longer is their bedroom a safe place where they’re not gonna hear the jeers and mocks anymore because now they can’t even post anything anymore without being - you know, just at least small jabs, small comments, that kind of stuff. And statistically, bullying is a tough thing, and a kid who is bullied is twice as likely to attempt suicide. If you’re cyberbullied, you’re three times as likely to commit...

Jim: That, right there, is...

Jonathan: ...To attempt to commit suicide.

Jim: ...Really interesting because it - what it says to me is the cyberbullying cuts even deeper...

Jonathan: It’s a...

Jim: ...And it motivates people to...

John: Yeah.

Jim: ...Really take severe action. In fact, in your book, The Bullying Breakthrough, you talk about a story that I was very aware of. And this story has repeated itself all over the country, even here in Colorado Springs. Uh, Mallory Grossman - fill in the blanks about Mallory’s story. What happened to her? And, uh, what was the end result?

Jonathan: Yeah, you know, the stories all start to run together, but - young girl being teased heinously at school, it quickly jumps to cyberbullying because it’s no longer just jeers you hear in the cafeteria anymore.

Jim: And that...

Jonathan: It’s...

Jim: ...Spread to all - all the students that are linked together on social media.

Jonathan: Yeah. So also on social media outlets, they’re starting to hear this stuff - typical story in that, you know, let’s talk to the school administration. We do something. Oh, it’s not a big deal. Brush it under the table. And eventually, this girl commits suicide. The crazy thing is - 12 years old - 12 years old. And one of the glaring things to me right away is - and - and we talked about this on our last broadcast that we all did together when we talked about, uh, The Teen’s Guide to Social Media - 12-year-olds aren’t even supposed to be on social media. Um, you know, according to the FTC, according to COPPA, the Child’s Online Privacy Protection Act, uh, if...

Jim: Right...

Jonathan: ...Mallory...

Jim: ...They shouldn’t have access.

Jonathan: ...When Mallory went to sign up for - name it - any of those things she was bullied on - Twitter, Facebook, all this - you know, it said, “Sorry, you’re not old enough.” And so, sadly, a lot of young people are - you know, because all their friends are doing it - they’re lying about their age so they can get on this because everybody’s on it, right? Every parent hears that, “Mom, all my friends have a phone; all my friends are on social media.” So all of a sudden, if we’re telling our 11-year-old, 12-year-old, “You can’t be on it,” the tendency is for them to go sneak and get on it anyway. And this is one of the areas where they’re cyberbullied. And that’s why one of the things I really try to help parents with is I say, “Hey, you know what? I’m actually a big advocate of - of actually eventually giving our kids phones and teaching them how to use it before they’re 18.” But let me tell you something: a 12-year-old doesn’t...

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: ...Need to be on social media.

Jim: That’s way too early.

Jonathan: No.

Jim: I would totally agree.

Jonathan: Every expert...

John: Doesn’t have...

Jonathan: ...Says...

John: ...The tools to be able to handle it.

Jonathan: No, not at all.

Jim: You know, Jonathan, I’m gonna ask you, if you’re willing, to come back next time because your story continues to unfold. You were one of those kids that contemplated suicide with the amount of bullying you were getting.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: And I want the rest of that story next time. But I’m also aware, in the last couple of minutes here, we have parents who are putting the pieces together. They’re putting the dots together to say, “Oh, this is my child.” I mean...

Jonathan: Yeah.

Jim: “...She has said this, or she did do that” - or he. And I want you to be able to give a mom or dad who may suspect that their child is being bullied, or maybe even being a bully - um, how do we start that conversation around the dinner table tonight or in an appropriate place? What can a parent do to get the ball rolling, both for the bullied and then maybe my son or daughter are being the bullies? How would we start each of those conversations?

Jonathan: I think it’s the way parents need to start any conversation with young people today, and that’s by not freaking out, by not interrogating - because that’s our tendency, right? “Hey, do you see this? I just heard this show. And do you - is this happening?” And all of a sudden, they’re rolling their eyes and, “Mom, Dad, relax.” I think if we can approach it by maybe not talking about - think about this - don’t talk about our kids. Say, “Hey, have you seen this around your campus? You know, I heard a story today about this.” Or if you’re reading a story - that’s why I wrote a novel about this, because I want people to read stories - and then, “Hey, which character did you identify with?”

Jim: Right.

Jonathan: And start asking those subtle questions. So - and have that listening ear and observation because if we constantly are just having these very calm dialogues, we need to create that continual conversation, um, of calm dialogue. I think our kids, we might start to hear some stuff out of them...

Jim: Yeah.

Jonathan: ...With identifying exactly who are they.

Jim: Well I think, you know, we haven’t covered this enough in this program; I admit it. Uh, next time, let’s do that. But, you know, rooted here is becoming more like Christ. I mean, as Christians, this is the message - how do we step up and show the fruit of the spirit, the love, the joy, the peace, the kindness, the mercy, even as a 12, 13-year-old?

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Jim: You can do that, especially as a follower of Christ. And that’s where we need to root that response. And I - as a mom or a dad, tonight, if you want to start that conversation, talk about the fruit of the spirit - what it means to be a Christian convicted to live a life in that way. And then it will show itself in the way you treat people. Use that as the kind of denominator. And then at school, do you see kids behaving like Christ? Now, those would be good ways to do that. Are you behaving as Christ would behave? How do you treat people that are being bullied that you might see? That’s a wonderful way, I think, to get that discussion going because...

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Jim: ...It’s a twofer. You get a spiritual lesson, and you’re also learning how to treat people well. Jonathan, this has been great. Let’s come back...

Jonathan: Yeah.

Closing:

Jim: ...And continue to talk about this. Uh, turning to the listener, let me say, uh, this is why we’re doing the program. I’m a parent of two teenage boys. I need to hear this as well. Um, there’s no perfection. Parenting is an art, and we’re trying to provide you an easel, maybe some colors, to paint into your child’s heart those things that are valuable, those things that are eternal. And I hope we’ve started to do that today. Bullying is rampant, and you need to be aware of what’s going on in your child’s life.

John: Mmhmm.

Jim: And I hope, uh, that Jonathan’s comments here, along with his book, The Bullying Breakthrough, will be a start to help you be a better parent. 

John: And you can learn more about Jonathan and get his book, The Bullying Breakthrough, at our website, focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call us and we’ll be happy to tell you more - 800-232-6459 - 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And a reminder that Focus on the Family is listener supported. We need your help to continue creating programs like this and offering resources to families in need. So please, donate generously today. And when you make a monthly pledge or a one-time gift of any amount to the ministry of Focus on the Family, we’ll send a copy of The Bullying Breakthrough as our thank you gift to you.

On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller and I hope you can join us tomorrow as we continue this important conversation with Jonathan McKee and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

  • Featured PDF

    Free Resource: Standing Up Against Bullying

    Focus on the Family

    Our free Standing Up Against Bullying guide will equip you to help your family deal with bullying – whether your child is being bullied, witnessing it happen to a friend, or even taking part in the bullying.

    Read More
  • Featured Initiative

    Counseling Services and Referrals

    Focus on the Family offers one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective.

    Read more
  • Featured PDF

    The Bullying Breakthrough: Peer Intervention

    Jonathan McKee

    We can help our kids make a bullying breakthrough by teaching them "The Five Rs."

    Read More
  • Featured Article

    Mean Kids or Bullies: What's the Difference?

    Danielle Pitzer

    Teaching children how to recognize the difference between unkindness and being bullied

    Read more
More Episode Resources

Guest

Jonathan McKee

View Bio

Jonathan McKee has authored 20 books including If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect With Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid, More Than Just Talk and Sex Matters. He has more than 20 years of experience in youth ministry and offers the wisdom he's gained through that experience as he speaks around the world to parents and youth leaders. Jonathan and his wife, Lori, have three children and reside in California. You can learn more about Jonathan by visiting his blog, as well as his website, www.TheSource4Parents.com.