Edgy Mama: Bullying and suicides — a letter to my kids

Dear kids,

You are now at the ages where you may see and hear about and even experience bullying. You know already that it’s wrong — that bullies are cowards who need to hurt others in order to feel better about themselves.

You understand, I think, that mistreating other people is reprehensible.

Even though I’m your mom, I try not to lecture you. I don’t like being lectured, and I try not to treat people in ways I don’t want to be treated.

That said, sometimes I need to tell you things about life and the world, and I hope I can do so in a loving way. And I hope you can listen. Even though I am your mom.

So here’s the main thing I need to tell you: nothing, nothing that happens to you, will be so bad that it won’t get better. Nothing.

Well, there’s cancer and accidents and taxes, but you can survive even these in many cases.

I’m telling you this because recently some kids, who were older than you, but still kids — teenagers — killed themselves because other kids bullied and embarrassed them.

Everyone makes mistakes. I’ve told you this before. I make mistakes, your dad makes mistakes, you make mistakes, even your grandparents make mistakes. But there’s no mistake so bad that you should ever consider hurting yourself or anyone else because of it.

There will be times when you wonder if this is true. Times when you’re feeling so hurt that you’ll want to hide away and never come out. Times when you’re so angry that you want to lash out at someone who has hurt you or made you feel bad about yourself.

Don’t do it. Realize that even though the pain feels like it won’t ever disappear, it will. You will have better days. You will have joy and sunshine and dogs licking you on the nose. You will survive slights and embarrassment. You will learn not to hold grudges or want to cause yourself or other people pain.

What I’m saying here is that you might, at some point, be bullied because of something you do or say or believe in. Or just because someone doesn’t like how you look or act. Or because someone needs to feel superior to you. If this happens, you need to recognize that it’s bullying and that it’s not about you. If this happens, find someone you trust to talk with.

There are many more good people in your lives than bad people and us good people are always, always here for you. You might be scared or embarrassed, but if you find a good person or people to talk to, you can get through anything. 

And to reiterate: Nothing, nothing is so bad that it won’t get better.

I hope that you truly understand that bullying others is never OK. The kids who did the things that hurt the kids who killed themselves are facing, not just criminal prosecution and prison, but living forever with having done something horrible.

Their families will still love them, but their lives will never be the same.

I know it’s sometimes hard to remember that actions have consequences, though it’s something that you’re learning already (i.e., if you hit your brother or sister, you lose your video game time — that’s an action with a direct consequence).

You are smart kids, and I hope you’ll continue to have empathy and love both for yourself and for others.

This won’t be the last time I’ll tell you this. It’ll probably drive you a little crazy. Because I’m your mom, and it’s my responsibility to drive you a little crazy. But mostly, I’m telling you this because I love you.



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4 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Bullying and suicides — a letter to my kids

  1. KMW

    Thank you so much for this article. I am the younger sister of a brother who was the kid everyone picked on. We lived in a small town and my brother was harassed, teased, and bullied daily by kids older and younger than him. He once was punched in the face which broke his glasses and he ended up with glass in both eyes. They once put him in a dumpster and pushed him down a flight of stairs. These are just the worst the stories I remember. I have been a lifelong advocate of stopping bullies. I’m not a very big woman, but I have a sharp tongue and have put myself between victims and bullies more times than I can count.

    Just remember, bullies can only bully if they are not challenged. In my experience, even the slightest challenge from a tiny woman with a big mouth will make them back down. One person can make a difference if they stand up to the bully.

  2. tracey

    I had the same conversation with my boys and asked my 13 YO about standing up for kids being bullied – if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. he said kids use the words “gay” and “retarded” carelessly but if he stood up then he would be the one bullied. The bullies would say he must be “gay” if he had a problem with the word. SIGH.

  3. M.E.

    Tracey, I hope you explained to your 13YO that:
    a) it is still the right thing to do – to give a little of yourself to protect someone in need
    b) he can say gay means happy, and he is happy and heterosexual

    Teach him gay is not equivalent to something bad.

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