I hope everyone reading in the United States had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Holiday last week! When I thought about what to write after taking the holiday week off, I contemplated the numerous discussions I had both in and out of the consulting room regarding people’s varied feelings about being with family during the holidays.
Families bring up powerful feelings and interpersonal dynamics. It’s inevitable that old family dynamics are stirred up around the dinner table and that’s what makes the holidays so difficult, our past is present…AGAIN. Sometimes the bullies of our childhood were not kids on the playground but our siblings, parents, and extended family members.
I am a huge admirer of the Ophelia Project and the work that they do. I received an email from them announcing the launch of their new blog! I was excited to hear about the blog because the content is of stories of student’s experiences of relational aggression. The tag line to their blog is, “Because everyone deserves to feel safe and accepted.”
I conceptualize relational aggression as a different type of bullying. The Ophelia Project defines relational aggression as:
… behaviors that harm others by damaging, threatening to damage or manipulating one’s relationships with his/her peers, or by injuring one’s feelings of social acceptance.
- Purposefully ignoring someone when angry (giving the “silent treatment”)
- Spreading rumors about a disliked classmate
- Telling others not to play with a certain classmate as a means of retaliation.
It’s easy to focus only on tragic stories related to bullying (i.e. Amanda Todd’s death), giving parent more tips on how to keep their child safe or looking at how bullying has long term mental and physical health consequences. It’s also important to recognize that people are stepping up and changing our bullying culture! Personally, after a harrowing week post-Sandy and still experiencing the effects of the devastating storm, it was refreshing to find something optimistic to blog about this week.
As I’m sure you know the Mid-East Atlantic Coast has been pummeled by Hurricane Sandy. I am based in New York City and it has been quite difficult to manage! I am blessed that my home is safe, and while my private practice office in Union Square remains in the dark , the Freedom Institute office is running with a skeleton (and DEDICATED) staff!
I hope to be fully up and running by early next week. If you can, donate to the American Red Cross to help our fellow Americans in need. Additionally, here’s an excellent post on to how to be of service. While this is not directly related to bullying, if we can help those in need it fosters empathy and compassion within us – two things that do beat bullies.
As a native NJ/NY resident seeing places that I’ve loved my whole life – the New Jersey Shore and Long Beach, NY – and the the neighborhood I consider my second home – Union Square, NY – broken is heartbreaking.
Thank you for reading!
Statue of Liberty photo available from Shutterstock