Not to take these measures to prevent bullies?

(45 Posts)
DomesticDisgrace Wed 26-Mar-14 09:52:16

This is something that comes up quite a lot.
People saying it's selfish for people to do x, y or z because their children may be bullied. AIBU and selfish to think this is a crazy way to think and it plays into the hands of bullies and panders to them!

For example, I had a big debate with a friend when Tina Malone had a baby at 50, my friend's argument was that the poor child would be bullied (I fully accept there are other valid arguments against having a child so late but pandering to bullies shouldn't be one of them!), I on the other hand thought it was amazing. The same arguments have been had for same sex couples and I just can't comprehend why we would focus on "fixing" the things that cause bullying rather than fixing the bullies and making it unacceptable.

The other day another one of my friends was telling me that because she lives in a block of flats in the inner city, her daughter absolutely has to have the latest in technology, clothes etc (it really is unbelievable, iphones at 9 and new brand name clothes every other week) or else she would be the laughing stock. Honestly I can't believe my friends attitude, she thinks it's ridiculous but claims I just don't know how it works in flats.

Same goes for giving children wacky names, while they might not be everyone's cup of tea, I hate hearing "Oh they'll be bullied" because I hate this notion that we should edit ourselves in case of bullies!
Don't get me wrong, while I'm extremely liberal it does boil my blood to see people purposely going out of their way to be wacky and prove how open minded they are.
I'm talking about actively going against what you really want for fear of bullies.

devoniandarling Wed 26-Mar-14 09:55:39

I agree with you completely. Nothing more to add really. And my children do have "different" names.

DomesticDisgrace Wed 26-Mar-14 09:58:55

Mine too Devon grin

I agree with you to a certain extent, I do think bullies shouldn't be pandered too but at the same time, kids do get bullied for this stuff. My kids do have unusualish names though...

DomesticDisgrace Wed 26-Mar-14 10:07:18

But Schro, they also get bullied for their hair colour, eyesight, being too smart, not being smart enough. If it wasn't for having two dads, an overweight mother, not having designer clothes every bank holiday etc surely it would be for something else?

I actually feel strangely cold about this because while I'm fiercely protective of my DD, I can't imagine taking these measures to protect her from them. I'd rather try to bring her to a mindset where we could roll our eyes and have a chuckle at the idiocy. I know how idealistic that sounds though confused

Martorana Wed 26-Mar-14 10:08:46


I think if you are going to get bullied, then you're going to get bullied. I would put bullying in a separate "box" if you see what I mean.

But deliberately doing something that might make your child's life more difficult when it's not necessary strikes me as being unkind. Yes, absolutely stick to your principles. But if it's your preference, rather than anything stronger than that, why not try and make your child's life easier rather than harder? Particularly when you are making a choice on their behalf.

The name thing is a good example. You are choosing someone else's name. not your own. I remember someone on Mumsnet sticking to wanting to call their baby Minnie, even after they were told that it's a common name for the female genitals among small children. It's just daft and unkind to do that. The child probably won't be bullied. But people will, at the very least,suppress a smile and might well laugh or make a joke. Which would be tedious.

I hate labels. But when my son started secondary school he wanted a coat that was the same label as the ones "all the other boys" had. So I got him one. It was a couple of quid more expensive, and I had to make a special trip to buy it. He would have been fine with a generic black coat. But with a little effort and a rotting of my teeth I could give him something that made him feel happy and confident, and made going to secondary school a bit easier.

It's all a judgement call.

RachelWatts Wed 26-Mar-14 10:09:33

"But their children will be bullied" was my mum's main objection to mixed race relationships.

LolaDontCryOnDogTails Wed 26-Mar-14 10:09:45

Get where you are coming from OP

But.... I was bullied, horribly horribly bullied
My mum & dad were very much like you in a don't pander to the bullies way.
I didn't have the latest things at the right times.
I had expensive clothes but never the ones everyone else had, they would go out of there way to make sure I was 'unique' and I was.
But it was pretty shit, if my kids ask for a pair of trainers because everyone has them I will get them, that will go for pretty much everything (within reason)

If my parents had given me options I think I would have had a happier school life, gone more and not ended up with the panic attacks and frankly debilitating insecurity that I have around any people.

Not that you are, but anyone please don't make a stand with your children.
If they want to that's fine but give them the chance to just blend in with everyone, the more I read on here about 'unique' 'quirky' kids on here I worry that the parents are pushing this onto their children.

Martorana Wed 26-Mar-14 10:10:09

Gritting of my teeth. Not rotting. I would have drawn the line at that!

Cobain Wed 26-Mar-14 10:11:08

My DB was bullied for being gay and then I was bullied for him being gay. He spent years in anguish. We should not change to accommodate bullies but we do have to acknowledge bullying and stop the route of bullying power. Some of those who teased me where not bullies they had just not been taught what was unacceptable, bearing in mind this was the 80 and some of their parents where openly homophobic. I would say parents scarred by bullying can be very protective.

DomesticDisgrace Wed 26-Mar-14 10:21:06

Lola that sounds like exactly the same childhood I had. My parents did mean well but I think I would have been happier if they hadn't been so focused on "not conforming". The first music tape I ever wanted for my birthday was boyzone and take that but instead they got me Madness and Oasis, while I now have excellent taste in music wink, I didn't actually enjoy them back then at all and the gifts we're totally wasted.

I'm not talking about going against what the children actually want (unless a completely ridiculous request) but I don't think I'd be happy to buy my DD all the latest gadgets and brand names "just so she fits in".

Perfectlypurple Wed 26-Mar-14 10:29:00

I was bullied at school. Mainly for not being rich!

I despair every time I hear of a teen taking their own life because of bullying. I sometimes think people should be isolated until mature/old enough to not bully at school and have our education in our twenties!

I know schools are meant to be anti bullying but in reality that means nothing.

I wish there was an easy answer.

MidniteScribbler Wed 26-Mar-14 10:40:29

I was teased as a child for my name. It's a common name in another country but very unusual here. I was determined to give my son a name that he did not have to spend his life spelling. If you've experienced bullying yourself whether it be name, clothing, etc, then you're likely going to try and avoid that for your own children.

I also googled his name to see if there were any negative connotations. I had to explain to a young mother why her plan to call her daughter Jhypzy-Rhose Lee was a bad idea.

Bullies are bullies - they will always pick on someone for some ridiculous reason, nothing can be predicted. My DS was bullied - I don't really know why but think mainly because he doesn't like football, don't think I could have forced him to like it just in case he got bullied over it.

However, I do think some things are asking for problems....sending your kid out in a woollie snot green cardi knitted by Granny Beryl or stuff like that or deliberately making them stand out....wrong and sad but true.

So no, I wouldn't want DS to stand out or be a target but you can't stop these things happening anyway no matter what measures you take.

My sister was bullied at school til my mum took her out - just because she is a sensitive soul - how can you change that?

Bunbaker Wed 26-Mar-14 10:55:09

I agree with Martorana and Lola

By all means don't play into the bullies hands, but why make it easy for them?

I wasn't bullied at school, but I was teased a lot, because my mum was and individual and not part of the crowd, and she wanted me to be the same, when all along I just wanted to be part of the crowd. I have an unusual name that caused much hilarity and ignorance and it was a major factor when I chose DD's name. So she has a name that people have heard of and can spell.

I think children should be encouraged to be individual, but it shouldn't be forced on them.

OwlCapone Wed 26-Mar-14 10:59:14

I was teased mercilessly because of a stupid name and my life would have been far better had I been called something else. It wasn't just the "bullies" it was an easy target for all normal reason throughout school and beyond.

Whilst I would agree to a certain extent, in the case of names why make it easy for your child to be teased by everyone? Even friends would have a little joke but they all added up to sheer hell.

StarSwirl92 Wed 26-Mar-14 11:00:02

I was bullied. It was my accent, my parents were from the north and we lived near Birmingham, so I had this really strong northern twang. For 8 years it was an every day occurrence. My kids will hopefully, be what they want and who they want to be. But I don't intend to pander to the bullies, that just teaches them it's ok to bully those who are different.

OwlCapone Wed 26-Mar-14 11:00:25

The things that make my children stand out are things that are their own choice, not something I have chosen for them and forced them to live with.

Bunbaker Wed 26-Mar-14 11:01:41

Well said Owl

thegreylady Wed 26-Mar-14 11:04:06

7 and a half years ago my dgs was named Finn which wasn't so common here then. His older cousin who was 9 said "it's not a teasing name anyway" which was a very telling comment.

I agree in the case of not having a child at "to old" an age, mixed race relationship (which is what me and my half sibling is from).

We suffered bullying because of racism.

I also suffered bullying because my parents didn't have me well dressed, or particulary clean, my hair needed washing every night, but my parents just didn't agree with this, so I went to school with greasy hair.

They set a budget for clothes, even though they could if afforded more and again I was picked on and stood out because of that.

My youngest DD had developmental delay and LD's, it was best that she played out wearing a tracksuit.

I bought her La Coste (top brand in the 90/00's).

It meant that she had some "street cred" from the kids in the area. So it made her life easier.

That's what I don't understand, why wouldn't you make your child's life easier, or afford them a decent portion of your disposable income, just to "prove a point".

I can understand your friends POV, unless she is getting seriously in debt.

My children have unique names, but not outside the UK.

I find the sneering about some names on MN has racist undertones.

Damnautocorrect Wed 26-Mar-14 11:05:16

On loose women yesterday Janet street porter said 'the best thing you can do for your kids is to teach them to fit in'
No no it's not, give them the confidence to make the choices and be the person they are.

Burren Wed 26-Mar-14 11:06:20

I'm with you, OP, although with huge sympathy for people who feel they were bullied for not conforming.

My perspective comes from the fact that I was bullied for being clever in two rough schools, notorious for violence and high rates of pregnancy, where being clever was a real disadvantage - with the result that I got very good at pretending to be stupid, and it took me until well into adulthood to be unapologetically clever and allow myself to achieve without being ashamed of it.

I had no support from my parents, because they thought that I must be 'getting above myself' and 'didn't want to make a fuss'. That, in fact, was the really damaging part - that both parents were happy to let my life be made a living hell for something that was generally considered a good thing, rather than go and see the Head.

All I can do for my son is to give him the tools to deal with bullying, should it happen, and ensure that he knows I will be 100% supportive of him, and will have no issues with raising hell with the school, should that be necessary.

"The things that make my children stand out are things that are their own choice, not something I have chosen for them and forced them to live with."

That works both ways.

In terms of not allowing your child to be Goth, say (which my youngest is now), or setting a spending limit, which doesn't really make sense.

Especially if the parents don't apply it to every other aspect of their own lives.

My Mother will still tut about what I spend on clothes, or household nick nacks, or my DD having her Make up professionally done, but will then spend as much on ciggies and alcohol.

Martorana Wed 26-Mar-14 11:22:55

"The things that make my children stand out are things that are their own choice, not something I have chosen for them and forced them to live with."


What I can't bear on name threads is when somebody say "I don't know if I'm brave enough to use it" It's not you who's going to have to be brave!

Burren Wed 26-Mar-14 11:35:04

Martorama, but what is the alternative, really? It's not that I'm unsympathetic to this view, but should we for instance all look to the most recent top ten names and just give our children one of those, so as not to stand out in the playground? And yet public fashion and social norms change, and also change from place to place.

My son was born in north London, and in my NCT group and regular coffee morning circles, there were babies named Ferdinand, Soren, Thiago, Ace, Mirandy, Augustus, Caoilfhionn and Tadeusz (to mention only the ones I can think of offhand, as it's a while ago). Now we live near an extremely conservative village where all small children are named Mia, Emilia/Amelia, George or Louis. Should I have foreseen this move when naming my child, in case we're still here during his school years?

OwlCapone Wed 26-Mar-14 11:39:24

There is world of difference between naming your child something daft and giving them an unusual name.

wowfudge Wed 26-Mar-14 11:40:54

OP - I agree with you. When I was a kid, my parents didn't have much money and we were frequently told we couldn't have everything we wanted because as a family we couldn't afford it. Yes, I got stick in school for not having XYZ - sometimes it was teasing, sometimes it was bullying, but now I appreciate that giving your children everything they want is not the right way to go and, frankly, the people who accepted me for being me at school, not because I had the same stuff as them, were the true friends and the people I have kept in touch with since then.

Morgause Wed 26-Mar-14 11:49:49

Almost everyone I know who had a really "out there" name changed it as soon as they were old enough to make the choice.

George Osborne was originally Gideon. Zowie Bowie couldn't wait to change his name as did the Zappa children. Several friends of mine (I'm that age) gave their children Tolkein or hippy names. Most of them changed them. I taught a couple of Ziggys, they don't call themselves that now.

When I was a teacher some children were teased or even bullied for the choices their parents made.

Make unconventional choices for yourself, not for your children. They may not have the confidence to carry it off.

starlight1234 Wed 26-Mar-14 12:13:17

Yes and no....

No you shouldn't make life choices to avoid been bullied but yes do think if your actions are going to risk your child been bullied...Making a child stand out as different is not helpful for them...If as a teen they don't want to follow the crowd that is their choice..

Think about what your child is like...Most children my sons age 6/7 just want to fit in and yes I do help my son do that...that doesn't mean he can do everything his friends does or gets something because his friends do.

Fecklessdizzy Wed 26-Mar-14 12:38:42

My two boys stick out like sore thumbs - but it's their choice to do so!

When they were little they wanted to look like their mates and have the same sort of stuff, which was fine. Now they rather revel in having different hair and different clothes, which is also fine. Their lives, their choices!

I don't think it's fair to make a point about how non-conformist you are ( and I'm well weird, trust me! grin ) when it's someone else whose going to be actually doing the non-conforming!

Bunbaker Wed 26-Mar-14 12:44:05

"Make unconventional choices for yourself, not for your children. They may not have the confidence to carry it off."

This describes my childhood. I didn't have the confidence to be a lentil weaving hippy when I was 7. I do now, but I am 55.

UncleT Wed 26-Mar-14 12:45:19

What are we defining 'wacky names' as? I mean, there's unusual or rare names, then there's Jeremy Kyle type 'wacky names' which tend to be contrived or bastardised American made-up names, rather than just uncommon.....

Anyway, YANBU.

LolaDontCryOnDogTails Wed 26-Mar-14 13:10:50

The other thing is that's its all well saying you're giving your children the confidence and the emotional tools to deal with bullying.
But I can guess you aren't, there aren't tools against bullying unless you are talking about removing the bullies (ie half of the school)

I did a great job at pretending to my parents that I was happy confident & cool because they put the pressure on me to do it.
I would agree with my dad on how stupid the clothes were because I was trying to impress him, whilst wishing I could have them.
After the 3rd time of asking and being told 'why would you want that, this is what you should have' I would just agree with him.

I cringe desperately when I hear or read parents telling their children 'witty' comebacks to bullies too, because they are going to make it worse for themselves just by listening to their parents, the same parents are usually the ones bragging that their children don't watch t.v that other kids watch & they don't listen to pop music.

I just think its selfish, I had fuck all to talk about with other kids because my parents wanted me to be more cool.

Sillylass79 Wed 26-Mar-14 13:31:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sleepyhead Wed 26-Mar-14 13:39:33

If you're an unconventional person, don't sneer at your child's choices / limit them just because they are conventional.

If you're a conventional person, don't sneer at your child's choices / limit them just because they are unconventional.

I've seen it both ways tbh.

LolaDontCryOnDogTails Wed 26-Mar-14 15:07:26

Sleepyhead says it well grin

Not to mention in around 100less sentences than I could.

MexicanSpringtime Wed 26-Mar-14 16:15:25

Re. bullying, in my experience children learn bullying from the significant adults in their lives, as often as not it permeates from the head teacher down through the school system. Due to my short experience as a substitute teacher is several different schools, I choose my daughter's school on the ethics of the head teacher and it was wonderful.

Unusual names: I gave my daughter an unusual name and the most common name in the world, in case she didn't like my first choice. She insisted on using her unusual name and has now given her own child an unusual name.

As for buying designer labels to avoid bullying, that is a hard one, but what a clever marketing ploy.

I was bullied for my accent
I was bullied for my quite ludicrous middle name which I have now eradicated from every piece of important paper apart from my Birth Certificate (because I cannot change that)
I was bullied because my mum wore her slippers to walk round to the shops.

I'm in my late 40s and TBH , I was a bit angry .
Why give me that name?
Why not put a pair of shoes on?

Pales into insignificance now.

Bunbaker Wed 26-Mar-14 16:33:24

"Sleepyhead says it well"

I agree

Thereishope Wed 26-Mar-14 16:35:22

Fashionable and good looking children are bullied too. Buying brand name clothes will not guarantee your dcs will not be bullied. Being good looking can create jealously.

I think it is down to personality and confidence. I was bullied at school - called ugly/frigid to name a few. I was definitely not the ugliest girl in my year. The bullies saw that I was weak and played on my flaws. My female peers had flaws that could have been picked up on.

MexicanSpringtime Thu 27-Mar-14 01:01:49

I think you are right, Thereishope, I think I was bullied in school because I reacted badly to being given a nickname, thus revealing my weakness.

PenelopeLane Thu 27-Mar-14 03:47:41

YANBU! You can't second-guess what someone may be bullied for, as so much depends on the child's confidence and so many other factors.

I think that, as a parent, you have to be very careful not to try too hard to prevent bullying, as there is a fine line between not letting your kids be bully-fodder (i.e. giving them a name like Fanny or Dick) and sending the message to them that being accepted by others is of utmost importance. I have one friend that said her kids couldn't learn musical instruments 'cause they might get bullied as only nerds play instruments, which I think is ridiculous. You just can't second guess what someone could be bullied for was well.

I was given a hard time when I was 11 because my family had a red car and my Dad wore suits. I was also made fun of because my Mum played squash. Within a year that had stopped though, as I became more confident, not because my family changed the car or my parents changed their clothes and hobbies.

OTOH I know a 8 year old boy who always wears girls clothes and has since he was about 3. People have said ad nauseum that his parents should stop him dressing how he wants because he'll be bullied, but that terrible bullying has yet to materialise and he's a very self-assured little boy.

OwlCapone Thu 27-Mar-14 07:25:45

You can't second-guess what someone may be bullied for

So why do you then go on to say you shouldn't let your children be bully fodder by calling them Fanny or Dick? That is taking measures to prevent bullies and thus you don't actually agree with what the OP says.

PenelopeLane Thu 27-Mar-14 09:30:24

You're right, owl. There is, of course, a chance that someone might be called Fanny or Dick and never be given a hard time about it. I remembered after posting that there was a boy at school whose surname was Dick and no-one cared, whereas another girl, Jane, was made fun of because of a character in Neighbours called Jane. Again, it can't be second guessed I suppose.

(And sorry to anyone whose children are called Dick or Fanny, those names sprung to mind after a recent read of Enid Blyton)

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