Triumphing over Teasing

We can rejoice in our God-given freedom from untrue labels and labeling tactics. Jesus reminds us that we're in good company when persecuted, but he also expects us to triumph over evil-doing.

By Caryl W. Krueger

Categories: Beatitudes, Family, Fear, Gospel of Matthew

Teasing, name-calling, bullying - these unlovely tactics seem to be a part of growing up at many schools, and even in some families. Bible messages are a great support to a parent when helping a youngster handle these threats: they can dissolve any negative impact and even transform hateful disrespect into loving respect.

When a child first mentions these abuses, be quick to comfort and understand his feelings. Reassure him that there is nothing wrong with him that deserves taunting. God made him perfect, complete, winsome, intelligent - and happy!

A good Biblical springboard is the Beatitude from Matthew 5, verses 11 and 12. Jesus says: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." The Ferrar Fenton translation, The Complete Bible in Modern English, translates "rejoice" as "Be glad and delighted!" That's right, don't just suffer through it - be delighted to triumph!

Talk about the importance of loving the abusive friend and not responding in kind. It is not easy to smile and laugh when teased, but it is a good response. One youngster said to his teaser out of the blue: "I love your sense of humor." And that was the end of months of teasing. A child can rejoice in his refusal to take part in bullying or to be crushed by it. This is one more occasion for responding with the Golden Rule of treating others as we'd like to be treated.

Learning this lesson doesn't take place in an easy, one-time discussion. A wise parent comes back to a troubling occurrence and underscores the importance of not savoring the defeat or correction of the persecutor. There should be no joy in seeing another's punishment, but there should be quiet rejoicing in everyone's improved attitudes.

Of course parents have recourse to go to the school administration if the bullying continues, but approaching the challenge with active prayer can make this unnecessary. Setting the proper home example is important. There should not be mean teasing between siblings, no name calling or labeling by parent or child, no bullying tactics to accomplish home activities. Some homes outlaw certain words, such as "stupid." And a wonderful line to share regularly with children is, "I love you no matter what." Don't let verbal abuse enter your home. Remember the words of David Bates, an American poet of the 19th century whose poem is also used in a hymn:

"Speak gently, it is better far to rule by love than fear;
Speak gently, let no harsh word mar the good we may do here.
Speak gently to the erring ones, they must have toiled in vain;
Perchance unkindness made them so: O win them back again.
Speak gently, 'tis a little thing, dropped in the heart's deep well;
The good, the joy that it may bring, Eternity shall tell."