My five-year-old son’s birthday party was at our house, with all 20 boys in his senior kindergarten.
We didn’t invite the 20 girls in the same grade, due to limited space.
We served vegetarian pizzas because of dietary restrictions of a few kids.
As the party was winding down, one boy who doesn’t have any food issues, said he was still hungry.
My husband, knowing that child didn’t have a vegetarian-only diet, gave him a leftover chicken finger from our fridge.
When a mother arrived to pick up her son, she noticed the child eating the chicken. She didn’t say anything at the time.
Instead of contacting me personally – when I could’ve explained there was no direct effect on her child – she sent out a mass email, which included every parent whose child had been at the party and every parent of the girls who hadn’t been present.
She accused me publicly of feeding this boy meat, which her entire family doesn’t eat, and is well-known in his school.
All the boys’ mothers knew she was talking about me, when saying that the parent was “irresponsible and inconsiderate!”
I was publicly shamed.
How do I deal with an adult bully?
Not Kids Stuff
Public shaming has become easier – and more prevalent – through mass online accusations (usually without proof or other relevant facts), and using social media sites.
The woman was blatantly unfair since she asked no questions about what she saw.
Unfortunately, like all online bullies, she feels no fear or remorse for shaming you. Rather, she feels entitled to call you out.
Save the email and any other comments in case there’s more.
If the bullying continues and becomes harassment, or if you feel that the comments are harmful to your health and safety, you can alert police and also contact a lawyer.
Otherwise, consider just ignoring it.
Those present know you were thoughtful and attentive to the children’s food restrictions. One of them should tell her the facts of what actually happened.
I suggest you email only the school principal and teachers in that grade and explain what transpired.
Also, knowing the militancy of this woman about her food restrictions, and perhaps of others, your husband should know that even the appearance of a mistake can cause trouble.
Then drop it.
Adult online bullies don’t scare easily because they arouse believers through innuendo and inflated outrage.
Oxygen only fires up more rants.
My wife and I, both late-60s, made decent incomes and enjoyed travelling far and wide when we could.
Recently, we purchased a small cottage closer to home, for our coming retirement years.
We’re a second marriage, each with grown married children.
My sons are financially independent. But my wife’s daughter chose to work part-time despite being qualified in a high-end field to seek a high-salaried full-time position.
She’s constantly asking her mother and me to help pay for trips to match ours, which she and her husband can’t afford.
Her daughter’s shown open anger at us for “spending (her) inheritance.”
Reality check: Parents aren’t required to leave money to competent adult children.
Some do. Others die while trying to spend and enjoy any pensions and savings they worked for years to have.
Her mother needs to tell her she’s out of line.
Your previous help to her raised unrealistic expectations. Your only duty now is to yourselves, except in cases of emergency when you’d help anyway.
Reader’s Commentary “I’ve had many difficulties and had to find affordable resources to help me, which I’m hoping may help others.
Ellie - Readers can search online in their own areas for similar services:
- Walk-in counsellors are available through a family services group. You get a free one-hour session with a counsellor and you can go up to three times.
- The local Distress Line can be useful to people who feel desperate.
- Being an introvert and shy to talk in front of people, I joined Toastmasters, which helps with public speaking. It's non-profit, with many clubs. (https://www.toastmasters.org/)
- I think the best window of opportunity for making friends is when you're in your 20s. After that, everyone gets settled down. But now, there's Meetup.com. (https://www.meetup.com/).
“There are many clubs for every possible interest. I like to exercise so I joined various walking groups and social groups.”
Tip of the day:
Adult bullies thrive on public shaming. Fight back if you have a legal stance (e.g. slander, harassment) or ignore, if possible.