Do grown-ups experience bullying? When one adult treats another adult like a child, speaking down, finding fault, reprimanding – that smacks of bullying. It’s possible to understand what motivates the bully, even feel compassion for that person. That doesn’t mean one must submit to being treated like a child. To proceed appropriately takes a measure of confidence and requires some understanding of healthy boundaries.
I learned some useful tools when studying Cloud and Townsend’s book Boundaries, such as the establishing of healthy boundaries and using the phrase “I won’t be spoken to like that.” It is appropriate to withdraw from a situation and even a relationship that is intimidating, in which someone is breaking through healthy, appropriate boundaries.
There is a relationship in my life with which I am uncomfortable. I want us to be better friends but that may not be possible. All I can do is all I can do and I intend to do what is mine to do. That includes holding forth against being treated like a child. I cannot change this person but I can steadfastly remain adult and loving.
For a long time, as a people pleaser, I labored under the delusion that I needed to be nice all the time. This delusion trapped me in an attempt to communicate nicely within unhealthy relationships, actually giving the impression that it was okay to treat me like a child.
Only recently have I reached a profound conclusion: I do not have to enter into conversation with a bully. Meaningful conversation is impossible as long as the parent-to-child communication model is maintained and I am consistently seen as the recalcitrant child.
It’s sure a good thing that we can learn from situations in our lives. I want to be very sensitive to maintain an adult-to-adult communication style when interacting with adults. There is value in using that same model when interacting with children as much as possible also. They will appreciate it.
Update: Since I wrote the initial material for this entry God has done some amazing things within me that pertain to this relationship. If you want to know what they are check out my blog of 10/14/13.
What happened within my heart, by the grace and power of Almighty God, didn’t make it acceptable for this person to treat me in a condescending manner and I will still confront those behaviors. What God did was establish a new beginning and empower me genuinely to love in spite of unacceptable behavior. We are moving toward building a true friendship, adult-to-adult.