Tag Archives: because he likes you

He Was Mean Because He Liked Me

 

A Mighty Girl's photo.
This post showed up in my newsfeed today on Facebook. I agreed with it & it struck a chord, so I reposted it. A few friends chimed in with comments lamenting the fact that it does still happen today, in 2016. They see it all the time at playgrounds, in schools, and don’t know how to react. So they don’t.
It’s great that we all agree that this is wrong, but the fact that ADULTS see it happen and don’t do anything about it is just as bad as the ill-deed itself. Ignoring it is enabling the bully (and they adult saying it), causing the problem to thrive.
So what’s the big deal about a little teasing? What if it’s because the boy really does like the girl? Really, there isn’t any harm right…it’s just a phase, right?
I grew up in a small town where this was all perfectly acceptable. At daycare, when I was about 7, a boy trapped me under a plastic kiddie slide and shook me so hard my teeth rattled. It hurt and it was scary. I was told he liked me & sent back out to play. In fourth grade my best friend was repeatedly slammed into a fence. The boy’s hands were around her neck as her head wobbled back & forth. “Boys can play rough,” she was told. “Go play by the swings instead,” she was told. I witnessed another friend in middle school being slammed into a locker, presumably because the boy might have had a crush on her. I was tripped, shaken, pulled, and tossed and simply told to ignore it or assume that some kid liked me. In gym class while running the mile for our yearly physical fitness test one boy jogged up alongside me. “You know I’m going to break your legs,” he said with a huge grin. Even though I was the best, I still came in second that day.
I was becoming afraid of boys, of attention, and saw no point in bringing it up to any adult. After all, I was just popular, right? The message that I was getting was that boys liked me & they showed it by hurting, and I was supposed to be flattered, and possibly like them back. If for some silly reason I didn’t like them back then I was the one who had to remove herself from the area, who had to pretend it wasn’t happening, who had to give up a little. Instead of wearing any armor, I had to curl up into a ball and wait for the danger to be over.
When I was a teenager I was dragged into the woods where my boyfriend wanted to have sex with me. I was supposed to be happy that someone liked me, that I was good enough for sex. I couldn’t complain in college because he didn’t mean to hurt me. I was told by police that my harasser & stalker “just liked me & wanted attention” and “thing like this tend to happen to pretty girls.”
I wonder if my relationships with boys & men would have escalated to rape, stalking, fear, bruises if an adult had stepped in and said something when I was 7. If someone told that little girl that it was not acceptable behavior would she have been stronger? Would she have had armor instead?
Please don’t use this line and please don’t let others use it. It sets both children up for a very screwed up, confusing history of what healthy relationships are. The concepts of like/love and relationships become very warped when adults permit violence (and it IS violence) among children in the name of “love”. It teaches the bully that he or she can take what they like by force. It teaches the victim that there isn’t really anything wrong…maybe they are wrong. It’s hurtful to both parties and probably not true.
A Mighty Girl

When girls get teased or bullied by boys, there’s often someone who pulls out this tired phrase: “I bet he likes you!” Joanna Schroeder vividly remembers finally going to a teacher about a boy’s constant harassment at age 11, and how that phrase made her feel: it “filled me with a shame so profound, I never again told an adult about something a boy did to me.” In her recent article, “You Should Never Tell Your Kids He’s Mean Because He Likes You,” Schroder writes, “You’d think blaming bad behavior on a crush would be dead and gone by now, but it’s not.” To encourage parents and other adults to think about what “he must like you” really teaches, she breaks down the four reasons we need to stop associating mistreatment with romantic affection.

Schroeder argues that “I bet he likes you” is a covert way of victim-blaming. “Your child did not ask for this negative attention, regardless of the aggressive kid’s intention. Even if your child was acting flirty or teasing, nobody asks to be hurt.” That victim-blaming “tells [your child] that you are not a source of support for them when they need you most.” Dismissing bad behavior, she says, is also bad for the bully: “Bad behavior is bad behavior, regardless of the reason why. A child — whether it’s a boy or a girl — who is harming another needs intervention so they don’t continue the behavior…. Instead of asking the child who is doing the hurting if they like the other, grownups should ask the child to imagine how their friend felt when he or she was hurt.”

Equally importantly, Schroeder says that “kids’ friendships shouldn’t be romanticized. Kids need the opportunity in childhood to have friendships with boys or girls, regardless of their gender, without grownups introducing the adult notions of romance or attraction. Strong friendships with kids of all genders are important for kids, and parents shouldn’t make their kids feel funny about them.” If bad behavior from a male friend is immediately associated with romantic feelings, kids will begin to believe that friendships between boys and girls are inherently different than same-sex friendships. And even if a crush does develop, she points out, “one child’s crush should never become a burden to another.”

But perhaps most significantly, Schroeder writes, “You shouldn’t teach your kids that love equals abuse. Love equals kindness and respect, and it never, ever means touching someone in a way that will hurt them. When you tell your child that they were harmed because another person likes them, you’re connecting pain with love. That not only normalizes being abused, but also abusing others.” And this, more than anything, is why it’s time to put an end to saying “I bet he likes you,” Schroeder asserts. “As parents, we have the ability to change the world by putting an end to harmful old traditions… I’m not sure how the ‘dipping her pigtails in the inkwell’ trope started, but it’s time it ended.”

To read all of Joanna Schroder’s advice on The Good Men Project, visit bit.ly/1OMJheL

To start teaching children — girls and boys alike — from a young age about the need to respect others and their personal boundaries, we recommend “No Means No!: Teaching Children about Personal Boundaries, Respect and Consent” for ages 3 to 6 (http://www.amightygirl.com/no-means-no) and “Your Body Belongs To You” for ages 3 to 7 (http://www.amightygirl.com/your-body-belongs-to-you).

For books about healthy relationships for tweens and teens — as well as titles on recognizing and ending unhealthy ones — check out our new blog post, “20 Mighty Girl Books for Tweens & Teens About Healthy Relationships,” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=11338

You can also find many bullying prevention books and resources for children and teens in our two blog posts: “‘The End of Bullying Begins With Me’: Bullying Prevention Books for Young Mighty Girls” (http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10255) and “Taking a Stand Against Bullying: Bullying Prevention Books for Tweens and Teens” (http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10257).

And, for books to help children learn how to be supportive and caring friends, visit our blog post “Making and Keeping Friends: Mighty Girl Books About Friendship” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10315