Is there anything more infuriating than a bully? Well, possibly the people that enable the bullying. As kids, bullies scare us and make us feel broken. As adults, the same — except now we realize that bullies are created and allowed to thrive. Oh, and that they are probably suffering from childhood trauma that was never addressed for a number of toxic reasons.
If you think your child is becoming a bully, talk to them! It’s not a normal part of growing up that people systematically terrorize other people.
On Reddit, one parent is taking steps to raise awareness about the bully in his family — his stepson.
And it’s shaking up his family.
“My stepson Austin  has a cousin (aged 14) who has a burn scar that covers his arm and neck. Austin picks on him constantly with hurtful comments. Some of the stuff he says is (‘are you still able to make friends looking like that?’) or (‘how are you going to get a girl to go out with you when you’re looking like that?’) And more, it’s infuriating because my wife, her family think this form of ‘teasing’ is okay since that’s his cousin, but I couldn’t handle sitting there watching Austin treat his cousin like that. I truly felt disgusted as I had a burn scar from a truck accident, but it’s concealed so it’s not the same but it struck a nerve in me. Plus, my nephew in law clearly felt awful but nobody cared enough to notice.”
The OP brought up how he felt about Austin’s bullying, but she didn’t seem to think much of it. She called him silly for using the word “bullying” and that they were just behaving like boys. The OP said next time the bullying happens, he wouldn’t remain silent.
“We were at my in law’s having dinner when Austin asked me to pass him the salad plate. His cousin was right next to him so he tried passing the plate to Austin but Austin got grossed out and yelled at him to not touch the plate with his ‘burnt’ hand. I was stunned, and expectedly, no one said anything.”
“I told Austin that what he was doing was wrong, that he would never look good by making someone else look bad, that’s what bullies do and he was being a bully. He was shocked and the family were quiet as I continued that If he thought doing this stuff will make him look superior then that’s a sorry state to be in and it shows how it clearly reflects his own insecurities and he should find a healthy outlet for these insecurities instead of feeding his confidence off of people’s unfortunate circumstances. I said his cousin has no control over his injury but he on the other hand has control over how he treats others.”
Austin ran up the stairs. Dinner was ruined (oh well!) and the OP’s wife was very upset saying that she shouldn’t have called him a bully to his face and in front of the family. They asked the OP to apologize, but he said nope!
Look, bullying is never okay no matter what age. The sooner a bully learns that, the better. And at age 19, you are no longer ignorant of what bullying means and how harmful it can be. This was a lesson that needed to be taught much earlier.
“Dear lord NTA. How was everyone else OK with this? Good for you being the only compassionate or mature individual in the room. Also a 19! year old adult bullying a 14 year old child?! More of the same ‘boys will be boys’ bullsh*t we see all too often excusing atrocious actions,” observed sepher32.
“NTA. You called a bully a bully to his face and as is usually the case with bullies, he couldn’t take it and ran away. Austin is 19 years old and should be well aware that no one deserves to be treated the way he treated his cousin. You do NOT owe Austin an apology,” said Consistent-Leopard71.
“So if Austin was doing that to someone that wasn’t related, would they have an issue? or is it just blood relation that throws all morals out the window? I would have a serious conversation with your wife and in-laws, explaining that you are also a burn victim so you know what it’s like to have to look at that every day of your life. They need to understand the reason that 14yo hasn’t spoken up that it hurts him is because he sees that his family isn’t defending him anyway, so what’s the point,” advised intergalacticcircus_.
“NTA, but absolutely apologize, as in ‘I am sorry for calling you out on your behavior. It must have been shocking to have to look at your behavior when it’s clear no one has called you out before! I do hope that after the embarrassment wears off you can consider how it feels to your cousin to be constantly called out and embarrassed for his accidental scars. Again I really hope this can turn out to be a productive turning point for you and that we can continue to support each other as family should! I care for both of you which is why I brought this uncomfortable subject to your attention,'” suggested mochidog12.
“NTA. You’re doing good parenting work here. Apparently you’re the only one who is but way to go. The only thing I’d do differently is go ahead and talk to your stepson and be gracious about accepting his apology. That doesn’t mean you aren’t keeping an eye out for future problems, but go ahead and role model an honorable acceptance. And then get your wife to a marriage counselor. Id be having a real hard conversation about what sort of emotional tone I want in my home and this sure isn’t it. And then get your stepson into a therapist. One thing counselors are learning about bullying is that it doesn’t stop until you figure out what’s going wrong in the bully’s life. We’re pack animals at heart and older kids don’t usually turn on younger kids. If an older kid is using his position to be cruel, something isn’t right. It could be his family is role modeling bullying his cousin, someone else bullied him, he’s depressed or he’s flaming out at school- who knows. But something’s wrong. As tempting as it is to just kick his ass, it won’t get at the root of the problem,” said capmanor1755.