The Letter I Want My Daughter to Read If She Gets Bullied

The issue of bullying and kiddo meanness surfaced when I recently talked to other special needs parents. It made me realize our battle against bullying may be a tough one, but it’s one I know we can win together.

The other day I was swapping stores with a friend whose child also has some physical limitations. She shared that her 4-year-old was made fun of in a bouncy house because she didn’t “hop like everyone else.”

Is nothing sacred anymore? 4 years old?! A bouncy house, for god’s sake?! What is this world coming to?

After we had that out of the way, we moved on to how to parent during that tough, horrible moment. We agreed the best course of action is helping your child, your baby, through the bullying just as we were helped by our loved ones.

One hard lesson I’m going to need to learn as a parent: Kids get picked on. It doesn’t matter what you do to protect them; it’s bound to happen at some point. And I think our job as parents is to help them learn from it, to treat others with respect and to move on and be stronger because of it.

To my own baby girl, I hope you read this one day and know your mom truly gets it.

My Dear Olivia Michelle, 

This letter is for you to read when you’re sad and feel alone, like the world is against you.

You are not alone.

I was picked on. A lot. The random person standing next to you at the store was also picked on.

One day, you’ll find people who love you for who you are, I promise.

When you’ve had your feelings hurt, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. I know because I’ve been there. Not because of spina bifida or some other disability; just for being a kid who was different in some way from everyone else.


Exhibit A that Mom “gets it”:

In fourth grade, I got glasses six months into starting a new school. I went from semi-popular to bottom of the barrel practically overnight. My “friends” wrote a play about me where I got beat up (perhaps worse, I really blocked out the details), and I didn’t go to my last two weeks of school because they made me feel so horrible. Then we moved back to Illinois. (Yay!)

This photo is from 1992, pre-glasses. I can’t find one from the time post-glasses. (I probably didn’t want to take them after the play was written.)

Exhibit B:

During school my nickname was “Chewbacca”  like the character from “Star Wars.” Funny, right? And now it may even be cool, but this was way before Star Wars was cool. I got the name because I had dark hair on my arms.  No seriously. That happened. By my friends — people I actually liked (and still do like).

So what’s the point of sharing these two examples (of many more)?

Because you will thrive. Each time you encounter a stumble, you will get back up. Children can be cruel, mean and vicious. But they’re also loving, caring, developing, nurturing and supportive. For all the mean I experienced, there was always good.

And remember, sometimes a friend can hurt your feelings but still be part of the good. Don’t forget that either.

Forgive as much as humanly possible.

Find the good, baby girl. It’s there, I promise.

Find what makes you happy, and never be anything other than you.

For all the tough days, there will be so many days of light. I can’t wait to help you discover them.

This message isn’t just to my Olivia. It’s to all children bullied, picked on and just feeling down. You will get past it. You will. Don’t let the bullies and meanies win.

I love you,


mom and daughter

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