'Are You Giving Me This Atomic Wedgie Because You Miss Your Daddy?'
Say, kids, the next time the school bully is giving you an atomic wedgie, try looking deep into his eyes with a sympathetic expression and tell him, "Wow, looks like someone misses his Daddy."
If this only escalates the severity of the wedgie, feel free to cite a Vanderbilt University study that concludes children are more likely to become bullies if their fathers work long hours and don't pay them enough attention.
Of course, the wily bully might shoot back with something like, "Yeah, well my mom works long hours too, doofus!"
In that case, be ready with a quote from Andre Christie-Mizell, an associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt's Nashville, Tenn., campus (and one of the lead researchers in the study).
"This is one of those cases where the non-finding -- that Moms' hours and the perceptions (of time spent together) aren't significant factors -- is pretty important because that's not what conventional wisdom tells us," Christie-Mizell tells the Vancouver Sun.
Building on this quote, explain to the bully that working moms spend a great deal of time with their children by default because they still shoulder most of the responsibilities as housekeepers and family managers.
Meanwhile, researchers suspect, working fathers might need to set aside specific time to spend with their children.
Suggest the bully sit down with both his parents and discuss the family schedule, carving out some quality time with Dad. Add that you will do your part by going to the school principal to suggest teachers and administrators do more to involve fathers in the educational process without relying so much on mothers.
"In the '60s and '70s, as women were starting to enter the labor force, there was a lot of hysteria around what was going to happen to our children, what would happen to our communities, would children all become delinquent? The finger was pointed at mothers, so there was a lot of mother-blame," Christie-Mizell tells the Sun.
"Now, 30, 40 years later, we revisit the question and find it's not true," he adds.
If you share all this information with the bully, who knows? You might start a real dialog. He might break down and start crying about his strained relationship with his father. The whole thing could be very cathartic -- for both of you.
And a day that started with an atomic wedgie could end sharing scones and hugs with a new friend. Or you might get the snot pounded out of you as the spaz who quotes university studies.
There are too many variables to accurately predict an outcome. More research is needed.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.