Navigating Mean Girls :: National Bullying Prevention Month

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Tonight, I had a conversation with my daughter on a topic that I had not yet prepared myself for as a mother of a second grader- the mean girl.

So and so was mean to me today.

I’m sorry you feel that way. How were they mean to you?

She yelled at me to “stop” and pushed me.

And what were you doing to her?

…trying to play with her.

It was as simple as that. My jaw dropped.

Why was my knee jerk reaction to default to my child doing something wrong or provoking this treatment upon herself? I was immediately disappointed in myself for my lack of trust in her and saddened to realize that her little heart is currently so invested in friendships that may never pan out.

My following advice to my daughter was the PG version of the rage party commencing in my head.

Can you go play with someone else instead?

They are all playing with their other best friends.

Well don’t you have a best friend?

Yes, but sometimes I’d like to play with other friends.

Well, I understand that. So, why don’t you take a break from the mean girl and play with your other friends for a while?

Okay, but how long does that take? A day? A week?

However long it takes for you to actually feel happy when you play with the mean girl again. Do you ever actually enjoy playing with her?

Ummmm, no? She’s always bossy and yelling and telling me what to do.

Well then if it’s not fun why do it? Why do you want to play with her?

(Then we get to the real root of her concern.)

I’m scared she will take all my friends away from me. Then I’ll have no one to play with.

What a deep thought to have for such a little 7 year old body, and I realized as the words were coming out of my mouth that I, too, needed to hear them and heed them in my life. It went something like this:

Sometimes we need to take a break from a certain friend, give them space to work through whatever is frustrating them or give them time to play with someone else instead, if that’s what they want. If they are mean to that friend too, guess what? They will eventually run out of friends once everyone realizes it’s no fun to be “friends” with a mean girl.

Sometimes in life we have different kinds of friends.

Best Friends – You will not be BEST friends with everyone. Quality over quantity.

Good Friends – Sometimes you have friends who you really enjoy spending time with but may not get the chance to see as often as you’d like. But the time you do spend together is precious and valuable.

Acquaintances – Friends who you keep up with and put a smile on your face when you cross paths or run into them unexpectedly.

Bullies are NOT friends.

None of the above friends should yell at you, unless they are cheering you on!

None of the above friends push you, unless they are “pushing” you to be a better version of yourself.

None of the above friends should depreciate your value to their lives, and should actually enrich your life through their friendship.

Now, everyone is human, and we may not always be the stellar version of the friend that our friends need us to be. We may slip up and have a “mean girl” moment from time to time, but true friends will work it out and their friendship will grow stronger because of it.

So, I sit back and ask myself…

Why do we care so much? Why, as females, do we feel the need to try so hard to seek other females’ approval? Why do we feel the need to foster one-sided friendships? Why do some friendships have to be so hard? Do we, as grown adults, still yearn to be part of the cool crowd even if they are less than desirable on the friend-o-meter? Do mean girls ever change?

I hope for the sake of my daughter, she learns to let go and move onto putting her time and energy into other friendships. I pray that she can get over the “mean girl.” But for tonight, I kiss that sweet, second grade, tear soaked cheek and hold her a little tighter because her heart is hurting through this navigation of “mean girls.”

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