“Mean Girls” — everyone is so familiar with this label since the airing of the 2004 movie, starring Lindsay Lohan. The “mean girl” phenomenon has since been exacerbated by reality tv such as “The Real Housewives” and movies such as “Bad Moms,” which give the notion that “mean girls,” never go away and that they are ever-present at any age.
The truth is that mean girls have always been around; they have just never received as much attention and flack as they do now. Now, let me say this. Attention is something that they desire, but do not deserve. Flack is something they probably hope to not receive, but more than deserve.
I can recall plenty of times that I have encountered mean girls in my life — in high-school, in college, on my sports teams, in the workplace, etc. Even as a parent, I can observe, and sometimes still have to deal with, other moms whose catty behavior probably qualifies them as a “mean girl”.
Now…my daughter is only five, so the level of “meanness” that she encounters from other girls her age, is minimal, thank goodness. Still, as a mindful parent, I have noticed subtle flecks of insulting and coarse behavior aimed in my daughter’s direction. As I am not naive and fully aware that this is only the beginning of her being the target of someone else’s ungracious behavior, I feel that I have a responsibility to her, to guide, instruct and teach her the appropriate way to deal with other girls, or people in general, who will inevitably be cruel towards her.
Here is what we should be telling our daughters about mean girls:
— When someone is being mean to you, it is an action that is occurring because of something going on with them; not something going on with, or caused by, you.
What can you do about it? Help that person figure out what is going inside of them. Let them know that you come from a place of understanding and that you want to help them.
— That, people who are being mean to others, typically need and want attention.
What can you do about it? Give them some attention or alternatively, don’t. If you give them attention, be sure that it is positive in nature. If you decide to not give them the attention, because of course, they don’t deserve it and have not earned it, then inform someone, like an adult, who can give them the attention they so desperately need.
— That being mean, typically comes from a place of insecurity.
What can you do about it? Help the person feel more secure about themselves, by offering kind words in return. If they cannot pinpoint what they are insecure about, help them to discover such.
— That people who are mean, aren’t always mean and that “mean girl” you are encountering, may just be having a bad day.
What can you do about it? Don’t base your sole opinion about this person on your one bad encounter. Understand that people have bad days and that your interaction with this person may have, unluckily, been on a bad day for them.
Here is what I plan to remind my daughter about herself:
— That you are made of strength. That you are strong in mind and are capable of discerning the fact that being strong, doesn’t always mean you have to fight back. That being strong sometimes means not letting nonsensical actions or words bring you down. That sometimes being strong means waking away.
— That you are capable of leading with kindness. We’ve all heard of the familiar phrase “Kill them with kindness”. I don’t want you to do that. I want you to bring them alive with kindness.
— That words are just words, but when you use them, speak with integrity. Don’t use hurtful words towards yourself or others and definitely don’t gossip. Only use your words to spread joy and speak the truth.
— That you should always be respectful. That you should respect other people’s feelings even if those feelings lack validity, in your opinion, as you never know what other people’s feelings mean to them.
Overall, what I want most for my daughter, is to for her to be a person that always comes from a place of respect and kindness for others; whether those “others” are deserving of such or not. My hope is that if she remains as beautiful on the inside, as she already is, and that she leads with this inner beauty, she will only attract those who are drawn to such. Still, I know that there will be many occasions, now and when she is older, that she will come across rude people and in those instances, I hope and wish for her that she will remember these teachings.
“Spread love as thick as you would Nutella”. – Unknown