Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Dealing With "Mean Girls"

I've read that girls can be especially cruel to each other at school.  Boys can actually punch each other in the face and be best friends again the next day.  In fact, when my mom was a recess teacher, she broke up a fight between two boys, they got suspended, and then they ran away from home together (for a brief time).

I have three boys who are middle school aged and above, but I'm now navigating the waters with my daughter who just started 1st grade.  There was some mild drama in Kindergarten where I had to teach her why she didn't need to sit by the same girl on the bus every day.  I told her, "There are other kids who would like to be your friend too. "

They don't ride the same bus anymore, but my daughter wasn't aware that that would change things between them.  Today she saw her in the bathroom at school and she told my daughter, "I'm not going to be your friend anymore.  I have new friends now." 

I wanted to "fix" the problem. I wanted to call up the girl's mom and tell her what she said to her.  But what I ended up telling her is that sometimes girls are just mean.  As I told my oldest son, "I would rather have no friends than the wrong friends."  He's grown up to be a great kid who has had few close friends, which I think is hard sometimes, but he now sees what he passed up.  The boys he avoided at a younger age have gotten in trouble for stealing, throwing rocks at cars on busy streets, etc.  I went through a phase where I didn't hang out with anyone for a long period of time.  As many of my friends entered puberty, they started to rebel in many ways.  When I got a bit older, I made some friends for life in middle school and high school and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

I'm hoping I can teach my daughter to set boundaries while being kind.  I don't want her to be the type of girl who tries desperately to please everyone.  I don't want her sucking up to anyone for their "friendship".  For every mean girl, there are probably at least three girls who would be thrilled to be her friend.  I will have to help her prepare something to say when a girl has the nerve to tell her for no reason that she is no longer her friend.  I'm not sure what that would be.

I'm not going to tell my daughter yet that some girls don't outgrow it.  I've been observing the bus stop moms in our new neighborhood for the past year and it has been psychologically fascinating and borderline amusing to observe the dynamics of one group of women in particular.  They think they're pretty hot stuff and noticeably give the cold shoulder to others.  I think one woman was worried I was going to get my feelings hurt, but it was something I picked up on very quickly and I'm not sure what their supposed accomplishments are that make them better than everyone else.  I'm enjoying new friendships with the grown-ups!

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