Day 15: Mean girls

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Catty, rude, snide, gossip-y, cutting, emotionally manipulative, mean girls.

When I had girls, I worried about the mean ones. I never once believed I would have a mean girl of my own. Like mother, like daughter right?

I like to think I’m pretty nice. Yes, I occasionally bend my ear to an interesting tidbit of information, and I frequently get in a huff with people who drive under the speed limit, but overall I can’t imagine saying something hateful or snotty or downright mean about another woman. I am not perfect, but as a general rule, I don’t share others secrets or talk behind their backs or mock their appearance. And, just as important, I try to avoid women who do.

One of my daughters has the temperament of a lamb. Gentle, sweet, innocent, kind. She attracts kind girls too, and they remind me of the fluttering of butterflies when their together. They bring delight with their light touch and the only sign they’ve been in a room is the echo of laughter and the faint brush of wings.

My other daughter is sassy. That’s really all I can say. And I can see with a gentle push in the wrong direction, how easily she could fall into mean. Her heart is tender, but deep down there’s kindling for a fire. All it takes is one mean girl to strike a match, and my girl’s tenderness will be consumed in the flame. She gravitates towards the mean girls. She likes their spit and their fire. Every year at school, I hear from her teacher saying what a difficult time they’re having with the girls in that particular class. My girl is never the instigator (believe me, I’ve asked), but I began to suspect her involvement when I realized she was the common denominator.

Last year, after multiple conversations with my girl and after discouraging a few less than desirable friendships, I thought we turned the corner. Imagine my surprise, when days away from the start of the new school year, she came to me crying. All summer long, she clutched a secret–last year, she and a friend said mean things and spread rumors about another student.

She carved my heart out with her confession.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a mean girl. Her sister is not a mean girl. We don’t tolerate mean girl behavior in our home. And yet, unbeknownst to me, my kid tore up another kid’s reputation and kept quiet about it for an entire year. We’re talking little girl, petty stuff, but little girl, petty stuff becomes big girl, bully stuff as fast as a mama can blink.

So what’s a mama to do when modeling life-giving, kind words is not enough?

This mama got serious about her girl’s friendships. I cut those mean girls right off. No sleepovers. No coming over after school. No more influence over my kid.

We made amends. First, she prayed and asked God to forgive her. Then, she called and apologized to the other girl for her behavior. It’s never too late to say “I’m sorry”.

We told her Daddy. And by we, I mean she. This was by far the worst punishment for a girl who believes her Daddy hung the moon in the sky just to shine it’s light on her.

We had the talk about mean girls again, and again, and again. I’m going to bang that drum until my arms fall off. We want to cut off any tendency towards meanness at the root, and with every conversation, I want to take her back to tender, to kind. I want to take her back to her true self, a girl with sass and spunk, who knows how to wield her wit without cutting anyone down in the process.

How do you deal with mean girls? How do you discourage this behavior in your children?

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This is the 15th post in a series called 31 Days of Speaking Life. Want to know more about the 31 Days writing challenge? Hop on over here. Want to receive these posts via email straight into your inbox? Sign up below.

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  • Gretchen Phoenix

    First let me say i have been throughly enjoying your 31 day challenge! What a powerful, honest message you shared today. I also believe being kind is so important. Unchecked the meanness can happen so quickly, in innocent enough ways in the beginning. Your girls are fortunate to have a Mom who is really paying attention and willing to make the hard choices with them. Holding people accountable for their actions is a good way to encourage good behavior.