The part I’m dreading most about parenting a daughter doesn’t really involve my daughter at all. It’s about the other girls. The mean girls.
I remember those times all too clearly. Two little girls can play nice, but throw a third one in there and someone is bound to get excluded.
I can’t bear the thought of someone telling my little sweetheart they don’t want to play with her. But an even worse thought than that: finding out my daughter is a mean girl. I would be devastated. That would mean I didn’t do my job.
That’s why I read an article Maggie Lamond Simone wrote for Huffington Post Parents with such interest. She talks about subbing as a teacher in elementary school and watching as little girls who once played together began to form cliques and groups, leaving former friends out in the cold.
Simone says she has made certain she is friends with the mothers of her daughter’s friends in order to form a united front in the face of the usual mean girl scenarios. “Her friends’ mothers and I have been on a quest since the beginning of their friendships to mitigate, if not completely eliminate, the “mean girls” phenomenon that seems so endemic in our daughters’ lives.”
That’s something that never occurred to me. Being friends with the mothers of the girls my daughter will play with. I mean, yeah, sure, I planned to be social, but to actually go out of my way to befriend them so that we can mitigate all mean girl scenarios together, that’s pretty powerful. And I can do that. For my daughter, I can do that.
Because as much as I detest the way girls treat each other during their formative years, it’s going to happen. In her article, Simone wonders why girls are like that when we’re actually, generally speaking, such sensitive people. I think it’s because we’re sensitive. We put others down to make ourselves feel good. Of course, that’s painting it with a broad brush, but usually, with young girls anyway, they’re struggling to fit in, to be liked, self-esteem can be tough to come by and excluding someone else helps to make you feel important, unfortunately.
When girls lose their self-esteem, they DO become jealous — maybe of another girl’s things or looks, but also maybe simply because she hates herself. In my experience, girls who are insecure need the validation of others to cement their own self-worth, and often that validation comes at the expense of kids who don’t fit the standard definition of “normal.”
Simone hit the nail on the head. That’s where we, as mothers, need to step in and nip that kind of behavior in the bud. We need to build an unshakeable self-esteem in our daughters. Ingrain it deep within their souls so that when those scenarios do occur – and they will – our daughters have enough self-esteem that they don’t need to seek it out at the expense of another little girl. Simone says her hope is to cement her daughter’s self-esteem before the teen years sabotage it.
As situations occurred between our girls, we would coach them on how to understand other people’s feelings, how to understand their own, and how to work things through. We still do, sometimes. But now, for the most part, we let them work things out themselves, because they have the tools to do so without hurting each other. They know, at the end of the day, that meanness will not be tolerated.
I’m really thankful I stumbled across this article. It helped me actually think critically and formulate a plan in my mind about how to raise my daughter. If I start now, when she’s 2-years-old, I may just have a fighting chance.