July 23, 2012
As girls we were taught to be nice to one another, not gossip, and include the outsiders. Cliques are wrong. Popularity is overrated.
The truth is “girl world” can be a “dog eat dog world.” Unfortunately sometimes the nice people pleasers like myself get swallowed down first.
God gave me two daughters. I thought about how I want them to handle their friendships and how I can help them. My girls are 6 1/2 and 2 1/2 and I still have much to learn. Here are some ideas I came up with.
1) I don’t want to label their problems as “girl drama” or try to downgrade them. Even though the girl next door told your daughter her hair looks funny seems trivial, it is a big deal to your daughter. It might have ruined her day. You might be able to laugh it off, but she can’t.
2) You cannot always ignore the mean girls. It seems like my generation was taught to ignore them and they will go away. This doesn’t always work. Gossip continues. Backstabbing intesifies. Your daughter might find herself on “we’re friends…now we’re not…we’re friends again” roller coaster ride. Girls need to learn to stand for up themselves. They also need to learn that is OK to ask for help from a teacher or administrator. Some girls might benefit from karate, kickboxing, or judo lessons.
3) Help them understand they do not have to be friends with everyone. We were constantly taught you should never exclude anyone. Yes girls need to be taught to show love and grace to others. To step out of their comfort zone. But it is OK to NOT be friends with someone if the friendship is not bearing fruit or causing more harm than good. It does not mean our daughters have to look the other way in the hall when they pass that girl or stop talking to her. It does mean to cultivate healthier friendships.
4) Have your husband help with the “girl” issues. Us moms sometimes find ourselves swept away with our daughter’s problems and we create our own drama. It is painful for us and sometimes unleashes our own insecurities. My “level headed” husband has helped put things in perspective. It is also good for my daughter to be able to share their struggles with him and receive advice. Mentors, youth leaders, school counselors, pastors, aunt, uncles, grandparents could fulfil this role as well.
5) Learning how to navigate through “girl” conflict in a positive light will help them when they become adults. I’ll never forget when I took my kids to the park and a mom’s group was setting up an Easter egg hunt for their kids. Somehow the plans got changed and a huge “mom fight” (thankfully not physical) broke out. It escalated to yelling and finger pointing while all the kids played around them. I really felt sorry for the kids who were front row eye witnesses. Every girl friendship whether they are five or thirty-five will go through rough patches. We cannot teach them to avoid conflict or run away from it. Rather they need the tools to navigate through it. And handle it positively. It will help them develop healthy friendships in the future.
And some resources…
I love the book Queen Bees and Wannabees (which I highly recommend) by Rosalind Wiseman. The movie Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan is based on this book. I also read Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons which was also a good read. There is a movie based on the book. It is a made for TV movie that aired on the Lifetime network. Aside from the acting not being as good, I found the plot line better.