Mean Girls

The movies 13 Going on 30 and Mean Girls both give poignant pictures of what life is like for many girls growing up today. As a matter of fact, I (Sissy) had a teenager tell me to see Mean Girls because she said, "That's my life."

As adults, we watch those movies and think, "This is horrible. Surely my daughter won't go through this." She may not to that degree, but she will go through some type of tyranny from other girls between the ages of ten and sixteen.

What do you do? How can you prevent it from happening? The first rule of thumb is that you can't. The only way to prevent your daughter from being hurt by other girls is to keep her from other girls.

So what are other options? Thankfully, many schools are becoming aware of the perils of girls' relationships. An elementary school in Nashville is having banquets where they create knights and princesses who have committed not to bully others. School counselors are meeting with groups of girls to help them work through issues and develop compassion. Culturally, we are reaping positive benefits of the media portrayal of girls' friendships.

unfortunately, despite prevention and education, girls will most likely still be mean. Your daughter will still be hurt. This is where we return to your role. Give her a safe place to come home where she feels unconditionally liked and loved. When she can't say it with words, watch for signs that she is hurting: stomachaches before school, shyness around certain kids, headaches after church.

A mom of a teenager told me (Sissy): "I can always tell when Carrie is not getting along with one of her friends. She is a terror at home." Whether her signs are physical or emotional, she will tell you without telling you. Ask her questions. Give her opportunities to tell you about it, and the time to do so. Don't force her, but invite her to talk.

Let her try to handle it on her own first—but if the situation continues to escalate, step in. Then call the teacher, the school counselor, or whatever adult is in a position to help.

Your daughter will hit bumps with girls. Some of these bumps will cause you to panic; some will make you want to strangle other children. But your daughter will come through. Help her understand that mean girls are really just insecure, jealous girls, and she must be a pretty great person to bring out this much jealousy.

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