Have you ever seen the 2004 Lindsay Lohan movie Mean Girls?
The story line is:
Raised in African bush country by her zoologist parents, Cady Heron thinks she knows about survival of the fittest. But the law of the jungle takes on a whole new meaning when the home-schooled 16-year-old enters public high school for the first time and encounters psychological warfare and unwritten social rules that teenage girls face today.
I personally think it is the best Lindsay Lohan movie and watch it whenever it is on TV. It is hilarious. But the sad part is that it is very close to being a true movie. And even sadder is that it isn't just in High School.
I have a 15 year old daughter who is a Freshman in high school. She loves this movie too. I have been trying to explain to her that "Mean Girls" will be in her school, but they will also be in her college, her work place, her kids schools some day and in her retirement years too. Just because these girls graduate high school don't mean that they suddenly become well rounded, caring women.
My daughter watches Real Housewives with me, and Dance Mom's too, she sees how grown women treat each other. Now you are saying, those are just TV shows they are "reality TV" and they exaggerate the plots of those shows. Yes they probably do, but I have been a dance mom myself since she was 2 years old. She was in a very competitive dance team since she was 4, and those moms are cut throat. Now they may not be quite as harsh as the TV version, but I have seen some grown women acting ridiculously just trying to get their daughters ahead. We don't live the OC lifestyle, so I can't speak for that show, but I am sure how they treat each other on the show is not that far off from how they treat others on a daily basis.
So how do you make sure your daughter is not a "mean girl" or is not being treated poorly from these "mean girls"?
It all comes down to you, her mother. That is the first step. If you treat others with respect, your daughter most likely will too. Your children soak up everything you do even before you start to realize that they are paying attention. Now that doesn't mean you can never gossip again. You need to make sure you are being respectful though. It is hard not to gossip, we are women after all. Your children do not need to hear you gossip though. Take a girls night with your best girl friends, go out to dinner, get all your gossiping out there. Just don't do it in front of your impressionable kids, not even on the phone!
You must also make sure that you stand up for yourself to teach her that you don't deserve to be pushed around. You don't need to be rude, but you don't need to be a door mat either. Make sure that she sees healthy female relationships. She also needs to see healthy romantic relationships with your partner. The more positive female relationships that she sees you involved in, the more she will understand what a healthy relationship should look like. She will realize when a friend is treating her poorly, that it is not supposed to be like that and stand up for herself, or end the friendship.
I got very lucky that my daughter doesn't feel the need to be popular. I was never very popular, and I didn't know any different. I had my few good friends, and that was all that I needed. She has her core group of friends, and (right now) they all seem to be supporting each other. They are all dancers in high school, and some times are harder than others. My daughter made the varsity team, and her best friends did not. Some were very supportive of her and made signs for her at their meets and such. Others were jealous and didn't even congratulate her and basically ignored her most of the year. She understood their reasons, but didn't let it bring her down. Once the season ended, they came back around. We will see how it goes again this winter when faced with the try-out results again.
Something that I do stress with her and her friends is them not calling each other "Bitches". Seriously, when did this become OK? It is all over TV, and I am sure that helped make it main stream, but come on, that is not what you want to be calling somebody you care about. And because it has become so main stream, it is now suddenly OK for men to call women that too? We all need to stop this trend. It is not OK and it is cruel to women. What word will they be using next? I am afraid to think about it.
I have also tried to teach her to be friends with boys. Just friends. Yes, it can be done. I had tons of male friends through college and still today. Now to be honest, I am a huge flirt with men, and I think that helps me feel more comfortable around them. I have no problem being "One of the Guys" and can rib right along with them. With male friends you don't have drama, and I would rather have friends that tell me the truth to my face and not gossip about me to all the other girls. Working with all men is a good place to cut it off at the work place too. I am fortunate to work in a small department, and I am the only woman. There is ZERO drama at work and I wouldn't have it any other way. I have told her to try to find a career geared towards men, plus these jobs normally pay better too! She has a heavy interest in medicine, so I am trying to push her towards that field.
So how do you help a girl that is on the wrong end of mean girls? Teach her to stick up for herself first of all. What interests does she have? Help her focus on that skill. That will take her mind off of the mean girls, and focus on herself. If she is happy with herself, they will not be able to get to her as easily. It kind of reminds me of another one of my favorite shows, The Middle. Their high school daughter, Sue, is far from popular, but she has her good friends, and doesn't seem to care when they are making fun of her right to her face. Now again, this is just a show, and most girls would be hurt by what she goes through, but her family supports her and helps her find her interests. They are just not sure if it is: Cross-country, wrestling cheerleader, youth group at church, drama, or her newest Tennis. They just keep trying until they find it. The biggest problem is her mother wants her to be ubber popular, and it just isn't going to happen.
And that brings us back to the number one reason mean girls exist in high school, the work place and everywhere - the need to be popular. Give your daughters the tools they need to be happy with themselves no matter their status at school. If you can teach them to be good people and be happy with no drama, it is a skill that will last them their entire life.
What are your thought? Were you a "mean girl" in high school? Why do you think you were? Were you constantly picked on? Why do you think that was the case?