Mean girls: What’s a parent to do?

I don’t remember mean girls in school when I was growing up. Or else, I’ve repressed those memories since I do remember hiding in the girls’ locker room every day at lunch to eat alone. That’s another story.

As a parent of a budding tween, my heart aches when my sweet, overly sensitive daughter comes home with stories about this girl or that girl deciding they are no longer friends even though they had a blast at a sleepover just the weekend before. I don’t understand the spreading of vicious rumors and mean words spoken. I do understand the tears.

By the next day, though, they are friends again. Until they are not.

So goes the rollercoaster of mean girl power plays.

It’s changing everything about fourth grade for my daughter. She wants to take out her new ear piercing because the girls made fun of her. She refused to do the school talent show because the mean girls think dancing is stupid. She won’t wear the clothes she loves because the mean girls say they make her look fat.

At that talent show dress rehearsal recently, I found myself in a group of moms who asked me why my daughter wasn’t dancing this year. Mean girls, I simply replied. That got everyone talking. Apparently their daughters, too, were being bullied by mean girls. It was so bad for one girl her mom made the principal step in.

When the moms started naming names, my mouth fell open. They named the group of girls my daughter considers her best friends.

Could my daughter be a mean girl? Or just as bad, was she witnessing the mean girl attacks and saying nothing? So disturbed, I confronted her that night. She became nervous, but swore she would never be mean to other girls or boys, which I believe because of her personality to date. When I asked her if she had witnessed the meanness, she fell silent.

The lecture that followed filled that silence: She is never ever to sit silently by while other kids are maligned or bullied. If she can’t get up the nerve to say something to stop it, she is to walk away. She agreed, but she was worried she’d be the focus again.

And she was right. Her “friends” have decided they are not her friends -again.

She hurts and it breaks my heart. This is one of the things the baby books never warned us about.

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