As she walks outside, I can see the burden she carries. She gets in the car and bursts into tears the minute the door is shut. “Mom, I don’t know why she doesn’t like me!” My heart aches for her and I hate that I can’t shield her from the hurt.
Dealing with a mean girl is a part of life for most of us. At some point in our lives we have all dealt with one, and unfortunately, our daughters will have to as well. But, how do you handle it when the time comes?
Keep communication open
Talk to your daughter; let her know that she can talk to you. Don’t pry, but also don’t shut down. If you see your daughter bothered by something make a point to get her alone. Take her for ice cream, go shopping or to a movie. Even if you can’t leave the house, you could turn on a movie for your other kids and get her a soda, then find a quiet corner to chat. If she feels comfortable, she will be more likely to open up.
Talk to a neutral individual
I needed some wise counsel, so I spoke with my mom, who immediately defended my daughter, and gave me some “motherly” advice. I love my mom, but she was not neutral at all. So, I spoke with a friend who did not know the family, and who I knew would give me honest and Godly advice.
When you’re looking for someone to talk to, pray about it and don’t just go to someone who will take your side! It’s not about sides – it’s about making godly decisions. Also, make sure that you’re giving an accurate portrayal of the situation and not just focusing on someone else’s negativity.
Intervene if necessary
Sometimes a situation does need parental intervention. When that happens, speak to the other child’s parent. If you know the parent or family involved speak with them. If the family is not responsive you may need to intervene in a way that will keep your child safe, emotionally and physically. That may be include speaking with a coach, teacher, or another official.
Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. ~Matthew 18:15-16
Pray with your child
My daughter was not herself for a few months after the incident. She was reserved, self-conscious and some of her innocence was gone. But, slowly she became herself again. We prayed together and prayed for the other parties involved. I encouraged her to forgive the other child and to remember what a true friend is. We turned the situation into a learning experience on friendship, empathy, and forgiveness.
Remember that the other family may be hurting as well
None of our children are blameless, and sometimes people just don’t get along. In the case of bad behavior from others, we need to remember that we do not know what is going on at home, or in the other person’s family. We also need to realize that at some point, the tables could be turned and our own daughters could exhibit mean girl behavior. Bad behavior does not necessarily mean a bad child. So, please, don’t hold a child’s actions against them long term. If handled appropriately the behavior can be changed.
As parents, we will have to handle situations we may not be ready for. But, we also need to be prepared for each new level of parenting that we come to.
Have you ever had to deal with a mean girl situation? How did you handle it and what did you learn from it?