By Randi Crawford
It’s funny (or not so much), with the new school year starting, how we all dread the words “mean girls.” What’s more daunting than the thought of mean girls ruining your daughter’s life and self-esteem, especially in middle school? But I’ve noticed a new trend happening... girls are getting nicer as they get older. You heard me correctly, the girls are all really nice to each other. I remember so clearly when my kids were little, there were a lot of very sassy, (can you say Hannah Montana?) manipulative, mean girls and I was blown away. I thought to myself, “Wow, if it’s this bad in first grade, what’s it going to be like in middle school?”
At the time, it was impossible for me to imagine how girls that age could be so cutting and implement this behavior so well. But when you volunteer in class, you see first- hand how simple words and looks can destroy another child. The really mean girls were smart enough to “turn it on” when an adult was anywhere near them, like they had “parent radar” and could detect when they needed to step up their game.
Just the other day, I was heading to the beach, when I ran into a friend on her morning jog. Her daughters had just started middle school and she was a wreck. In elementary school they were bullied to the point of having zero self-esteem left. The whole family was worried about middle school and how much worse it was going to get. That’s when friends like me step in and say stupid things like, “If I were you, I would blah blah blah...!” But in reality, that’s not what happens, because you know in your heart that that will only make matters worse. The good news — her daughters both had a great first day. I wonder what was different? Why were her tormentors nice to her?
That’s why I wanted to write about the new trend of “nice girls.” Do you suppose that maybe all of the mean girls, at some point, have been bullied or treated poorly by their own friends, and they are learning at an earlier age that being mean for no reason is just dumb? How many conversations have you had with friends where you say things like, “Why can’t these girls just learn that having more friends and being nice to people is so much better than walking around, sucking lemons, being mean to people just for the sport of it?”
As the girls are getting older, you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, and someone to do something hateful for no reason. But it doesn’t happen. Instead, they are loving and supportive of one another, especially in the different activities that they are branching into. Remember when our kids were young and we threw them into every sport possible so they could be with their friends – even if your kid stunk? But we did it so they could socialize, get exposed to as much as possible, and allow the parents to throw end-of-the-year parties and get a little “cray cray.” As they get older, they are separating into different sports and things that they are good at, or like to do. And again, there doesn’t seem to be this overwhelming “judgment” from the other girls about what is cool to do and what’s not.
I really wanted to write this because there is
much to be said on the topic of mean girls and self-esteem. But honestly, I’m enjoying exploring the “nice girls” and what’s making them tick? I’m sick of focusing on the negative, especially when I’m seeing so much goodness from the hardest years in a girl’s life. Whatever it is, moms, you are doing something right. And if you have a clue as to what’s going on, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.