Mama Bear vs Mean Girls: The Struggles of Parenting after Your Child’s Been Bullied

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I am writing this blog after literally experiencing a scene from Mean Girls (except involving seven and eight-year- old children). My daughter had a school program tonight. She is and always has been a very loveable, rowdy, beautiful girl. She makes friends easily, is fun-loving and easygoing. She does not get her feelings hurt if someone outside of her family just doesn’t want to talk to her or play with her that day. She just moves on, without a grudge. But what I saw tonight, it broke my heart and enraged my inner Mama Bear.

This girl was a Mean Girl. And I don’t me she was just mean to my child. She was a Mean Girl.

I got to meet teachers I haven’t met before, like her music teacher who calls her “Carrot Juice” because she has strawberry blond hair. I got to see old teachers who taught my eldest as well as my youngest.

And it was a great night all in all, except the part where my child was shunned and embarrassed in front of an entire group of adults and children.

I watched my beautiful, spunky, Tigger-in-human-form, crumble. I have never, in her 7 ½ years, seen her so crestfallen. In part because this girl rejected her and in part, I think, because her friends didn’t stand up for her. These friends aren’t her best friends, but they are her friends. But Mean Girls tend to have an entourage. And, after talking to my daughter, I found out that this was not the first time this has happened. Apparently, it’s happened many times over the past three years.

As an unpopular, boring child and teenager myself, I encountered many Mean Girls in my day. The ones that are dressed to the nines every day of school: Perfect hair, perfect teeth, venom for words and looks that could kill. But I cannot remember it starting in elementary school when I was a child. This was a middle school and high school issue.

So, what do you tell your children in this situation? We don’t want to tell them to be mean back, to lash out. But you also don’t want to encourage them to be around toxic people. While the Mama Bear in you wants to hold them close and tell them it will be alright, we also must help them understand how to handle the situation next time. Because, there will be a next time, there always is. Even if the next time isn’t until she is a grown adult in the workplace, it will happen again.

What is the solution here? Tell her to avoid this girl and that if she tries to engage you, walk away. Tell her you don’t want to be around her, what she is doing is rude and disrespectful. But trying to give rational, adult advice to a child who does not have adult rationalization skills seems so fruitless.

Sometimes raising kids is the most rewarding feeling in the world, and sometimes I long for the ability to talk to them like adults—like I would my colleagues—so that my own life lessons can be understood and applied. At work we learn from our experiences and take that knowledge with us to the next challenge; kids, though, must truly learn for themselves.

I despise seeing my children hurting, it is the most painful thing I have ever endured in my life. But life as a child, teen and adult will be full of Regina Georges, Mean Girls on a mission to make you feel bad just for being you. I just don’t want my little girl to lose what makes her so special by trying to make people like her. I want to armor her with whatever she needs to go to battle--or just survive it--until she realizes this too shall pass.