Dear Mean Girls

I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to this. But, you have made me do it. Today, for the first time, I saw a tiny crack in my little girl’s armor—a crack you caused, in the armor you have forced her to wear.

Since you don’t have a choice, I am going to tell you a very important story; one I had to tell my own daughter tonight thanks to you.

A long time ago there was a 13 year-old girl who lived in a not-so-nice house in the not-so-nice part of town. She wore the same outfit twice in one week and sometimes her shoes had holes in them. At lunch, she had to sit alone and read books. She wore the worst, thickest glasses and almost never smiled. You probably would never have noticed her. Unfortunately, Rhonda and Linda in her home room did notice her…and torture her…and make her life a living hell for all of high school.

Now, thirty years later, that nobody girl has a pretty awesome life. She actually spends her days trying to make people feel better. She does not miss the boyfriend she never had because she married her best friend in the world. Not only does she smile, she laughs– a lot. She now has the best clothes, the best shoes, and is surrounded by tons of people that love her. In fact, she sometimes prays for a minute to sit alone and read a book.

And yet, deep down, she is still that same scared, lonely girl that Rhonda and Linda tormented. Those mean girls almost ruined her life.

I will not let you do that to my daughter. She lives in a very nice house in a very nice part of town. She only wears the same outfits to torture her mother and the holes in her shoes were paid for…to torture her mother. Her glasses are the loudest, most noticeable things in the store and she wears them with pride. When she sits alone to read her books, it is not because she has to, it’s because she WANTS to.

Tonight she brushed off your words with such ease it broke my heart. She tells me that she is going to keep working and reading and not listening. That you don’t matter to her.

But, here is my problem. You do. Because even as she said those words, her shoulders slumped the littlest bit.

She has not asked anything of you. She does not want, need, nor expect your approval.

She is smart, and beautiful, and funny, and so talented. But do you know what the best thing about her is? She would not hurt a soul. As a matter of fact, I guarantee that if she saw one of you crying in the bathroom, she would put her books down and sit down on the floor next to you. Her arms around your shoulders would not be a sign that she was seeking your approval. They would be a sign that she doesn’t want to see ANYONE hurting.

When I was very green at doctoring and thought a bit too much of myself, a wise doctor said to me

“…they may never remember the hundreds of times you were nice, but they will never forget the one time you were mean.”

Those words are permanently engraved in my brain and I go to them several times a day when my tongue is about to get the better of me.

Please, read this story to your parents. I am pretty sure they are going to shake their heads and smile a little. They will feel badly. They will thank goodness that their own little girl is neither tormented nor the tormentor. If they knew how you behaved today, they would be ashamed of you.

I won’t tell if you won’t. Just promise me to end it right here. You don’t have to go out of your way to be nice to my M or any other girl you don’t find “worthy” of your time, just don’t be a mean girl—deep down, I know you are not.

Comments

  1. Krista says:

    Who were they? Let me at them!!!!! (((HUGS)))

  2. jjr says:

    Having a 5 yr old I worry that she will be on one end or the other. I hope and pray and try daily to teach her how to be a nice girl and accept everyone, buts its those other girls whose parents don’t see both sides that I worry will get to her. I promise to relay this story to her as she grows and matures. Thanks for sharing and your M makes nice girls look AWESOME! Keep up the great work.

    • Exactly Jen–when I was growing up, there was no “anti bullying campaign.” There was no such thing as a “bully-free zone.” Kids were just tortured and took it quietly until they couldn’t take it anymore. Where does the cycle end?? Maybe it is with today’s 5 and 6 year olds.

  3. Heather says:

    Girls can be so mean to each other sometimes…I think it is usually because there is a little bit of jealousy there somewhere. I think your mentor’s advice is really applicable here.

    • Right Heather. I really had some choice words for those two but what good would it have done? I will just swallow and keep setting the example–at least on the outside. Inside, I want to punch somebody directly in the face.

  4. Rori Oakes says:

    I constantly tell my kids that ‘the cream always rises to the top.’ After I had to explain this old fashion saying to them, they got it and it’s become our motto.

  5. Patti says:

    One of the most painful things as a parent is thinking your child is hurting……no matter what their ages. Your children are blessed.

  6. Laura says:

    Oh Dr. Meyer, this post makes me sad, I dread the days when Kiersten experiences the “mean girls” :-( Why do girls have to be mean? It even carries on into adulthood as I certainly know a few “mean women”, although now I could care less as I am more confident and know I have amazing friends in my life. There are certainly a few “mean boys” out there as well as Evan is experiencing, although instead of words, they are physical to show it. Good luck to your daughter, I hope she can brave these tough years and come out on top.

  7. Beth says:

    Are the meanies in D? I will sic (sic) Rachel after them! Mean girls suck!

  8. Marilyn Clarke says:

    Being a parent is the hardest job in the world especially when it comes to seeing our own child being hurt in any way , shape or form. The “mean”girls are the saddest people I have ever encountered. For the most part they are jealous of the girl they are tormenting!

  9. Eileen says:

    Thank you for this post, thank you

  10. Dawn says:

    Wow. Perfect timing. As my 6 year old is already experiencing “mean girls”. You nailed it’! I just had to post on my fb page.

  11. Connie Eschinger says:

    Love what you say….

  12. Diane says:

    Love this – thank you. The saying in our house is: Take the high road. It’s usually less busy.

  13. juliasherwin says:

    I loved this! I dealt with my bouts of torture from mean girls and now have a pretty awesome life, too. There are mean people all around us, unfortunately. Definitely way worse when it happens to your own child, though. I try to teach my kids every chance I get when their behavior mimics bullying, like whey they lock one of their siblings out of their room I explain that ignoring is also a form of bullying. She will be better for the experience, though. I firmly believe that!

  14. Chet Smith says:

    Once a bully does not mean always a bully. I am ashamed to say that I once took part in bullying a classmate in grade school. Afterwards, I thought about it and decided, even at the age of 12, that what I had done was terrible and how I would feel if it had been done to me. Since then, I have striven to support and stick up for people that I see being bullied. I grew up in the inner city and this meant putting myself on the line and sometimes becoming a target myself when intervening but I also gained a lot of good friends who, in turn, have sometimes helped me move forward in life. If you know a bully, you can help turn them around in life by showing them it is way more cool to help people than to knock them. It is easier said than done but the effort can pay many benefits down the line. Don’t just demand their punishment – try to help them become better people.

  15. Meg Lenghel says:

    Love this post!!! Thanks for sharing! I can totally relate to this story. My son is much the same as I also was that bullied girl.

  16. Mark says:

    You could do what I did. Go to a class reunion and see how fat they r today. They just walk pass then and smile. (Pay backs r a bitch.)

  17. Judi says:

    I was on a county-wide bullying task force a few years back. We pulled the bullying policies for all 12 school districts in Chester County. All have zero tolerance policies on bullying. I assume that the girls who were mean to your daughter were disciplined by the school. (Unfortunately, due to FERPA, you cannot find out what was done.) Some children have trouble telling when they are being bullied. They have developmental delays (like Aspergers or ADHD) and lack judgment to determine when others are crossing the line between playful teasing and real bullying. They don’t always brush off the mean words. They ruminate on the mean words that are said and can develop post traumatic stress.

    I don’t agree with you. We all need to go out of our way to be nice to people. Shunning is a form of bullying too. Kids need to be taught this from an early age. We will run into all different types of people – including mean people – as we journey through life. We need to be given the tools to engage them and turn them around into nice people.

  18. Ally D says:

    I was truly tortured in elementary school. I was awkward and too involved with gymnastics and being in my own head to really know how to interact with others. I’ll never forget the transition from when we all played together in kindergarten and 1sr grade to being ostracized and ridiculed in 4th or 5th grade. I begged my parents to move… To let me homeschool… ANYTHING to get me away from the constant stress.

    Now I also have an amazing life I wouldn’t change for the world. Some of these girls have since friend requested me on FB and its so obvious in their interactions with me now, some 20 years later that they have no idea how close they came from truly breaking another little girl’s spirit. M is a strong, loving girl with amazing parents, keep pulling for me and as long as she knows you are there behind her…. She will handle her battles just fine.

  19. Deana Ramirez says:

    After reading this blog, my heart hurts because, I to have experienced this with one of my own children… The hurt that these young children endure is so unreal!!! It’s crazy how one mean child can totally change a childs life. Hope things are getting better :(

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