I have never been one easily affected by popularity or being in the “in-crowd”. Sure I’d feel a little left out but it wouldn’t bother me enough to lose sleep over it. What does bother me is racist reactions or biasness based on the fact that I am not Caucasian. Having said that, over the years, that has less of an effect on me because I realize that while I have experienced and seen a lot of the world and its people, many of those less friendly / mean people probably have not. So being the bigger person, I choose to ignore them and their unkindness.
But what eats me are mean moms. I mean sure you have mean girls in high school and college, and probably even in the workplace but among moms?? Seriously? Who has the time and energy to be picky about which mom you’d choose to be nice to? Aren’t we all moms paddling (sometimes without an oar) the same boat? So what gives? Maybe being a little different and possibly not being in the same social circle? Who knows? But is that justified? Heck no.
And then there are dance moms. So this article is stemmed from something that happened at my daughter’s dance school. It’s a great dance school and the teachers are extraordinary, but some of the parents (moms) are despicable. There is a group of moms from my daughter’s class who are really not friendly. I mean their kids are okay but the moms are super cliquey and gives you a blank stare when you give them a smile to say hello. Anyway, my daughter recently had her recital photo session. We were in line and these moms stood right in front of us. Never mind that they didn’t even acknowledge us, but they decided to take a group picture with all the girls in the similar costume as my little one but of course, did not extend the invitation to her and a couple of other kids in the class. How mean is that!
So we aren’t friends. Ok, I get that we’re not really friends, but the girls are all classmates. In the same performance. In the same costume. I may be petty and sensitive, but I would invite everyone to be in the picture regardless of if my daughter is friends with them or not. It’ s just common courtesy and being polite. I personally don’t care if I wasn’t invited but I do care that it was my 5 –year- old who’s experiencing exclusion from her classmates, not perpetrated by them, but by their moms! Their role models and guide.
I bet she felt a little excluded. She probably wasn’t as affected by it as me. She was quietly watching her friends take photos and sit together while she sat by her lonesome self though and that just made my heart break. I understand that she’ll probably experience more of this as she enters school, college and at work and well, just in life, in general. But what makes my blood boil is that these moms are perpetuating it to their impressionable little girls.
They’re telling them it’s ok to exclude people different from you. It’s ok to ignore those who are alone and don’t have friends and it’s ok to be mean to those who are not your friends. These girls will follow whatever their mommies do and this “mean girls syndrome” will continue to the next generation. So NOT ok! I told one of my girlfriends about what happened and her response, “What year are we living in? Don’t they know that the world is getting smaller and people from every part of the world are in different parts now so there’s no avoiding diversity?” It’s sad that they’re living in their little world of whatever and don’t realize there’s a whole big world out there. Ignorance may be bliss but it can also be stupefying.
Raising includers and not mean girls. I recently come across an article by Lisa McCrohan, a psychotherapist, called “Raising girls who are includers instead of mean girls.” I loved it! She had the experience of being a victim of mean girls growing up so she knows what it’s like and vowed to be an includer to all she meets. As parents, it’s our responsibility to guide our kids down the right, positive path. She wrote, “I know you want to model this to your daughter, too. YOU are this sacred space for your daughter. And I know you are doing it the best you can. Because this is how we heal the ‘mean girls’ culture: we hold, we include, we love, we empower, and we regard our girls. And we model this in how we treat other women.”
Moms need to be aware of the mean girl culture. Until all moms understand how negative the impact left by mean girls is to other girls, and does something about it, the mean girls culture will continue to exist. I am a practical person but I’m idealistic as well – I’m a practical idealist. I get that this is a norm. Bullies and mean girls will continue to exist but I’m hopeful that more and more parents play a bigger role to curb its existence. Kids have so much to worry about in school – feeling accepted shouldn’t be one of it.
What I had to tell my daughter. I told my daughter on the way home, without referring to her unfriendly classmates and their moms, that as she grows up she’s going to meet people who are not friendly and even mean to her for whatever reason. That is not ok but she should not be bugged by it because it’s their choice. She needs to remember that there are people who will love her and that’s all that matters. SHE needs to be a nice person and be respectful to everyone, despite differences. I may sound like a clichéd peace on earth type speechwriter but it is true. It’s time to end the belief that one group is better than the other. It’s time to embrace diversity and look at similarities and not difference. And it’s time to start with the kids.