Being A Mom to Girls Is Tough! How Do I Deal with The Cattiness?

AUTHOR: | POSTED: June 8, 2012 | COMMENTS: 1 Comment
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Carolyn Savage

Authors note…I wrote this for post for Mamapedia and it is currently being discussed on their site and Facebook page.  You can join the discussion here! 

Being the mom of a girl is tough. I knew it was going to be. Boys are different than girls in so many ways. My oldest daughter, MK, seems to have developed opinions earlier than my sons did about—well—pretty much everything! From what she wears, to what I wear, she doesn’t hold back. God forbid I don a black t-shirt two days in a row…

“Mommy, you wore that yesterday. You should wear a rainbow shirt. Rainbows are pretty. Your shirt is ugly.”

She’s a born fashion critic, which is somewhat humbling, but not my greatest concern. My biggest worry lies with the future—specifically, early adolescence and the social pitfalls that can accompany those years. How do I equip my daughters to face hurtful situations with resilience?

My fears are born out of two places—my own painful moments as a child and my professional experiences. As a former elementary school principal and teacher, I’ve had a front row seat to the ugliness that can unfold between girls. I know the issues of cattiness and cliques can begin as early as the first grade and are usually in full swing by the end of the primary years, but my daughter’s only four. I thought I had a few more years. Turns out, I was wrong.

The other day, while attending a program at MK’s preschool, I witnessed an episode that provoked a visceral reaction in me. We were just arriving as two of MK’s classmates—girls—were posing for a picture together. Not realizing that she was interrupting, when MK ran over to say hello, one of the girls shoved her away.

“This picture is only for us. We’re best friends. You aren’t.”

While I was busy picking my jaw up off the floor, MK turned away from the girls towards a mirrored wall. I could see her reflection. Her sweet smile was gone, and her eyes welled up with tears.

She was hurt—I was crushed.

I’m not proud of my initial instincts in that moment. Not only did I feel helpless, but I was instantly catapulted back to my own hurtful girlhood experiences. Memories of a wickedly mean classmate crashed into me like a ton of bricks, causing my stomach to lurch into my throat. I was angry and my mind was racing.

How dare this child treat my girl like that! Why didn’t the mother taking the picture reprimand her? Who the heck do these people think they are? If they think I’m going to just stand here and allow someone to hurt my daughter, they’ve got another thing coming!

Wait—get a hold of yourself.

There I stood—crazy thoughts flying through my mind—when I realized my daughter had already shaken it off and moved on to another group of friends. Thank goodness I was able to suppress my mama-bear desire to unleash in a tirade of fury.

Reflecting upon that incident makes me realize how difficult it will be to watch my daughters navigate hurtful situations. One might think I’d have more of a ‘been there, done that’ kind of attitude. I’ve already gone through this with my two now-teenage sons, but the girls are different for me. I’ve noticed that I’m quicker to relate my daughter’s experiences with my own simply because we share the common link of being female.

So, I’m bracing myself. Getting my three daughters through the pitfalls of girlhood is going to be challenging. I know the hurts are inevitable, but hopefully they’ll give way to lessons about the importance of moving past bruised feelings to happier places. That’s what breeds resilience and resilience is an important life skill—one, apparently, I’m still learning.

What do you think is the best way to react when you see your daughter being hurt by a classmate?

One Comment on “ Being A Mom to Girls Is Tough! How Do I Deal with The Cattiness? ”

  • Marydawn | June 8th, 2012 12:47 pm

    It is far more difficult to witness the wounding of our children than it is to deal with our own problems. As a high school teacher, I frequently intervene when I witness this type of mean girl behavior. I think most of it stems from the inherent feeling of children that the world revolves around them.
    That said… I did intervene on behalf of my daughter at one point in her life. (Since beginning my teaching career, I have shared this story with classes of students when the topic of bullying has come up.)
    My daughter was in 1st grade. She was very shy, and she had a few friends, but her friend Sarah (who lived across the alley from us) was her very best friend.
    She came home from school crying, and when I asked what was wrong she sobbed, “Sarah made a club with other girls, and she said I couldn’t be in it.” She was crushed. I was furious!
    It wasn’t five minutes later that Sarah came to the door and asked if Kirsten could play.
    My answer? “No, we have a club, and you can’t be in it.”
    I shut the door.
    My daughter was mortified… she was afraid that Sarah would never speak to her again, and when I opened the door again and asked Sarah to come in, she was visibly relieved.
    I asked Sarah how it made her feel to be left out… especially when it was by her best friend.
    It was a small lesson, but Sarah never excluded Kirsten again, and they are friends to this day.
    It didn’t keep my daughter from being deeply wounded by others at various times during her teen years, but she has grown up to be a kind, loving, and protective mother, and I have no doubt that she will do her best to protect her own children with love.

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