How Do You Help Lift Up Your Daughters and Friends When They Are Dealing With Bullies, Mean People, or Frienemies?

We all want life to be as happy, adventurous, positive, loving, and successful as possible; but those goals cannot be reached by keeping our kids or ourselves in a bubble. Well, maybe we can be in a bubble for a few moments of blissful innocent fun (as seen above), but the reality is that we wouldn’t want our kids or ourselves to be stuck in a bubble forever. We want our children to go out into the world and live the best life they can. We all run into roadblocks to achieving or maintaining happiness and sometimes those roadblocks are other people. In the last few months, Angela and I have had many conversations in regards to our daughters, girls, teens, and women in general. We have been discussing bullies, “frienemies,” mean people, self-esteem, confidence, and body image issues.

The topics can be frustrating, but they are part of life and important issues to discuss. The following stories are a few examples of behavior or conversations that I have recently witnessed or that I have heard about from other moms. 

*A mother told me that her fourth grade daughter came home and told her that her “best friend” said, “You don’t mind if I just call you ‘Fatty’ from now on, do you?”

*A shy second grade girl said that two boys teased her at school because they didn’t think she deserved to be chosen for the Young Authors Program. They told her that they were smarter than she was, and that she just thinks she’s “hot”. The girl didn’t want to go to school for two weeks and she cried every day during those two weeks. She was so upset that she wouldn’t tell her parents or the teacher what happened for a week. Her parents tried everything to help her and to make her feel comfortable enough to open up to them, but she internalized her feelings. After she finally shared her story with her mom, the mom asked her why she didn’t feel comfortable talking to her sooner. The girl said that she was too embarrassed.

*A friend told me that her first grade daughter was upset and said that a boy called her “fat”. The first grader told her mom that she was going to try to poop so that her stomach didn’t look as “poufy”.

*My daughters and I were out for dinner, and I overheard a little girl (she was probably ten or eleven) tell her grandparents “A boy called me fat today, but I told him that I’m just big-boned. I didn’t know what else to say when he kept calling me fat, so I just kept saying ‘no, I’m just big-boned.’”

*Some girls, all nine years old or younger, were setting up to play a pick-up soccer game and one of the girls was explaining how soccer is played. This is what she said, “Okay, this is how it works. You are on a diet and you don’t want to put food (soccer ball) in your mouth. You want to make the other girls eat it. So, what you do, is you put the food in her mouth (the other team’s goal) and don’t let it get in your mouth (their goal). That’s how this game is played.”

*When my daughter was seven years old, she said, “Mom, I know that sometimes when a person is smiling and laughing, they are still being mean. They are just smiling and pretending to joke, to get away with what they are saying.”

What is going on here? There is a lot going on… The media is having a negative effect on our children; kids and adults are being mean because they have low self-esteem; there is a lack of parental involvement; kids are hearing their mothers and other children gossip; and the societal pressures on girls and women, to be a certain way—“perfect”, is stressing children and adults out. The kids in the above examples haven’t even hit their teens, when the harsh bullying, teasing, judging, self-esteem, and body-image issues become more serious and complicated. When these girls become women, they will continue to deal with similar issues.

I don’t know what the complete solution is, but I do know that every one of us can make a difference every day. Our behaviors and words are setting an example for our children. Kids may not seem to be listening to us, but they hear our messages loud and clear. If we are catty, act fake, and backstab other women; our children will think that is normal and okay. If we are loving, honest, respectful, and supportive to other women, our children will learn that is normal and good.

I don’t get it when women make snide remarks about each other, backstab, or say mean things to people while pretending they are just being humorous. Does is make them feel better about themselves? Do they feel more powerful and important? Do they feel a false inflation of self-esteem and confidence when they put someone down? It sure doesn’t look, sound, or feel confident, powerful, kind, loving, funny, or beautiful. Who wants to be a part of all that drama anyway? Life is already complicated enough as it is.

I wish there was a magic wand that would magically stop girls, boys, men, and women from hurting each other, making fun of each other, excluding, bullying, acting like a “frienemy”, and generally being mean. I’m not going to say that I’ve never made mistakes; I have. My goal is to always be loving, kind, honest, supportive, and compassionate. It feels so much better to be nice. A kind word goes a long way and a thoughtful gesture can make a huge difference in someone’s day, week, month, or year.

We hope that you will share your experiences, words of wisdom, and advice with us here. Do you think these societal problems are getting better or worse? Why do you think kids are being so mean? Do you think the media is partly responsible? Do you think this is a parenting issue? What advice do you give your daughters and friends, in regards to how to deal with bullies and mean people? How do you deal with “frienemies” or “mean women” in the work place? When someone makes a snide comment and tries to cover it up with, “I’m just kidding”, how do you respond and how does it make you feel? How do you help lift up your daughters and friends? How do you help your children to love, respect, accept, and stand up for themselves? How do you teach your sons and daughters to be kind?

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

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4 Responses to “How Do You Help Lift Up Your Daughters and Friends When They Are Dealing With Bullies, Mean People, or Frienemies?”

  1. Excelente artículo! No puedo sentirme más identificada, de niña sufrí eso y más!// Excellent article, I feel so in touch with it, as a little girl I suffered this and more!

    I´m not a mother yet but my mother always be so kind and protective with me, thos bullies make me more concious about my image but now that i had accept myself i´m a strong woman

  2. Not to horribly self-promote, but I actually wrote a piece about bullying just recently: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-fridkis/growing-up-without-bullyi_b_776034.html

    I guess my best guess as far as advice goes is to remind your kids and friends how great they really are, and remind them that not all opinions are created equal. A parent’s opinion of their child, for example, should be much more important than the opinion of a peer. Ask them what their good friends think of them. Ask them what they think motivates the bully. And point out that the bully tries to make a lot of people feel badly, because of problems he/she has. So that it’s not just about this one child or person. It’s about something else entirely.

  3. So interesting that you have posted this today, as I have been dealing with some of these issues with a certain “friend”. For me, I let things go when I was younger and when my friends were being mean, yes, it hurt, but I could go home, ride my bike, hug my dog and move on. It hurts me more now when friends are mean (and they still are) than it did then. Why do 30 and 40 year old women think it’s okay to leave someone out of a group or a party? Don’t we all know better than this? Why when someone is jealous of my accomplishments do they say, “you’re making me look bad” and that’s supposed to somehow be a compliment? News flash – it’s not. We teach people the way we should be treated, and I agree with you that we teach our daughters how they should treat others. I can literally count my true girlfriends on two fingers. The rest of them…who knows. I am losing my trust the older I get and I tend to keep my distance because it’s safer that way. 🙂

    • I realized I didn’t answer the question…when someone’s being mean to my daughter, I give her the same advice I give myself – just stay away from them and consider the source. Usually, they are being mean or hateful out of jealousy or because they feel badly about themselves. Life is too short for toxic people that rob us of our joy!

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