I have a friend who has a hard time trusting women due to a mindset her mom instilled in her.
As a child, whenever a girl hurt her feelings, her mom would say, “She’s just jealous of you.” It was an easy answer, yet over time it made her skeptical of her own gender.
Today, she struggles to unwire herself of this mindset and let down her guard. While it may have been true that some girls were jealous, hearing this repeatedly has kept her from forming deep relationships.
I thought of this after receiving an email from a mom whose 3rd-grade daughter was hurt by friends. What stood out about this mom was a realization she had after telling her daughter “girls are mean” in a desperate effort to soothe her.
“I didn’t like hearing those words come out of my mouth,” this mom said. “Afterward I thought, ‘That can’t happen again.’ It didn’t make me feel better, and I don’t think that is the way to go through life. How will girls ever see themselves if everyone seems to agree that girls are mean? I don’t accept any other blanket statements, so why should we accept this one which has such long, destructive tentacles?”
For the record, her daughter had every reason to feel hurt. A game called “5 Things I Hate about You” had gone around their class, and a close friend turned it on her. Yet even in the aftermath, this mom searched for a better response, something to help her daughter stay confident and find a position of strength.
It is heart-wrenching to see your child upset.
Typically, it is conflict with a peer that gets them down.
Kids can put on a tough act at school and in their extra-curricular activities, but when they get home (or in your car for pick-up) the walls come tumbling down. They save their heartache and hurt for you, sometimes in the form of a meltdown.
As a parent, it’s hard to choose a response. Do you get involved or not? Is it enough to comfort your child and guide them – or should you take it a step further?
While some events are clear bullying and warrant parental involvement, most incidents fall in a gray area. Many incidents today get called “bullying” but are really kids being mean, rude, or insensitive.
There are no tidy answers, but I do know this: Not every problem your child faces will have immediate closure. Not every offense deserves a call to another parent, a school, or a coach. Your first instinct is not always your best instinct – especially if you want to go nuclear.
Sadly, we live in an age of nuclear reactions. We live in a time where even adults lack boundaries and act on rash emotions that make them lose credibility. Remember how it used to be rude to call someone after 9 p.m.? Well, now there is text and email. At any hour, we can give someone a piece of our mind, shooting off anger, frustration, and outrage. We can write things that we’d never say out loud if we took a minute to breathe, calm down, and think.