Dreaded Conversation with my daughter
Different Approach to Bullying
I must admit I have been hoping that this would not be an issue. I must have had my head in the sand since mean girls come in all shapes, sizes, forms and ages. My daughter is 9 and has been complaining about mean children since she was 3 years old. My sons never reported meanness as much as she has. My oldest son has Aspergers Syndrome and although I am sure there are children who have made fun of him throughout the years, he is oblivious to it, or able to refocus himself to something other than what they are saying. More than likely, he is aware, but like many people with this syndrome, he is able to turn off the feelings. My second son has reported some problems over the years, but since he has always towered over every other student in his class, I think they tend to leave him alone since all he has to do is step on one of them and he will have made his point.
My daughter, on other hand is a completely different situation. She is an artist. She is creative. She is for the most part truly a gifted child, very unique and special. That said, she is also highly sensitive and often not very good in social settings. She is easily plowed over by those more sophisticated in the rules of girl world. For several years she has reported crying in the bathroom and having to deal with mean children. Not just girls, mind you, there are mean boys in her class as well. At one point, we did indeed speak to school officials since she is often too timid to stand up for herself.
This morning, I had had enough. I told her that the girl that made her feel bad yesterday was the one who is a sad, sorry individual. I reminded her that people only try to make you feel bad because they feel awful about themselves. I told her that this girl has NO friends. That children are just with her because they are AFRAID fo her. I told her that is no way to live. I told her that being her friend was a privilege that this girl had not earned and may never earn.
We role played and practiced this morning. I pretended I was the girl, lets call her Edith since my daughter has no friends named Edith. When my daughter gave her little weak retort, I told her she was acting like a doormat and that I was not allowing it. We practiced until the answer was ready and sufficient. "You are not being a nice person right now and I would rather not be near you. If you decide to be a better person, just maybe I might speak to you, but maybe not. Goodbye." I told her that she was not obligated to be friends with everyone. It is just not reality. There are people that we just do not like in the world. Yes, we tolerate them, but we do not have to jump in the pool with them. We should never go out of our way to be mean to them, but you also do not owe them anything if they are cruel and unkind to you or your friends and family.
I am tired of being "politically correct". There are just some people that we do not need to give anymore attention that they are getting. My daughter will be fine if she does not have to listen to this girl anymore. She has plenty of children who are nice to her, she does not need to constantly listen to Edith. Edith spent the entire first two years of school crying due to separation anxiety. My daughter was confident enough to go right in the building smiling and ready to work. I do not need her torn down by someone who obviously has her own hang ups.
No, it is not her job to help Edith. It is my daughter's job to learn, grow and be the best person she can possibly be. This will not be accomplished if she is reduced to crying in the girl's room by someone who is actually in awe of her talents. She will have to deal with mean girls for the rest of her life, she must develop the thick skin now.
I worked for many years under female bosses. As a woman, I must say that female bosses are often horrible to work for. They have so much to prove that they often become vindicative in order to prove their point. It is a sad fact that women are not respected in the work force, nor in the world in general. Our country can boast all we want that we are better than most countries, but we are still not where we should be as far as women's rights. In most divorce cases, women get the shaft. In the work force, women are still talked about as sex objects or as hormonally unbalanced by male co-workers.
For 3 years I worked under a female boss who did every underhanded, manipulative female tactic that one can think of. She and her secretary, also a female, caused so many problems, I can't help but think their actions contributed to the fold of this business which had far less back stabbing and "girl type" behavior before their reign. I was victim to this at times. It was devastating. It took the wind out of my sails and stalled my career terribly. It also caused problems in my life all around. I am not going to let my daughter fall prey to this ever.
So here is the plan, I will continue to empower her. I will make sure that she knows just how special she is. I will make sure that she knows the road to success is not paved with meanness, or cruelty. She does not need to be like these girls to get ahead. What she needs to is to KNOW herself. To value herself as someone important. The saying "it is better to be alone than in bad company" is so true. I let my child take a look at her teacher who is a phenomenal woman. Her teacher stands up for herself, even if the masses are against her. She is a minority in many issues at this point in time, but holds fast. She is a strong, beautiful, successful, accomplished woman. We respect her, as do many others since she has been awarded by our community. She does not put up with children behaving in this manner. However, she wants my daughter to stand up for herself. It is easy for the adult to say "stop that". That works for the moment, but it is not lasting. We must all leave our imprint. We must know our hearts, souls and minds. We must love and respect ourselves or noone else will.
So, as long as this is not physical, I will continue to build up my daughter's confidence to place a shield between her and those who will attack. We cannot stop the bullying although we would like to think we can. So many are blind to it and think it is a "rite of passage". Also, even if we pass strict rules in school, what rules are passed in the workplace? What rules are placed in society? Our children must be impowered within themselves so that words truly do not hurt them. This way they are only able to process the words that are constructive, not destructive.