Today we’re sharing an article written by Julie Cole, co-founder of Mabel’s Labels and proud mom of six kids, including three daughters between the ages of 9 and 13.
In this article, originally published on the Mabelhood blog (and re-published here with permission) Julie reflects on whether the “mean girl” phenomenon is really as common as we’re lead to believe it is from the media. We’d love to hear your thoughts – have you experienced “mean girl” situations with your daughter, or as a tween yourself? What advice might you have for other parents of tweens?
– Be sure to enter our giveaway for your chance to win a Tween Pack of Mabel’s Labels too!
Mean Girls: Sexist Stereotype or Reality?
by Julie Cole
We’ve all heard the term “mean girls.” It refers to the notion that tween and teen girls are exclusively and irrationally mean to one another. A notion so popular that it was made into a movie, which was so popular they followed it up the sequel, Mean girls 2. Personally, I find the term bothersome – though any generalization, particularly when it targets young women, makes me twitchy.
Sure, I’ve heard some girl bullying stories and I know that friendship, emotions, social lives and defining one’s place in the world are all complicated issues for young people. As they develop into tweens, then teens, it’s no longer about making friendship bracelets for one another and fawning over their pop idol. Sometimes along the journey, kids find themselves acting in a way that might not reflect the kind of person they will be once they mature.
Honestly, with three girls ages 9, 12 and 13, I have had no personal experience with “mean girl” situations. None have them have had any friendship drama, issues with exclusivity, cyber bullying, or experienced general “mean girl” attitudes from their friends and peers about a girls clothing or status.
I tried to reflect on why maybe we’ve been able to avoid this drama that we hear and read so much about.
- Role modeling. My girls don’t see me act petty or gossip about people. I don’t speak badly of my friends or other women. I try to role model good behavior.
- Resilience. I find that if my girls have a problem with a kid, they tell that kid and move on without holding a grudge. Perhaps that is a result of being a part of a big family. We HAVE to deal with our issues and move on in our family or we couldn’t function otherwise. With so many people in one household and so many personalities there is too much room for conflict. Perhaps my girls have generalized that skill with their social groups outside of the home. I’ve also noticed that if a kid is being a goof, my daughters are not desperate to gain that kid’s acceptance or approval. They simply move on to their other friends. They don’t try to hang out with kids who don’t want to hang out with them.
- If my girls do tell me about a child at school who is not acting kindly to others, I remind them that something is likely going on with that kid or their parents, at home or otherwise, that is making them feel vulnerable and insecure. Their behaviour may be reflecting that. We need to be patient, but also speak out and self-advocate.
I’m pretty sure there are many mothers out there doing these same things, yet have kids who seem to attract drama and conflict in their social situations. Is the mean girl phenomenon one of many stereotypes or has this been a real issue in your family?
Mabel’s Labels Tween Pack Giveaway
To enter for a chance to win your choice of a personalized Mabel’s Labels Tween Pack in either the Sassy or the Sporty theme, please comment below with either your experience with mean girls, or a funny story about tweens.
One random winner will be chosen from all comments below on October 31st. One entry per person, regardless of number of comments. In event of multiple comments from one person, only the first comment will be considered for entry into the giveaway.