I spent much of a few weekends ago trying to comfort my little 12-year-old girl. A lot of tears were spilled and even more moments of quiet introspection. All around the topic of other girls bullying.
Middle school is hard. Hard for everyone; from the parents to the kids. Now having my 3rd child go through this time in their life, I can say in no uncertain terms that it is far harder for girls then for boys.
I am at a bit of a loss as to why. Middle School age girls can be mean; they can be cruel. I know that my daughter is not perfect, far from it. As she is growing up, she is pushing her own boundaries, trying to find who she is (and at times driving her parents nuts). That means a lot of arguments and testing of wills at home. Rules are not followed and at times she is either sassy or just plain obstinate. I am sure that she is not always an angel with her friends either. In other words, I expect she can be mean at times as well. But I think (and hope) that she realizes that she can be hurtful and soon thereafter regrets it. When she does fight with her friends, she seems to quickly move on from whatever issue caused the rift and all is forgotten.
So why are girls so much harder then boys? Why are they cruel? The way they are brought up certainly can be part of it, but I don’t think that is the case the majority of the time. I am starting to wonder if it is their desire to be liked by other girls. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have seen what girls do to ensure they are liked and appreciated by other girls. And I am at a loss why they are so different then boys of a similar age.
The best example I have seen recently is watching boys and girls getting ready to go to a friend’s house. When boys get ready, they will gather some things together, throw them in a bag and head out. Girls on the other hand, will spend an inordinate amount of time choosing what clothes to wear, fixing their hair and making sure their makeup is “perfect”. Then once they are all done, they will basically do it all over again because to was not as they envisioned it would be.
Do their friends really notice? I think for boys the answer is easy: no. But girls are not as clear. My sense is that no, girls don’t notice as much as they might think. Sure, they will compliment each other; but will they think less of their friends if they don’t look all jazzed up? No matter how I try and point this out to my daughter, I don’t think they message is heard.
Why is that? My guess is that I am male and a dad and I am so far from cool it is not even funny. In her eyes, I either don’t know or can’t understand.
After our “weekend”, I struggled what to do. This is not the first time this subject has reared its ugly head. But I was hoping she would learn how to walk away from these types of girls or how to manage the situation. But based on the amount of pain, I knew that was not working. So at 7:40am on a Monday, I walked into school (with daughter in tow) and spoke to the 7th grade school counselor. I knew that the school would care as much about this subject as I do. After spending time with the counselor, walking though what had occurred, I was pleased that my belief was not misplaced.
A plan was put into place with specific actions that needed to occur on both my daughter’s’ part and the counselor.
We shall see how the reminder of this year plays out. I can only hope that she will learn who her friends truly are. And realize that success is not how many friends you have but the quality of those friends.
Look at the face above? Who would want to bully someone like that? As a father, I want to guard and protect my baby(ies). But I also know that this is part of growing up. No one should have to experience pain. But unfortunately, I believe that unless you experience this pain, you won’t know how to handle it in the future.
And that is kind of lousy.