The Madness of the Middle Years–Girl Problems

I’ve blogged about everyday bullies in sheep’s clothing before. But I’m beginning to realize that our society is rife with straight-up bully types as well. I understand this is a normal and somewhat expected part of middle school–especially among girls. I remember a bit of it from my own days as an awkward, insecure young girl.

But this mean girl culture is truly something I marvel about on a regular basis as I observe some of the behaviors all around my daughter and her small group of close friends. A pretty seventh grader, smart and athletic, she is smack-dab in the middle of the war, and the perfect target for all kinds of nastiness. Her tiny group is referred to as “the plastics.” My daughter and her friends aren’t mean girls, in fact, they try to get along with everyone and not cause conflict. But this faction who named them are overly concerned with everything they do–where they go, with whom they interact and which boys pay attention to them.

Some girls are nice some of the time, then turn on a dime. Hormones? Confusion? Probably a lot of both. It wreaks havoc on whom to trust for sure.

This pecking order is directly related to perceived popularity, interactions with boys, weight, and attractiveness. It is also an age-old issue. I tell her that because she is aesthetically gifted, she must be extra nice to everyone, more welcoming, and this leaves her even more vulnerable. It’s almost opposite of how you might expect.

My daughter’s not plastic. Certainly not perfect, she’s a warm, kind child who has compassion for others. But how long can she last without putting up walls to defend herself against those who seek to hurt her for things she can’t control?

I have blonde hair, and my whole life I’ve dealt with the sometimes very nasty blonde jokes intimating that I’m stupid. That hasn’t mattered, because I realized it isn’t personal. I also realize my being blonde pisses some people off for only that reason. I know this sounds like a “poor me, I’m blonde” statement, but it’s not. It’s wrong for anyone to be discriminated against for any reason: skin color, religion, weight, etc…

The name calling, gossiping, and nasty texts go on at every school in this country. Likely, most other countries as well. Sometimes the mode of unkindness is simply withholding an invite to a party to which all the friends or classmates are included.

Parents play a huge role in their children’s behavior toward others. Have a look at their phones and make sure they aren’t bullying by text. The group mentality is easy to get caught up in. In my book, kids at this age don’t have rights of privacy when it comes to their phones and computers. Lack of supervision is where the trouble starts.

Most kids aren’t bad people; they somehow find themselves on a slippery path led by others who have stronger “leadership” skills. They are most often terribly insecure and have a need to step atop others to feel more important. Strong character has to be built. Parents should have the highest level of input, not peers.

My disclaimer here is that this isn’t about any one child. It represents a culture in our society right now who is getting a ton of attention for this exact type of behavior.

Sorry this is one of the ranting kind of bloggy days…

Susan

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