As mothers, each of us can commit to raising our daughters to be kind. We can vow to teach her to love her neighbor as herself. We can demonstrate compassion and model grace. We can instruct her on the fine and difficult art of establishing boundaries and we can walk her through friendships that hurt.
But let’s face it, sisters: there will always be mean girls.
Allow me to have a Martin Luther King, Jr. moment and proclaim that I have a dream of female camaraderie. I would love nothing more than to see a culture of women authentically support and love one other—could you imagine the power in this? No more extramarital affairs because we would all be a sisterhood. No more comparison, jealousy, or bitterness. Sounds pretty dreamy, doesn’t it?
Yet I’m not quite this naïve. While I want to strive to make this a reality, chances are this won’t actually happen until Jesus comes back.
Until then, it’s guaranteed mean girls will exist.
So how do we teach our daughters about Jesus through the sting of a mean girl’s hurt?
Last week, my eight-year-old daughter fell into my lap with crocodile tears brimming her eyes. When I inquired about what was making her so sad, she simply said, “Andrea told Elizabeth (names obviously changed) she didn’t like me anymore because all I want to do is play animals.”
Now, it’s true my daughter is two years younger than said girl. And it’s also true that said girl has a right to play with whoever she chooses. It’s just that said girl has been pitting the other girl and my daughter against each other because she wants to be the queen bee for quite a while now.
Though said girl is ten years old and believes her action won’t go unnoticed, I’ve been around the block a time or two so I can see the handwriting on the wall. I’m no fool and ain’t nobody got time for that. (So sorry. I had to work my new favorite phrase into this post. )
“Maybe I should stop playing animals,” she confesses after the tears have started to spill onto her cheeks.
I resist the urge to chime in with my two cents right away and sit with her in her pain for a moment.
“What do you think Aubryn or Sophie would say?” I ask, referring to her two closest friends who love to play animals, too.
“They probably would be sad that I don’t do that anymore,” she admits.
“So do you want to change something you enjoy just because one person made a hurtful comment about it?” I prod.
“No, but she also said she didn’t like me,” she answers, though the tears are dissipating.
I continue with the fact it’s just the first time she’s ever encountered this but it won’t be the last. I pass on the wisdom from my 87 year old grandmother that I’ve heard on countless occasions: “Not everyone is going to like you.”
And the other truth is that the fleshy, mama-bear side of me wants to take this girl behind our house and wring her neck. Yes, I realize this is sin. Yes, I realize I just revealed a big, ugly part of myself. And yes, I realize this would only make matters worse.
But don’t we all feel like this when someone says hurtful things about our children?
Suddenly, I hear a voice that can only be from the Holy Spirit because any good parenting discussions I ever have are from Him.
“Tell her who she is in MY eyes, “ He suggests.
Breathing deep, I continue. “Sis, you are going to face a lot of stuff in this world. There will be people who won’t like you just because of the way you look. They may not like you because you are a good reader or because you play with stuffed animals or fill-in-the-blank. But in the end, who does God say you are?”
“Fearfully and wonderfully made,” she quickly answers.
“Yes and not only that, but He knows how many hairs you have on your head. You are His beloved princess and He tells you ‘you are mine.’ He knows when you stand and when you sit and He has nothing but good for you—even when life seems hard,” I add.
It’s then I realize when the mean girls attack, and sadly, they will, we have some pretty powerful ammunition.
Turns out, the old saying about sticks and stones is wrong. Words do hurt.
But when we choose to follow Jesus, we dig our roots into who HE says we are. Not THEM.
We continue with a discussion on placing boundaries around relationships and thank God for the true friendships she does have.
We discuss the scripture that tells us to pray for our enemies and we pray for the girl who hurt her feelings. For the record, I didn’t want to but sometimes action must precede feeling.
I kiss her goodnight and I exhale as I close her door.
He has pulled through for me yet again in this journey of mothering a daughter.