Mean Girls

We are our own worst enemy: Or so the news media say. This is overblown (cat fights sell), but even the most outrageous positions often have basis in fact, however misunderstood or manipulated. Women tearing down women is no exception. And it starts in school.


Ell Brown
Source: Flickr – Ell Brown

The playground: Where all parents’ best intentions for their children’s self-esteem go to die. Whether of the bully or the bullied, self-esteem twists and warps amid the monkey-bars, swing sets, and jump ropes of American playgrounds. Girls can be particularly vicious in this spawning ground for mean girls.

I was bullied mercilessly in elementary school not on the playground, but on the school bus. My brothers and I were Jack Skellington skinny and buck-toothed, ripe for the torturing. Some of the bullies were boys, but led by girls. Interestingly, the bullying ended when the bus rolled into the school yard. At school, I was insulated by my small posse of friends.

Sadly, some in my group flirted with the idea of bullying younger kids, and some actually engaged in subtler forms. I never did. I simply could not inflict the same pain on others I had endured only hours earlier and would endure hours later on the dreaded school bus. However, I did stand by and let it happen. I told myself I did not have the power to stop it, but that was a lie. I felt guilty – I was! I wished my friends had experienced what I had. Then they wouldn’t do what they were doing.  Right?


BackYard Bullies vs. Black Ice Brawlers
Source: Flickr gt8073a

Today the stakes are so much higher. Hardly a day goes by without hearing about the suicide of a tween or teenager taunted to the point of taking her own life. This has to stop. But how?

How do we save the lives of the bullied? Raise girls impervious to the sneers and jeers of insecure mean girls? How do we create a safety net for these girls?

How do we save the souls of the bullies? If only the mean girls could experience what it was really like to walk in the bullied’s shoes. How can we make that happen? How do we shake them by the hearts, unlock their empathy, demand they take responsibility for their insidious actions?

How do we nip this ugliness in the bud before it grows into the cat fights we see in high school, college, and even in the workplace?


Source: Flickr – MDGovpics

Here’s something to consider: Do we, as Moms, so fear our daughters being bullied that we tolerate mean girl behavior? Do we feel it’s either/or, and we would prefer they be the bully versus the bullied?

Raising my daughter, I struggled with this.

Do you?

Bullying has become so toxic, resource abound, including strong social media and traditional media campaigns and websites devoted to stopping bullying. Even the government is involved.  Let’s get educated and get our girls off on the right foot with each other and themselves.

Joe Bielawa
Source: Flickr – Joe Bielawa


Do you suffer from Best-Friendlessness? A frequent, and by far the saddest, response to my novel STELLA ROSE is: “I’ve never had a friendship like Stella and Abby’s.” This reminds me first, how lucky I am to have experienced wonderful friendships; and second, how many women are not so lucky.

When I hear this, I ask: “Why is that, do you think?” I am curious. How can friendship come easily to some, challenging for others, or downright impossible?

Read more

The Groundhog Day Factor

The Friendship Phenomena #4: The GroundHog Day Factor

Our relationships with our parents change as we and our parents age. Our relationship with a life partner changes – sometimes it survives, sometimes it doesn’t, but it always changes. Our relationships with our children change. This is necessary so that we can let them go, for that is our only inviolable responsibility as parents – to prepare our children for life without us. Read more

Kurdish Proverb, "A cup of coffee commits one to forty years of friendship."

The Fountain of Youth

The Friendship Phenomena #3: The Fountain of Youth

Found most acutely in friendships forged in childhood or adolescence, the Fountain of Youth phenomenon is the most fun. When my group of friends from high school, aka, The Girls, gets together, we are sixteen again. Mentally, emotionally, intellectually – and yes, physically, due to mind over matter – we are back in high school. Read more

We are friends; we must assist each other to bear our burdens. ~ Native American Proverb, Osage

The Good Life Factor

Friendship Phenomena #2: The Good Life Factor

To lead a good life, we need good friends. Maintaining strong friendships is challenging with so much vying for our attention. Let’s resist the temptation to deprioritize friendship, and consider friends as living, loving recharging stations. We plug in and download all our angst about being wives, mothers, daughters, employees, artists.

Then we return to these roles recharged.
In fact, without friends, we may not return at all.
Am I the only one who’s ever fantasized about running away from home – in my 30s? Read more