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Friday, May 14, 2010

May: Will Mean Girls Regret Their Behavior?

Lisa says, "Maybe is picked on at school by the stuck-up, popular girls. Do you think any of them will ever regret being so mean in high school?"


Martha Brockenbrough said...

Maybe I'm just getting this on a bad day, but no...I don't think most of them will. Not without an experience in their lives that teaches them how they're hurting others.

And then they'll go on to have daughters who do the same thing.

I have a 9-year-old who feels like she's unpopular. Just yesterday she asked me if we could go buy a certain kind of eraser--she thinks that might do the trick. It won't. I bought her those, and one of the mean girls took them from her. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

The same girl also said the dance and theater group my daughter belongs to does "lame" shows, and that the good group in town is so much cooler. (Hmm. One group is affordable and diverse. One group isn't.)

Anyway, I treating it as an opportunity to help my child develop inner strength and compassion. But when I read what Maybe went through, I wanted to strangle those fictional characters every bit as much as I sometimes want to rain a little hell on the heads of the kids who make my amazing little girl cry.

Melissa Walker said...

Rain a little hell, Martha! Your daughter will grow up rocking it, I have no doubt.

I always think that the Mean Girls are never really happy. That makes me feel better. Like, they smile and laugh but the sound is full of air and pretense. They don't know friends like I know friends. So there!

Milli said...

I don't think they will...sadely.

Georgia said...

I think lots of mean girls grow up to be catty, superficial women, but some do grow out of it. The ones that grow out of it probably have a reason WHY they do though. Something that changes them and makes them see why they should change... Like in Before I Fall.

TeresaR said...

My friends from high school who are crazy enough to attend the reunions (it'll be our 28th reunion this year, if there is one) tell me definitively that, no, mean girls never change. :(

Lisa Yee said...

Mean girls are bullies, and I've been very saddened by the recent suicides caused by some of them.

I do hope though, that more people will talk about what is appropriate behavior, and what is just plain meanness. Because the more we talk about it, the less cool it will be hurt someone else.

alixwrites said...

I think sometimes they do. I had a friend in high school who was very popular and nice to everyone. She told me about regretting some mean stuff she'd done to others in middle school.

Having been a picked-on kid in middle school myself, I've had a couple of experiences as an adult where people have apologized for being mean. I had a woman write me last year, someone who was hugely mean to me and very aware of it, to tell me that her daughters really love my books. I'm Facebook friends with another mean girl who has apologized for being b*tchy.

That said, I think it's important to encourage kids to be nice, not just assume they will be. I have two daughters, one of whom, K, is a "weird girl," who gets picked on, and the other, M, is more mainstream. With K, it sort of surprised me that 2 women I considered my friends didn't seem to care if their daughters were mean to K. It was like they were afraid their kids would be outcasts if they weren't mean (I patiently explained to one that I didn't want her daughter and K to be best friends -- truth be told, I loathe her daughter and think she'll come to a bad end for being such a little follower, but I didn't say that -- but I thought her daughter could be civil). M is more popular, and I always tell her I won't tolerate her being mean to anyone. I'm not above forcing her to include people (such as, if we have a party at our house, she has to invite the neighbor's daughter, who is unpopular), and we discuss it frequently. I think she's still well-liked despite not being a mean girl. However, one time she told me she was playing with some of the unpopular girls in her class, and one of the cool girls, B, said, "Why were you playing with THEM? M told me, "I didn't like B telling me who to play with." She's not super-close with B, who is one of the most popular girls in the class, but she's still basically well-liked, and I think that's better than being super-popular, but hated and feared!

SarahChristine said...

there are the people that might regret future down the road about how they had acted in high school but yet to me it seems that many o them just stay the same way of always trying to put people down to look good and acting like they are the "best"

Shelf Elf said...

I don't think most mean girls regret their behavior later in life. It's hard to really look at yourself and think about how your past actions have hurt others. I agree that unless something big happens that forces a mean girl to see her true mean-ness, she isn't likely to change much. You are who you are. It's hard to change, especially when you have a lot of practice being not very nice.

Dia Calhoun said...

Some will grow better, some will grow worse. I don't think you can generalize here. But I agree, that those who do change will have a catalyst experience.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Sympathies, Martha. And empowerment to your daughter.

I can say I don't know if they stay the same because they certainly aren't part of my life now. They bounced against the edge of my circle, but they never made it to the inside.

Here's to Maybe's awesome friends!

holly cupala said...

I think this has so much to do with the way we see ourselves. Mean girls probably don't even really know they are mean. There's that saying: we judge others by their actions...we judge ourselves by our intentions. Like Martha and others said, it can take a cataclysmic life event for someone to be able to see themselves more clearly and recognize how capable we are of hurting others.