Teaching the Mean

By: Lara Winburn

I have a three-year-old little girl. She is chatty, funny, a little mischievous, and sassy. Sassy… I can handle, you know apple/tree, whatcha gonna do? But right now there is one thing she is not; she is not mean and hopefully never will be. Mean girls suck. Sorry Momma, I know you hate that word, but it is true.

Mean girlsI am sure that somewhere along the way I have been a mean girl, but hopefully not on a regular basis since I wore a cheerleading uniform, which was a while ago. I have outgrown that uniform (sadly) and that behavior (thankfully). There are plenty of unflattering ways to describe me- stubborn, sassy, scattered, loud and opinionated. I will take those, but I would hope mean girl is not on that list.

Growing up, I never enjoyed making declarations like “we are not friends with Suzy this week” or “YOU CAN come over to play and YOU CANNOT.” Plus, my mom was having none of that.

But as an adult and now a mother, I have noticed something.  Sometimes, I’m afraid we are teaching the mean.

I am not starting rumors about moms at the park, and you are probably not disinviting ladies to your slumber party. BUT, I am sure there has been the occasional eye roll or a catty cell phone comment made in front of my little girl. And there is three-year-old Sponge Babe Sassy Pants in the back seat listening to and absorbing EVERY WORD. She already reads expressions and tone. Am I teaching the mean? Maybe more mindful mommy talk is in order.

When I taught second grade, I witnessed mean girl behavior already developing in these seven and eight year old angels. The funny thing was after spending a little time with their moms, you could see the mean girl in them too. Not evil, bad people, not even bad moms – they were just spending a lot of time judging or ostracizing others or, worse yet, judging themselves. Inadvertently, teaching the mean.

My mommy style is FAR FROM PERFECT but I will tirelessly try not to teach the mean. Instead, I think I will try to teach a little more sweetness, being kinder to others and myself. Remember:

“Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.” – Cady, Lindsay Lohan’s character in “Mean Girls”

PS Who thought Lindsay Lohan could offer such a nugget of wisdom?

PSS If anyone reading this thinks I’ve been a mean girl to them, my sincerest apologies.  (sometimes stubborn, sassy, scattered, loud and opinionated comes out a little mean).

2 thoughts on “Teaching the Mean

  1. You are “spot on” with the acorn doesn’t falls far from the tree analogy. The message we send with silence is also as profound as actual wordage. Standing up to meanness can turn the tide, no doubt. That takes tons of courage. Keep writing these powerful thoughts.

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