One night during high school, I received a text message from a group of girls telling me I was fat and needed to lose weight.
At the time I felt bad and embarrassed for them. It honestly stunned me that people could be so downright mean and insecure.
Now that I am married with a daughter of my own, my thoughts about it have slightly shifted. I find myself wondering about those girls' mums. Where were they? And why didn't they teach their daughters to be kind?
Years later, I ran into one of those girls at the store. We both had our young daughters with us. I didn't have ill feelings toward her and honestly assumed that we had both moved past the petty immaturity that tends to accompany those high school relationships. We were both wives and mothers now. Surely things that happened then would seem silly now -- even laughable. So, in passing, I said hello.
With a cold glance, and without a word, she walked away.
I was stunned.
It was at that moment, I realised two things:
1. Mean girls grow up to be mean mums.
2. Little girls learn from their mums how to be mean girls.
This "mean girl" gene doesn't come on intentionally. I don't think there are many people who pride themselves on being mean. However, we live in a technology-driven world that, in my opinion, breeds competitive feelings and makes that mean behaviour all too common.
Social media has created an atmosphere where people feel entitled to peek in on every aspect of your life. People feel entitled to say whatever they want. I cannot tell you how many times I have observed mothers, via social media, being downright nasty to one another about anything and everything. It is shocking and sad. But if it starts with us, it has to end with us. It's our responsibility, as mothers, to do everything in our power to make sure we aren't (even unknowingly) raising mean girls.
Be aware of yourself. Being a teacher, I can assure you that your children hear you. (And often quote you.) They observe you. They mimic you. They hear you tell your husband how that woman on Facebook "is so full of herself." They listen when you are on the phone with your girlfriend gossiping about the mum down the street. They even take in the critical things you say about your own appearance. They hear you. And then they become a product of everything they hear -- a product of you.