Mean Girls

Yes, I am afraid of the time when my daughter finally becomes a teenager—that is true—but it goes way beyond that. I am afraid of teenage GIRLS, in general. The vision of my daughter being one sends chills down my spine, but more frightening than that is the idea of her being hurt by one. Teenage girls can be M-E-A-N—mean! I see them walking home from school, from the back, they all look the same—skinny jeans, Ugg boots, plaid shirts, and long hair—they look like clones. So, what if you stray from the accepted norm—will you be ostracized? rejected? tormented? Having a daughter, I want to shield her, protect her from girls who could possibly damage her self-esteem, and at the same time I want to be sure that she never, EVER turns into one of them—a mean girl. For this reason, I have attempted to help prepare her for the teen years in a couple of different ways (unfortunately, I won’t know if it worked for another six or seven years—so you’ll have to check back for an update then).

The first way was by having her embrace her individuality. Although I didn’t really have any other choice but to let my daughter be herself (she is too strong willed to have it be any other way), I have tried to influence her whenever I could. At the age of two, she decided that she would only wear dresses, and for me—a former tomboy—this came as a bit of a shock. It got worse from there, she only liked Disney Princesses, and once  she even asked for a Barbie—but that’s where I drew the line. My childhood was spent playing outside, digging holes, building forts, and wishing I were a boy because being a cowgirl wasn’t good enough. A dress-wearing, princess playing, girlie-girl was not what I imagined when I first had a daughter. So, you can imagine how my mind would jump ahead 15 years and see my daughter as a possible future mean girl. From then on, I nurtured anything I saw in her that went against the norm. If she wanted to wear a pink plaid skirt with a bright yellow polka-dotted sweater and blue socks, I would be happy that she wanted to create her own style, no matter how odd. I let her do her hair however she wanted—or not at all—it made no difference to me. As she’s gotten older, she has toned down the interesting clothing combinations, in favor of more traditional choices—like the pair of Uggs she begged for for about three years until I finally gave in—but she likes to have a little flair with what she wears—maybe some pins that describe her personality, suspenders worn with a pair of jeans, or a brightly-colored scarf. She doesn’t want to be like anyone else—she is not a follower—and she isn’t afraid to both standout and be herself. I don’t know if this alone will prevent her from becoming a “clone,” but I think it’s a good start.

I’ve also watched movies with her that focus on the kind of meanness that I most fear—like Mean Girls. The first time we watched it, she was probably five or six—I know, completely crazy—BUT she was so young that most of it went right over her head, so I took the opportunity to show her how mean girls behave. I wanted her to see what they looked like, how they acted, and to understand why others might be stupid enough to follow them. Even at such a young age, or maybe because of it, the movie made quite an impression on her. Over the next few weeks, she wanted to talk about it again and again, asking questions about why someone would want make others feel so bad. I loved watching her form her own opinion about how you should never act. Since then, I’ve tried to find ways to prepare her for being on the receiving end of this kind of meanness—explaining to her that meanness comes from a place of insecurity. My advice to my daughter is to be brave throughout life—especially when faced with people who want to tear her down, and to always be herself, even when others might ridicule her for it.

Published by Erin Rehill

A few years ago, my then eight-year-old daughter told me that she wished I could write down all the things I told her so that she wouldn’t forget them when she got older. In that moment, my daughter gave me such a sense of validation, something I hadn’t really experienced in that way. As parents, we don’t often receive confirmation from our children that we are doing a good job, or that we even know what we are talking about. Since that time, I’ve started to pay more attention to the things I tell her, often thinking to myself “Will she remember this when she is older?” So, this is for her, my words of advice to be read, thought about, laughed at, and maybe even used, when she is older.

Join the Conversation


  1. Great advice to be strong and confident. Kids can be so mean to one another.

    visiting from #commenthour

  2. I am a teacher & I worry about things like this for my own kids every day & they are 3 & a half and almost 2. I don’t even want them to start elementary school with all that there is that they can learn from other kids out there. I just pray I do as good a job raising my kids as my parents did me…if I do, then I know they’ll be okay.

  3. Sometimes I am glad I have a son. I know that boys can be mean too but they aren’t as mean as girls. We get jealous too easily. I do love that movie though ; )

  4. I think it’s great that you and your daughter are so different. It shows that both of you have your own personalities. Here from #commenthour.


  5. I think you are doing everything right by talking about those issues and girl drama now, so that she knows how you feel later. It is so important!
    Here from #commenthour

  6. Really enjoyed this one. I’m so glad my kids are still young, totally fearing the school years and potential bullying,drama, etc. Erin, I’m impressed with a different post everyday! I’m so crazy about their photo books, I’ve been working on them lately and everything is in chronological order but I should start something like this one day. Or print out your blog and hand it to Riley years from now!!! xo

  7. Even though my kids are still very young, I watch teenagers now with a parents eye. I listen extra carefully to parents with teenagers. I fear that I will feel as unprepared when the time comes as I do now! Great post.

  8. Mean girls can be mean women, sometimes it doesn’t stop at teenager. It is difficult to hold onto yourself with a flurry of bulliness. We see it every day in the media with people making up stories to put doubt in other minds based on lies. Facts are no longer honored or accepted for the truth they are. Mean is all around us. Teaching someone about it and how to handle it is a good parenting lesson.

  9. It’s amazing how fast they grow up ….. my son is 15 now, taller then me, and a know it all to boot. Can’t get through his thick skull but he is an amazing kid, and I did something right. Enjoy the little moments, all the hugs and kisses, cuz someday soon, it will be so uncool to hug and kiss your parents… enjoy the moments when they still expect you to kiss their boo-boo’s cuz, pretty soon they’ll be to tough for magic Mommy kisses….. time goes so fast for us, and so slow for them because all they want is to grow up. ;:sigh::

    stopping by via #commenthour 🙂

  10. Great advice. I think getting a head start early on really does make an impact. Most of the “mean girls” I knew throughout high school had either one of two things: parents who were completely uninvolved in their lives, or parents who were too involved to the point of almost supporting their children in all their wrong decisions.

  11. great post! I have 2 daughters, and never want them to be the ‘mean girl’ and embrace their individuality.

    stopping by & following from the #commenthour-way late!

  12. I’m confused. You said you supported your daughters individuality, but, a few sentences later, you seem unsupportive of the form her individuality took?

    1. True, in a way. I don’t always like the things my daughter is into, like Disney Princesses and the need for Ugg boots, but I support her and would never force her to be just like me. However, when she likes something that I perceive as different from the norm, I do encourage her to pursue it.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  13. Even though my daughter’s only eighteen months- and so so sweet- I fear the teenage years too. Maybe because I remember my own teenage years and think Oh Oh. If she’s anything like me- strong willed, curious, and determined, I have my work cut out for me.
    I love your posts Erin, I look forward to them like a bed time story.

  14. think you have taken some great steps. The main reason I made it through those horrid teenage years was because I KNEW who I was and stuck to that. I also had some great friends, who are still my friends to this day. I only have sons and I am scared of teenage girls too. I will not hesitate to embarrass my sons and tell a girl off if she is behaving poorly no matter how big a crush they have.

  15. Ugh. Mean girls. My now 20 year old girl went through a 7th grade that was so notorious that a school meeting had to be held. No suprise to see the shocking behavior and reactions (or lack thereof) of the parents of the mean girls. My daughter fared well as she was (and is) tough and resilient – and somehow (not from me) knows how to NEVER let them see you cry – but it was truly awful. Ironically, she and I talk still today about it, and how there are “mean women” and that it really never changes for some. Great post.

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