Note: In September I wrote Mean Girls – A Lifestyle (September 30) and many of you requested that I write something about Mean Moms. It took some time to do the research, but here are my findings.
Our kids can’t be perfect because we, the parents, aren’t. We’re flawed. We’ve made many mistakes and have had some pretty impressive “holy crap I’m an idiot” episodes in our adult careers. Which all makes it impossible for our kids to be pillars of perfection. We’ve screwed them up either through the transfer of our faulty genetic code and/or through our children’s exposure to our moronic moments. It rubs off of them, I’m sure, like second-hand smoke. The fatal flaw in parenting is thinking your kids are perfect. This, I have found, is the primary reason for the increase in the number of Mean Girls currently terrorizing their peers. Parents thinking their children can do no wrong.
Now, think about this for a minute, let it sink in, you have a perfect child. Wow, that has just made your parenting job so much easier. Do you even have to parent if your kid is perfect? Of course, you would still feed, house and clothe them, but hey, the heavy lifting of parenting is done. It is all smooth sailing. All you have to do is sit back and listen to the compliments on what a darling, exemplary child you have. Where can I sign up for that child-rearing scenario?
Thinking your progeny is perfection comes in very handy in so many ways. First, it’s a huge timesaver. If anyone complains about your child or if a caring educator points out a behavioral problem it’s N.B.D. -no big deal- because everyone is wrong. Your kid is perfect and therefore you are required to do absolutely nothing except think whoever singled out your child’s behavioral issue is simply beyond jealous. After all, just take a look at your sweetie, who wouldn’t be envious. Really, people need to put aside their petty jealousies and quit picking on your kid.
Second, it’s makes you feel so good about yourself. You must be pretty darn special to have created this super human. Admit it, your fabulous and your child is just like you. Forget the bumper sticker that says your child is an honor student. You need one that says, “I’m perfection therefore my child is too.” God forbid, anyone point out a foible in your child. You won’t stand for it. Why, if your child’s behavior is unkind bordering on evil, that would be wrong. Wrong because it would mean your child is not awesome and that would make you less awesome. Well, you will not stand for that. No one impinges on your awesomeness by critiquing your kid. Not just no, but hell no.
Third, the perfect parent/child combo creates an indestructible bond that requires no effort. Who needs to spend time together when you’re both already perched at the pinnacle of shared perfection. So, what if you don’t see your daughter that much. It’s not like you don’t text and you do take her shopping and get your eyebrows waxed together. Besides what could go wrong she’s perfect, your perfect, all is well.
Perfection is the common denominator that all mothers of mean girls (M.O.M.G.) share. Besides that one similarity they can be very different. There are M.O.M.G. that are M.A.B. (Middle Aged Barbies.) M.O.M.G. that wear mom jeans. Some M.O.M.G. work, some are stay-at-home. The M.O.M.G. can also be found in any socioeconomic group. Some mothers of means girls seem very nice. So nice, in fact you wonder how they procreated mini Satans. Some are clueless and some, well, let’s just say the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree. You can though, by applying the United States Defense Department’s Terriosm Criteria, breakdown the psychological make-up of the M.O.M.G and this is where it gets interesting. Mothers of Mean Girls have a whole lot in common with terrorist sects.
Like terrorists the M.O.M.G. begins training their recruit (daughter) at a very young age. It begins with the mobilization of like-minded individuals who fit their profile of “I’m better than you.” The first training camp is pre-school where the Mean Girls In Training (M.G.I.T.) embark on their first campaign – aggressive group exclusion and inequality in toy distribution, This, at time, can be accompanied by hand-to-hand combat and in some cases biting. (Basically “I want it, you have it, now it’s mine.”) On to elementary school where the M.O.M.G began to cultivate a culture of acceptance for intimidating and hurtful behavior. This lays the groundwork for middle school where the M.G.I.T. graduates to a full-fledged mean girl and is mission ready for her reign of adolescent assaults that are premeditated, socially motivated violence against non-combatant targets – girls that aren’t like them, girls they are jealous of or random girls unlucky enough to attract their attention. By high school the Mean Girls, through their years of training and funding by their mothers, have created their own terrorist cells that use the threat of violence, and psychological torture, to incur fear, coerce and intimidate.
According to school authorities, parents and counselors the biggest problem in attempting to neutralize the Mean Girl sect is that the M.O.M.G provide an impregnable terrorist sanctuary. There are four well-known battle strategies used to combat the Mean Girl, most if not all, are usually epic fails.
Mom-to-Mom Combat: This is when the mother of the girl being terrorized calls the mother of the mean girl and attempts to negotiate a cease and desist. This fails miserably because the M.O.M.G. refuses to hear anything less than stellar about her daughter due to the aforementioned “My child is perfect” delusion. In some cases, the M.O.M.G has even resorted to threatening the mom (whose daughter’s is afraid to go to school) with a restraining order for “harassment.” How can this happen you ask? Well, the mother of the mean girl “go to” reaction is shock and rage that anyone would dare say anything negative about her child and in her book that qualifies as harassment and a call to an attorney.
Call for back-up: In this case it means enlist the school for help. Sadly, the majority of schools are inadequate in their response. One retired principal told me that “it will take a “female Columbine,” a girl shooting up a school, before officials realize that this is harmful bullying that threatens a student’s safety. One friend of mine, after the school offered no viable relief for her daughters daily torture, went to school everyday, 7 hours a day, with her daughter to offer protection. She says the Mean Girls even gave her trouble. She videotaped it on her phone, showed it to the girls mothers and they didn’t believe it. All the mothers accused her of editing it. Yeah right, like us moms know how to edit a video on our phone.
Tough it out: Most parents after going through steps 1 & 2 settle on their daughter trying to lay low, not draw attention to herself and see if the Mean Girls move on to another target. This sometimes work, but the emotional cost to the child is very high.
Remove child from hostile environment: This involves changing public schools, enrolling in private school or even home-schooling. Although, this sounds like a game changer the Mean Girls still maintain their campaign of harassment on the internet and through texts.
According to the Defense Department the primary tool for halting terrorism is preemption – stopping it before it begins. That means, at the very least, to slow down the growth of this sorority of hate, we have to parent with our eyes wide open. I’m doubting we, 21st century moms, have the guts to do that. We would have to admit our children make mistakes, can be excruciatingly unkind and need firm direction. We’d even have to (gasp) be role models. In our busy, self-important world who has the time to parent like our daughters lives depend on it.
*Thank you for reading Snarky. To stay up-to-date on when I make a new post you can go to Facebook, type in Snarky in the Suburbs and click on like or go to twitter @snarkynsuburbs.