Arrogance is the camouflage of insecurity.Tim Fargo
Recent social media and television reports (including Good Morning America) have highlighted a disturbing aspect of the social lives of American girls: mean moms. Bloggers and mothers from around the country have attested to stories of mothers using “social engineering” to ensure the popularity of their own daughters, using mean behavior and bullying to exclude others.
Stories of excluding certain girls from party invitations, from camp cabins, or other bullying examples abound.
Behavior is bullying if it is repeated, continues over time, and is used to harass the same target. Teasing, name-calling, and exclusion are all bullying behaviors.Professor and Principal Dr. Karen Siris
And while much has been written about the psychological effects of bullying, it’s also important to address the issue head-on and to determine if we ourselves are the bullies. A mother’s motivation may be to protect, care for, encourage and support their daughters, yet the way in which we choose to express this may actually be damaging others. We may have unintentionally become bullies in order to get what we believe is necessary for our own daughters, in the process modeling unwanted behavior.
As a mom, we may not even realize that our behavior is damaging to these young girls. We may see it only as protecting our own child from the intense social pressures around them. And certainly most mothers would agree that they act out of love. However, any of our behavior which excludes rather than seeks to include is most likely detrimental to the well-being of others and a poor role model for our own daughters.
What we need to acknowledge revolves around feelings of perceived lack within one or more areas:
- That if we are defending, attacking, protecting, and in some instances outright bullying, that we do this because of our own feelings of impotence, inadequacy or powerlessness.
- This lack usually has roots in our childhood and adolescence and carries over into our adult lives, where we may feel powerless in our careers, relationships, or general outlook on life.
- A mom might have been minimized, ignored fully, or abused in her childhood and or adolescence, and may even be wishing on a unconscious level that she had had the protection and care of her own mother.
Regardless of the cause, it is still important to recognize our own actions without guilt or judgment. We then need to learn to work on the underlying causes and behaviors, so that we may embody the good that we all aspire to in parenting and life.
My wish for you today is that you are able to see ways to extend compassion to yourself and others.
Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD, Director, Nassau Guidance and Counseling.