Personally, I feel very fortunate that while growing up, I had very supportive, fun-loving, and tried-and-true girlfriends that I still cherish today. We were there for each other through laughter and tears. We watched one another succeed and fail, and cheered each other on through triumph and defeat, whether it was academics, sports, or relationships... I can only hope that my daughter will be lucky enough to experience the joy of good friendships during her elementary, high school, and college years (and beyond)....
Likewise, I am thankful that my memories of any mean-girl scenarios did not last more than a recess, (or perhaps a week-long series of recesses). Fortunately, I do not recall ever being seriously traumatized by any one 'mean-girl'. AND, these scenarios occurred over a period of say, 2-3 years, that seem typical of middle-school girl behavior. Silly 4th-5th-6th grade non-sense in the form of 'who are we going to dump this week?' ....And, I am pretty sure that everyone fell 'victim' at one point or another. I am sure it was plenty dramatic and painful for anyone who got 'dumped' for the week, but it was temporary and fleeting, and certainly comical when we look back on it. There was, of course, the occasional 'teasing' that went on among our friends. But, the perpetrators always confessed that this excessive teasing originated from jealousy (as if that was supposed to be a compliment or something, but hey, at least there was acknowledgement of the source of this behavior!)
Yet, so many others tell countless tales of 'that one mean girl' from elementary or high school that seriously tainted their school experience and adolescent years. How sad that their memory of elementary or high school should be so tarnished from such mean behavior by one insecure, miserable bully? I often wonder whether these mean girls actually do 'grow up' to be mean adults or if they grow out of it.
As a side note, any mother can attest to the fact that there is no other endeavor in life that will rock your confidence more than motherhood...It naturally brings feelings of insecurity, frustration, and utter cluelessness. As such, if mean behavior is so rooted in insecurity, this 'mean-judgemental-gossipy-mom' phenomenon would naturally follow suit, if we are not mindful of our behavior. Frandsen has concluded that the mean girl does not grow out of it, as she states, "mean girls grow up to be mean moms." I can only hope this is not ALWAYS the case. Yet, it does bring to mind the following story.
A good friend of mine (let's call her Jane) has an interesting experience of re-uniting with her former elementary school bully at her daughter's 'meet-the-fellow-kindergarten-parents' meeting. You can only imagine the pit in Jane's stomach upon learning that her daughter would be in the same class with her former bully's daughter. Surprisingly, when they initially met after so many years, the former bully apologized to Jane for her mean-girl behavior from 25 years ago! Jane was thoroughly impressed and relieved to hear her acknowledgement and regret, and therefore of course forgave her. YET, as the school year progressed, the former bully's daughter gradually began to bully Jane's daughter. How crazy that this same cycle is repeating itself?! This makes me suspect Franden's theory might be (sadly) true.
On the other hand, the following two articles provide encouraging reminders that we can be kinder to one another, (and therefore better role-models to our children) if we are more aware of the sources of this behavior. I have to think it is never too late to grow up, set our insecurities aside (and learn to laugh at ourselves a bit), put our big-girl pants on, and remember to play nice ; )