Next up in our #miniSHEs series is an open letter on bullying to parents and caretakers of #miniSHEs and all small humans. Our very own Britt Whidden shares her experiences with us, and it will touch your heart. Britt is Young&BosSHE’s Director of Media and Digital Marketing.
Dear parents and caretakers of miniSHEs and all small humans,
Bullying is not a rite of passage.
If you suspect or have to hear the torment of your little one, the worst thing you can do is tell them that it gets better eventually. The worst thing you can tell them to do is not listen to the bully or tribe of haters.
We’ve seen bullying romanticized by the media and film for decades. Laney Boggs, played by Rachael Leigh Cook, in She’s All That is a character who is picked for plot because she’s seen as “less than” the popular kids. Only after taking off her glasses does she become a contender for the Zach Siler, played by Freddie Prinze Jr. We see the discourse of the bully compared in alternate realities in Back To The Future with Marty McFly and Biff Tannen.
In these films and many more, bullying seems like the tipping point for greatness by the underdogs, the nerds, and lower rungs of the high school hierarchy. Marty McFly becomes a hero for stopping the rape of his crush by Biff, the high school bully. What would have been different if Biff was taught healthy boundaries with peers? What if Biff was told he was good at something other than sports?
As a SHE who doesn’t have kids and doesn’t plan to biologically, this may seem very naïve.
I know you can’t stop someone else’s child or teen from being terrible to your miniSHE and small humans.
However, don’t tell your miniSHE, that this too will pass. It may not. She may carry the burden of being the smartest person in class and the least likely to get picked for teams in gym class for the rest of her life.
I still twinge every year when Prom season rolls around. It was around that time the SHEs I’d been friends with since the beginning of puberty told me I wasn’t allowed to participate in their pre-prom activities or take photos with them. Why? I was twice their weight and don’t photograph well. However, they still needed me to drive them to and from prom. When I talked to my parents about this, they said they’d already told the other caretakers I would bring our family vehicle over by 6 PM to load everyone up. My parents said I’d be glamourous and beautiful, no matter what.
This ideology would be reinforced with my battle with depression, mental illness and decades of working multiple jobs at once to prove I was good enough. If I listed out the names and other actions taken against me in those years, I would have to up the dosage on my head meds and we’d both lose a day of productivity.
It wouldn’t be until my junior year of college that I would think of myself as having friends again. It wouldn’t be until this time that I would learn I’m very funny and have an opinion worth voicing. I didn’t think my time, effort and knowledge was worth it.
What can you do?
Don’t be the hero she needs. Show her that she is the hero she needs. Nourish her creativity. Show her how to handle her anger and “unladylike” behaviors in a way that is constructive, not disruptive, to her growth.
Build a way for you two to communicate without expectations. You’ll have to be the most honest, open, and courageous you’ve ever been to do this. It will scare you more than it ever will her but you can’t expect her to be honest about how she’s dealing with the world if you aren’t honest first. Her world does involve sex, education, and planning for life after the next big step, just like yours.
If your miniSHE is the mean girl or bulling type in their grade, all of this still applies to them too. Love them as if they’ve never felt love before.
Teach them to talk about what they like and love about someone AND themselves.
I promise, their adult lives will all be better for it.
Looking for reads on #miniSHEs and bullying? Check out Odd Girl Out: The Hidden of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons, Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boys, and the New Realities of the Girl World by Rosalind Wiseman (and the inspiration for Mean Girls), and this book list from A Mighty Girl on bullying prevention. PS: Young&BosSHE, LLC. may receive some compensation if you purchase the books listed above!