A clique away: Aggression of girls, part 2
If your daughter is the aggressor
If you find yourself confronted by the parent of a targeted girl, calmly apologize and find specific details about what your daughter has done or said. Ask for a grace period, during which time you will talk with your daughter. Follow through as soon as possible with the parent.
If your daughter denies wrongdoing, dig further. As a Christian parent, you have a strong basis for teaching your daughter what God says about loving one another, treating others fairly, and being friends. You can love your daughter unconditionally but hold her accountable for her behavior. Do not blame anyone else, even yourself, for your daughter's actions. If necessary involve your daughter in Christian counseling and even consider removing her from a high peer-pressure clique if needed.
The parent factor
Give your daughter a godly foundation for building appropriate relationships:
- Talk about how friends behave. Model genuine, caring friendships.
- Tell stories about your own childhood. If the road got rocky for you at times, say so.
- Spend time with your daughter, alone. You too, Dad! Your daughter needs your presence, listening ear, and male perspective on the social issues in her life.
- Form a parent support group in your church. Pray together and encourage one another.
- Recognize that your daughter will not share every detail of her life with you.
- Teach her that it is ok to fail, even in friendship.
- Ask about her day, every day. Inquire about what she does at recess, who she sits at lunch with, and what happened on the school bus.
If bullying, exclusion, and undercover torment is already a reality for your daughter, you must:
- Listen! Always affirm your daughter's feelings. Never belittle how she feels.
- Never say, "This will pass," or "This happens to everyone." Do not boil down the solution to "Just walk away." In doing so, you will slam the door of communication and force your daughter to face the vultures alone.
- Ask for her input before you become actively involved. You can assist in having her seat moved, switching her to another class, or changing schools altogether.
- Confront another parent as a last resort. This action often makes the situation worse. Defensive or angry parents may punish their daughter severely, which eventually will lead to more vigorous abuse of your daughter.
Changing the face of covert female aggression will take time, communication, and parents who care. Support your daughter, know her friends, and connect with her school. Pray for wisdom and be your daughter's best advocate.