Hey momma, I’ve got a story to share. It is quite a doozy. So pour yourself a cuppa tea in your favorite mug and listen. Middle school mean girls are everywhere, but we can teach our daughters how to overcome. I am living proof. Here is my story.
I felt his hot breath towering over my head. He lunged towards me with flared nostrils hurling unwarranted insults directly into my face.
“YOU ARE SO UGLY, I wish you would die!” His eyes glared into mine. I was cornered, too humiliated to retaliate.
His girlfriend, hanging on his arm, held him back pleading with him to stop. He was a classmate, one of the beloved students of our private middle school. My class of about 20 watched as I was helplessly attacked. Quietly, I stood off to the side as the rest of the class gathered around the door of our next class waiting for the math teacher to unlock it after lunch.
I was tucked away in this small Christian school for my safety. Instead, I was largely misunderstood. My previous elementary years were spent at a semi-violent public school in an urban setting. It was there that I learned early – survival trumped education.
I was misunderstood. The kid parents didn’t want their kids around. I was told not to talk about my home situation with other students. What most couldn’t see was the internal pain I suffered, while my family fell apart before my eyes. I was dealing with the recent trauma of my father’s arrest, and later conviction, for molesting me.
I never told anyone what my classmate did nor spoke of it again. Why? I believed him. I didn’t need his reasons why. I already felt dirty, unwanted, and blamed. This was more proof that what I felt was correct.
Fast forward several years…
The fresh aroma of fallen leaves and carved pumpkins filled the crisp Autumn night. Anna, Elsa, Ninja Turtles, and other fantasy creatures roamed our streets in search of candy. My porch light was shining in the darkness, welcoming each visitor.
The doorbell rang, I answered. Immediately, I recognized the face of the child’s chaperone. It was him. My former classmate, matured in form and feature – yes – but this I was certain. I called him by name to confirm. We exchanged awkward small talk for a moment. His sister lived in my neighborhood and our streets were easier for maneuvering his daughter’s wheelchair.
“This is your daughter?” I asked.
“Yes.” He replied.
I bent down looked her in straight in the eye and said, “You are BEAUTIFUL!”
There are so many ways this scenario could have played out. I was justified to slam the door shut in his face. Why did I choose to respond this way? Because I know the power of forgiveness and I believe EVERY little girl should be told often that – she is beautiful.
No child, not even his, should ever have to endure the torture of bullying. It’s a terrible place.
For most, middle school is an awkward season. Faltering between childhood and adulthood, kids are attempting to spread their wings with independence. Their changing bodies are ravaged with zits and the evil pubescent hormone begins changing individuals at its own pace, making some feel left behind.
Here are 7 ways to equip your middle school student to overcome difficulties:
- Speak out –A constant conversation builds a foundation of trust. Assure your child that their words are important, but must be communicated respectfully. Furthermore, ignoring uncomfortable topics will result in him/her going elsewhere for the information.
- Education is important – As our education system changes, the love of learning is being lost. Be an involved parent that consistently offers learning opportunities. A proper education builds confidence in the child, resulting in a self-thinking individual that seeks life outside the box.
- Be successful – Intentionally encourage your child. Teach them that criticism from others should not hold them back from being successful. Help them find their natural gifts.
- Forgive – Hanging on to the past gives the perpetrator power over your future. Forgiveness isn’t forgetting nor does it excuse the act. It does not mean reconciliation or include an apology. Forgiveness is between us and God. A God who cleanses the bitterness from our heart. As a result, we can deal with the pain in a healthy manner. The world is full of hurting people and forgiveness give us an opportunity to be example of true love.
- Kill them with kindness –Kindness shown with confidence is a powerful weapon. Show your child how to be the bigger person or to look for others who need kindness. Equip them by teaching boundaries so they can differentiate between encouraging someone in need and sharing their heart with a friend.
- Keep Faith –Difficulties should point us to Christ, our place of strength and endless wisdom. Faith reminds us that good will come and that we will either learn how to overcome situations or use these situations to build our character.
- Be Yourself – We were made to be individuals, not carbon copies. Because of this, we will have moments when we feel different. Being an individual means standing out not necessarily, fitting in. This takes courage. Finding who you are is a journey with lots of mistakes and challenges along the way.
Finally, it’s imperative to love families in crisis and to trust our kids to show compassion in a healthy way. Equip them by teaching boundaries so they can differentiate between encouraging someone in need, and sharing their heart with a friend.
As parents we either want to shelter our child or let them go too soon. Instead, let’s equip the next generation to become strong in adversity and empower them to withstand the difficulties ahead.