How I Taught My Teen Daughter the Importance of Lifting Other Girls Up

My daughter had a crush on an older boy she really didn’t know well around homecoming time. He was flirting with her and she was smitten. Later, she found out he had a girlfriend and she quickly became disinterested.

“Why would he flirt with me if he had a girlfriend? Who would like someone like that?”

Oh, she is light years ahead of where I was at her age.

The conversation, which included a car full of her friends went on and I kept my mouth shut– the more I do this the more my daughter and her friends let me in on their lives. It doesn’t happen often and I will not take it for granted.

teen girls holding balloons
I try to keep my mouth shut and listen to my daughter and her friends. (Twenty20 @kpirela)

Lessons in Teen Girl Kindness

After about ten minutes of listening to how it all went down and how she told him to bug off, she  started telling us all how his girlfriend gives her dirty looks in the hall. My daughter returned those dirty looks. This was my moment– the one where my motherly and girl-power instincts were in conflict. My girl-power beast took over and I opened my mouth.

I explained the minute those two girls (who don’t even know each other) started giving each other the stink eye they were giving away all their power. And not to each other either.

They were giving their power to the one person who was making them both feel bad because he had a girlfriend and thought it was okay to flirt with another person, without regard to anyone’s feelings. I’m sure he felt really good about himself after finding out he was causing so much drama.

I want my daughter to stick up for herself and let people know that she is not a doormat. But, the thought of this girl giving her dirty looks makes me want to tell the girl to back off. My daughter doesn’t even know this person and here they are having a silent fight over some dude. Instead they should be pointing at him and realize that he is the one in the wrong. There’s nothing the two girls did to endorse his behavior.

“You don’t have to be best friends with her, “I said, “But take a look at how you two are treating each other and why.”

I also went on a tear about how if a love interest is making you fight for their love or attention, or making you feel insecure without doing anything to ease your concern, you need to run. Like, as fast as you can. But that’s a whole other essay.

To my surprise every girl in my car that evening had a light-bulb moment and agreed with me. I’m pretty sure they weren’t just blowing sunshine either, they were genuinely stunned that there was another way to look at the situation.

My daughter is 14. Needless to say, there is a lot of drama. While I don’t blow it off when she needs to discuss something I know something about my daughter and their friends: They want to be liked. They want to be included. They want to be lifted up.

But high school makes that really hard and a lot of girls use their indifference, meanness, or their silence to not stick up for each other.

Moms Should Model Strong Female Friendships

The only way we moms can help is to model what a strong female friendship looks like. It doesn’t have to be one where you talk and get together all the time, but our daughters need to observe us having healthy friendships sans gossip and judgment if we want them to have the same, and we all do.

I had to speak up and let my daughter know that her support would go a long way, even if it’s hard to put herself out there. I’ve told her time and again that a kind gesture like asking someone who is sitting alone to join her for lunch can stick with someone their entire life.

When I was in my 20s I worked for a recruiting firm and most of the women there felt that in order to be on top, they had to take others down. I have to be honest I took part because I thought that’s what I needed to do.

It was the most miserable time in my life, but I learned a lot. The most important lesson I learned was that if you use your energy to focus on doing your best, and encouraging others, you will be so much happier. and you will be more successful in life than you will be if you use your bandwidth to cut other people down.

Life is not a pizza– it doesn’t get cut into slices, eaten and disappear. There is enough happiness, love, money, and good times to go around.

I’m certainly not perfect and I don’t have all the answers for my daughter, but I do know this: Tearing another woman down is always going to lower YOU. And your female friends will get you through more crap than anyone else. They will be there when you get married, when your heart is broken, and when you zipper breaks on your prom dress while you are cutting a rug with your crush.

And you don’t want to mess with that.

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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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