When I first found out I was having a daughter, I was overwhelmed with an array of emotions. Naturally, after having two boys, I had been planning on a third boy so shock was my first emotion. Joy filled my heart as my mind drifted to all things pink and girly. And then in the corner of my mind was this little lingering fear.
Kids are mean ― my son has had his fair share of issues, but girls can be downright nasty to each other. We live in a culture where girls compete, compare, and belittle anyone they want. With all that I am, I want to protect my sweet girl from this. We all seek to protect our children for as long as possible, but the truth is that at some point, our little ones are going to have to face some mean girls. When I remind myself of this, I know that I can either live in fear or seek to prepare her and keep an ongoing, open conversation.
My goal is to prepare her. While I know she will experience the trials of friendship, hopefully she can be a little prepared. At the end of the day, I know she is going to face hurt feelings and disappointment, but when I choose to teach and encourage her, I am not wallowing in fear or naively attempting to protect her forever.
1. Seek friends who encourage you and lift you up.
We all have had those friends who drag you down fast. Many times we do not realize it until we are out of the situation or away from it and can view it with a fresh set of eyes. We must always pay attention to who is influencing us.
2. Only speak good about others.
Girls and gossip tend to go hand in hand, don’t they? It can seem a hopeless battle, but as in all battles, it starts with one. I can teach my daughter to speak good about others and to seek friends who do the same. The thing about gossiping girls is that if they are speaking badly about others to you, you can be sure they are doing the same about the you to the next girl.
3. Friendships can change.
Just as with the seasons, friendships do change. Sometimes friends move away and sometimes you just naturally drift apart as you take on different paths and interests. It can be easy to fight this, get angry, or obsess about every detail. However, the best thing is to focus on being grateful for the season of friendship you had and then move forward.
4. Some friendships stand strong over the years, protect these!
While friendships can change, there are also those friends that last through every season. These friends are gifts from God. One of my closest friends is a girl who has lived in a different state for the past seven years, and yet she continues to be a constant and dear friend.
5. Be there for each other.
There will be storms and these storms are when true friends step in. Make an effort to be the one who will be the steady rock.
Raising a daughter can be scary in a world of mean girls but it can also be an exciting mission. With these lessons, we can instill good into our little ones and when the trouble starts to brew, we can lean in and listen. When we let go of the fear, we can see the opportunity we have to raise girls who will influence the world for good.
This article first appeared on Living In This Season.