Coping With Mean Girl Behavior: A Talk With Annie Fox, M.Ed.

Mean Girls. As upsetting and frustrating as they are, they seem to be a huge staple of development for girls. And, given the constant media attention given to bullying and cyberbullying, you’d think there’d be more advocacy for managing this type of behavior. For me, mean girl behavior is not just a phase – it’s something that we can definitely help our girls overcome. It’s also a behavior that we can take a stand against instead of justifying it as kids being kids.

In my talk with Annie Fox, M.Ed., author of Teaching Kids to Be Good People and The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, we discuss what cause mean girl behavior, how to recognize it in your child (whether they are the perpetrator or the victim), what to do to help our girls navigate the messy journey of friendship, and how gender roles can sometimes exacerbate this behavior. This is a longer blog than normal, but I think it’s definitely justifiable and worth it! 

Check out Annie’s website and learn more her mission to help “youth effectively manage their relationships and emotions so they can feel confident in who they are.”

No time to watch the video. Read the transcript below! 

Mercedes: Hi Annie, thank you so much for being on today. I really appreciate you being here.

Annie: Oh, it’s my pleasure Mercedes, thanks for inviting me.

Mercedes: Yes, so the topic of Mean Girl behavior is something that I know I hear a lot about and as an author of a book that talks about that I know you also get a lot of questions for it so. I really wanted to bring your expertise and your experience with that topic to all of my blog listeners and my blog readers so I’m really excited to be able to ask you some questions and getting to more depth about this.

Annie: Okay let’s go for it.

Mercedes: Let’s do it, so one of the questions I wanted to really ask you is what is… really what is Mean Girl behavior and how do we know it’s not just girls being girls… kids being kids and it’s in trident to that.

Annie: Okay first of all there’s nothing normal about being cruel, so it’s just girls being girls; kids being kids. I don’t buy it and let’s not go there. I’ve heard too many school administrators who when confronted my parents were sincerely concerned about behavior what’s going on in the school principals often just shrug and say “Oh it’s just girls being girls.” We are wired as a species for empathy. And so I don’t want anybody perpetuating the myth that cruelty is normal. It’s not.

Mercedes: I liked that you expressed that because I think that is a lot that I hear, where people say “Oh kids are just being kids, oh that’s just what they do.” So I really appreciate that perspective that no that is not kids being kids.

Annie: No it maybe our society teaching them how to be this way but it’s not normal and it needs to be corrected.

Mercedes: Yes, yes! So I ask then in that same vein why do you think that we are so okay with, then why do you think when it comes up, we say that’s what girls do and girls are just like that.

Annie: Maybe because we haven’t been given any effective tools for dealing with the problem and It’s clearly a problem any school administrator, any teacher can tell this is a problem, it takes up a lot of emotional real estate in classroom management and it impacts negatively kids’ ability to learn to even feel safe… to even feel good about going to school. It doesn’t feel student respect each other in your school and I’ve done surveys like and kids don’t necessarily feel that school is a place they want to go to because in some instances it is just so toxic and behavior is… well they say is what you permit you promote. And so I’m thinking that what’s going on here is is a blind eye. And I think that to answer your question that administrator shrug their shoulders and say that because they really don’t know how to deal with it.

Mercedes: That makes sense. So let’s go back a little bit then and talk about where does this originate, where does the mean girl behavior comes where do you think the girl drama originates from and where do you think it comes from.

Annie: It’s been around for a really time. You can… I don’t know when it was first documented, but I am really kind of interested in why it persists and why it gets more and more egregious the behavior that you read about today, people are consistently shocked by some of the things and if we will go back a generations you say oh my goodness I never would have said that to someone’s face. I never would have done to embarrass another girl. It’s kind of shocking and now it’s been normalized, so we have to think about it okay if there is some tendency amongst certain groups to see the others in the same group as competitors. And often with girls it has to do with who is most attractive. And so if we can target this girl over here either because she is lesser than us or we somehow fear that she is better than us in either case we justify our behavior. And part of it comes from the media. Let’s get on Mercedes.… pass for entertainment really give absolutely the wrong messages, those characters on sitcoms or on shows that kids watch. Reality shows …

Mercedes: Oh God, yeah.

Annie: And it is the character you love to hate and TV producers know that so they keep that character around we say gal I wouldn’t want to be like that person, but they are really kind of entertaining. I do a workshop call “Girl Friendship without the Drama workshops.”  and I’ve had girls at that opening slides that says the title, Girls Friendship workshop without the drama and they say you can’t have a friendship without drama. Wait a minute, where did you learn that, you absolutely can and you should strive for it. It doesn’t mean agreement with your friend every minute of every day. But drama means that a conflict is gone out of hand and it’s crossed the line.

Mercedes: Yes. I really like that piece that you were just talking about where I’ve heard so much about where does it come from and girls being able to see them the media. So one thing that came to my mind was the TV show America’s Next Top Model. that’s the basis of the show that these girls are competing against each other to be the prettiest and get the most gigs and things like. And girls love shows like that, girls love watching those things and on that same time, we don’t really know how to talk to them about the difference between it a competition shows and how do we react and act in real life.  We don’t always know how to talk about that.

Annie: Well it is interesting you bring that up because I think for many girls’ real life is a competition show. It’s like what I’m wearing, what my hair looks like. Am I thin enough, Am I cool enough, am I hot enough, am I smart enough. Well smart is usually not in there. It’s all superficial and it all has to do… it it’s not even used to be so much how guys were judging you or potential romantic partners were judging you. It’s really other girls are judging you and I’ve seen lots of evidence along these lines where girls would take selfies and post them to Snapchat and Instagram and what they’re craving is those positive comments from their girlfriends. And it’s like oh you’re so cute and pretty and there is a certain code to the language that they’re looking for and I have heard of girls who absolutely refuse to go to school the next day if they don’t have enough likes or enough of those kinds of comments. It’s pretty crazy. So the numbers game is a very real thing for 21st century tweens and teens. And as parents we really need to help them place all of this into perspective.

Mercedes: Yeah, and I think that you bring up a really important part that when I was growing up social media wasn’t part of it. either got judged when you went to school and people could see you but when you went home that was it, no one could see you anymore. But you brought up this really good idea that because of social media because of SnapChat and Instagram and Facebook and these things, I now can be judged even when I’m not in front of people. I can now be judged and put myself out there in even when I at home and do we help our girls learn how to deal with that and how do we help our girls know how to manage it.

Annie: And how do we help our girls to opt out of it. And it’s okay to decide no, I don’t want to post a selfie, it’s okay not to comment on some social garbage that someone is asking you to engage in. And they don’t have that self control as 11 or 14 year olds if they don’t have it and they’re not hearing a lot about even if that’s an option. And it’s an option not to respond to a text message. “Oh I didn’t know, ah, yeah.” It’s an option to find the exit in a friendship that feels toxic.

Mercedes: Oh that’s a good one. Can we talk a little bit about these option because I agree with you I think the kids that I deal with and I’m sure that the girls that you work with as well don’t realize it is an option, they don’t know how do I not get tangled up into that drama that is going on between this girlfriend and that girlfriend, how do I not comment when I’m being asked to or when the next day someone is going to say “hey you didn’t comment”, how do I do that?

Annie: Well, in this workshop that I do, I have the girls turn around and find the exit sign in the room that we are in.  You all know the E – X – I  –  T spells exit. I say do you know that there is an exit in every friendship? In every relationship. And it’s totally your right to find that exit when you want to leave. And they are like “Wow! really I can choose that? ” “Yes, sweetheart.” That’s real empowerment, that really is empowerment okay so let’s talk to girls about that, let’s talk to girls about standards for what it means to be a real friend, the kind of behavior that you want from other people and the kind of behavior you give to other people in your friendships, two-way street. Let’s make sure that they know that and to let them know that any time when you’re feeling uncomfortable for any reason find  the exit.

Mercedes: I love it.

Annie: Distance yourself from it, you have that right and you really don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Mercedes: I really love that and I think one piece of it that I really love is that idea of there is an exit, you can get out of that friendship. What I’ll ask then is how do how does a girl manage the repercussions that come from that so let’s…

Annie: I’ve done it; I’ve decided I don’t want to  sit with this group of girls during lunch anymore. All they do is gossip and they dump on people and  it makes me feel in genuine. There’s a part of me that’s smiling and laughing and a part of me inside my head that’s “Oh this is awful, why am I here?” So yes, be real with your daughter and say you have that option and please know none of those will happy with your choice and be prepared. Be prepared for some pushback, however, if you got at least one friend who supports you in your desire to go on a social garbage diet, then be with that person and  sweetheart if you’ve got nobody… it’s better to be on your own and you convince yourself that you have no choice.

Mercedes: I think that’s real interesting and one of the things that I really like and I share with some of my girls too is that you don’t always have to have girlfriends that are at your school, there are  so many different ways to find friends,  if you extracurricular activities like sports or you do art, or you do anything like that, you can definitely find those peer groups that don’t necessarily at school or dealing with the same peer groups that you are dealing with, do you agree with that?

Annie: Absolutely, if a girl says I have no friends at school and my school the options are very limited because it’s a small population, everyone’s really tight and if I don’t want to be with them I’m going to be alone. And I want girls to know that yes their community options, there are after school options. Once A girl has an experience of being in a friendship where  the friendship this is mutually supportive, then she doesn’t have to doubt anymore that she has what it takes to be a good friend.

Mercedes: Yes, I agree with you, I agree. So I want to talk a little bit about how do you know that it’s girl drama? How does a young lady know wow I’m in drama because sometime it starts and you are in the middle of it before you realize it and sometimes it starts and goes on for a while before the parents even realize it. So what signs are we looking for to know this has become past a friendship, this is now drama, this is now malicious attacks.

Annie: Well for girls and I get this question, how you know it’s mean behavior and I say, how does it makes you to be around it. I mean just do a gut check as we used to say. When I get a message from this friend, do I go “Oh I wonder what she wants now?” or it’s like “Oh yeah, I would love to communicate with her. So is your instinct to go toward this person or to move away from this person. And I think that’s at a basic level our feeling of comfort and safety around that person.  And for parents if your kid is not communicating with what going on, there are telltale signs that a friendship may have crossed the line into toxicity and those signs are what do you hear when these two girls are together. If they are in your home and you are the tone of the language between them. Or you hear your daughter talking about her person who used to be her best friend and  it’s starting to get really derogatory. Or those things that your daughter used to enjoy participating and all the sudden she’s going to “No, I don’t want to do that anymore.” And if open the conversation up, you might find out it’s because things on that team have co-opted by this one person who she doesn’t feel comfortable with.

Mercedes: Yes, yes and I think that is a really good sign and I really like what you said about how parent can know because I think sometimes parents are apprehensive to jump in to peer stuff, they don’t know should I jump in? Is it my choice to jump in? Do I ask?

Annie: I’m really glad you said this because I’m a great proponent of teens having respected boundaries. And parents as well, and so here is how it works, if notice that something is up between your daughter and her former BFF, just make a simple statement about what you observed after the friend is gone, in private respectfully calmly with your daughter or son if they are having this trouble. You say, you know when Emma is here with I noticed that your voice gets very loud and kind of aggressive. I also noticed that she doesn’t seem to listen to any of your ideas and you’re always seem to be doing things that she wants to do. What’s up with that? You as a parent just close your eyes, you made an observation and then you just say what’s up with that, rather than you know is she really your friend or I can’t stand that girl, why you with her? That kind of stuff instead you say this is what I’ve observed when you are together. What’s up with that and then close your mouth and listen.

Mercedes: And I am really a huge proponent of that curiosity about behavior not to assume that you know what’s going on and not to berate the other friend or accuse the other friend but opening up the door to curiosity. I am curious that when I see these things I’m curious about what’s going on there.

Annie: And it really sets your daughter as someone who is now going to begin to evaluate that friendship, she does have to defend her friend to you, because you haven’t attracted her friend. You made it very safe for her to go “Well actually, I do kind of raise my voice around her but she never listens,” and you go “Hmmm, well that’s interesting, do you have other friends who is a better listener, and how important it is to you to have a friend who listens.”

Mercedes: Right, I really like that, and again I think it empowers your daughter because you’re saying well can you think of other people, well you’re not telling her, well I like her better and maybe you should hang out with her, but you’re saying who else in your friendship circle, or who else have you hung out with that has these qualities of friend that you really like or you enjoy being around.

Annie: And talking about qualities, I am a big proponent also of making list. Have your daughter make a list of what she looking for in a real friend, what qualities do you admire? what’s important to you? what are your priorities in a friend? And simple just like fill in the blanks to this statement, a real friend is someone who and you just keep listing them until you run out of ideas. And then while you’ve got this list of ideas and qualities then you can say to your daughter. Ok let’s for fun take a look at the people that you call your friends, how would you rate them in terms of these qualities? And again you’re empowering her to think about this on a new level. This is how you help your children set standards for the kind of behavior that they want coming towards them. And then of course it’s not a very far leap to connect the dots and say how would your friends rate you on these qualities? And where do you need to do a better job?

Mercedes: I think that is really helpful and again, that idea of empowerment  is still there where they get to say this is what I’m seeing, this is what I’m thinking, these are the ideas that I’m having, without you telling them how to feel about these friends, without you listing all the qualities you think are a good friend. Really give that space to say… even if they never thought about it before, they can say “Uhh I never thought about what it means to have a good friend.”

Annie: And you can have a real interesting conversation and her come the role modeling part which is another thing for parents, it they want to change behavior in their kids, they really need to be mindful of their own behavior. When it comes to you and your friends. What are your priorities? What behavior do you expect and even demand of your friends and where do you cross the line, where do you say ok that’s it. No or are you somehow complicit in bad behavior from your friends where you get off the phone with a friend and your daughter hears you bad-mouthing that person. “Wow, mom I thought she was your friend.” or “Rrrrrrr like that”. So you got to walk the talk.

Mercedes: I agree with you a hundred percent and I think that sometimes where we figure out what do friends look like, we watch our parents, we watch the adults in our lives. And then we go out and we try to find examples of what we see in our lives, so I agree modelling is really huge on what we do when we are talking about friends.

Annie: Yeah, if you’re saying the modeling they are getting from watching TV is not positive modeling then you best have a good handle on you’re modeling in your life. Because you’re an influencer on your children

Mercedes: I agree. So I want to flip it a little bit to the other side  Of Mean Girl Behavior what are your ideas about when you find out that it’s your daughter is the leader of the behavior, she’s the one you find oh man maybe she’s the one who started the gossip ring or she’s the one that posted that really not appropriate picture, what do you do? What do parents do then?

Annie: Take some slow deep breaths and you say to your daughter, this is what I know and I want to hear from you, what’s going on. What you you likely to hear from your daughter Mercedes is list of… first denials. Well if you face her with the evidence, she can’t deny it, so. So okay yes I did that. Okay, what’s going on. Then what you would likely to hear is a whole lot of justifications from why she did it. I didn’t start it that’s typical. She did worst to me. She is mean, she is just weird, she deserved it. All of this stuff building, building and you just listen, you go ” Huh ha check, okay I heard that, yes, yes” and then finally. “And what did you do that wasn’t okay?” I started a rumor that I knew was a lie, just to bring somebody down. Okay, and what do you want to do to make amends? Because you know that’s not okay. She let her say, well I owe her an apology. Okay  I would be interested to hear how you would follow through on that sweetheart. Can we talk about this again tomorrow? How about some dinner? Over.

Mercedes: Nice, nice very clean. Very just like look this is what it is we are not going to argue, I’m going to accuse you or ground you or punish you, but really this idea of I understand and let me help you guide you through it, that’s what I really heard in that message, that you just shared.

Annie: Yeah, and because we want to help guide our daughters into being people that they can be proud of.

Mercedes: Yes, and I think also the idea too sometimes is what you said where girls are going back and forth and it’s hard to figure out who started it, when did it start.

Annie: It’s not important, none of it is important, what matters is you participated in it. And you knew that wasn’t okay, so now you need to make amends.

Mercedes: So this idea of taking responsibility so matter where it started or where it originated what was your part and how would you like to move forward.

Annie: Yeah, and there is another thing, because whatever emotion triggered that unacceptable behavior, you better believe that that emotion is going to come up again twice in your lifetime. The response you made to it this time is not acceptable. So that’s off the table. The next time you feel jealous or resentful or left out or hurt. What can you do instead? And again you’re giving your daughters some ideas to think about. Not saying you could do  this; you could do this. What could you have done instead that would make you feel prouder of who you are.

Mercedes: Right, right now let’s kind of play devil’s advocate a little bit, what if that conversation does come up and ask her  what happened, what was going on and she is completely… like it’s not my fault. I wouldn’t have done it if…

Annie: I hear that you say it wasn’t your fault and I see this post came from your account, you participated in something that wasn’t okay. And you can look at it in terms of how helpful or not helpful which is a model that I use in my girls’ friendship workshop. I actually have two glass jars. Two jars labelled helpful and not helpful. And I have a bunch of marbles and I talk to the girls let say for example, Mercedes, I hurt your feelings you called me on it and say sorry, so I say to the girls that was an apology was it helpful or not helpful. No I’ll say not helpful. So I put a marble in the not helpful jar. So every choice that you have to make moment to moment is an opportunity to be helpful or not helpful. And yes, they did worse and all these were actualization and justifications but I participated in it, I contributed to the social garbage. What I did was not helpful. And she can’t wiggle out of that. Yeah, you could just say to her was this helpful or not helpful. Judge your self.

Mercedes: And again it’s putting that responsibility back on her and her actions so it’s not you taking that responsibility from her and telling her what is was. It is this idea of okay let’s go back to you what do you think you did? Was it helpful? What do you think you would do?

Annie: And what can you do next time when feel that very, very strong negative feeling that you want to get back at someone.

Mercedes: And I think that’s a really important piece because we do have negative feelings that come. We have jealousy, anger, resentment and they come up over and over again.

Annie: Yeah, this is called growing up. This is called being an adult. Managing your distressing emotions in ways that no one gets hurt.

Mercedes: Yes, and that’s the key I think, and it’s hard when you’re dealing with so many friends, if you have a group of friend and everyone is kind of taking turns at being the angry one or mad one or the resentful one or the jealous one. Especially in that age we are growing and developing and it can really spin out of control if we are not being mindful, like you’re sharing.

Annie: Yeah especially because of social media, they never get a chance to unplug from it often they are plugged in 24/7. So when you’re plugged in 24/7 and you don’t have time to calm down and regroup and relax and be with your family and have different priorities you can really lose your perspective very quickly and hey you are only 12 years old to begin with. So we are asking an awful lot for them to stay plugged in as much as they are and to manage a responsible digital citizen. It’s a near impossibility.

Mercedes: I agree, I agree and it is something that I talk a lot about with my parents too that we as adults also have to model because I know again we use our devices are we are plugged in for our work and things like that, but we always have to learn when to disconnect to show them you can do that too.

Annie: Form a new family tradition whatever… the end of the week, Friday evenings, Sunday afternoon whatever it is we are unplugging as a family and it’s not a punishment. Your kids may push back because they think  why what did I do? Why are you taking away my phone?  But family time ought to be there is something positive and creative and really fun that you can’t get when you’re plugged in with your friends and if you do it right, your kids will go “Can we do that again?” That was really fun that was like “Wow, it was like taking a mini vacation from all the drama.

Mercedes: Right and I think we can all use that not just our kids, we could all use that.

Annie: We do, we need it as a family, we need it as much as our kids do.

Mercedes: Agreed, I agree and you mentioned age quite a bit when we are talking and so I want to talk a little bit about too some of the developmental ideas that come up as a result of girl drama, so girls begin to develop, they begin to have different… they all… we  have late bloomers, early bloomers, things like that… that factor into girl drama.

Annie: Now that is a great question, it is a really great question because we know for tweens, anything that makes you different, makes you vulnerable to the herd… the rest of the group is going to find something because conformity in girl world is a way to be strong. It’s totally a misguided message but that’s what it is so if you are a 12-year-old you haven’t got her period yet, or if you an 11-year-old who has breasts and look very womanly. Either of these two extremes can target you and it can be very, very difficult. This kind of body shaming is rampant among girls. I think girls are crueler to each other in this ways, than boys are.

Mercedes: Agreed.

Annie: This is sexism as well, is girl on girl sexism. And so when we talk about this it’s again it behooves parents and educators and coaches and anyone who works with kids to… when we talk about acceptance in terms of diversity of culture. But acceptance of diversity of body image and body type. These really need to be two parts of the conversations as well. Because it is so much hurt.

Mercedes: And I think you mention something that’s really true that with boys it’s harder for us to know when boys are going through puberty because their happen a lot internal but girls it is very external… you can see a young lady actually starts to develop breasts, you know when she is on her period because she has to deal with those things, so these are all things that are very external and everyone is opened to judge about them.

Annie: So another thing that I think is really important is  the way girls can support each and I call it social courage, if everybody is making fun of that girl because she doesn’t yet have her period. Or this one over there because she wears a size ‘D’ bra and she’s only in the sixth grade… how do you help your daughter be the leader, the courageous one. Who say hey leave her alone, we shouldn’t be doing this. Enough. And for your daughter stand up and befriend that girl who is being ostracized yes.

Mercedes: Agreed. And I think also it goes in terms of how we talk to our young ladies about their sexual development, I think our fears and our misconceptions about it also fuel what girls do when they are together or what girls:

Annie: Oh yes, what’s really interesting do you see what’s on the wall behind me?

Mercedes: I do

Annie: Okay these are colored index cards that I use to structure my teen novel, which I just finished this week. And the protagonist in this novel is a 13-year old girl who developed physically very early and as a result of that all kinds of rumors and lies and innuendos about her and her sexuality. Very, very cruel, cruel stuff and that’s quite common. The assumption is you developed breasts; boys start noticing you; other girls get jealous of that; and so they start slut-shaming you and doing all the stuff when it has nothing to do with the reality of your life.

Mercedes: Yes, totally true, totally true. I can’t wait for that to come out, I would definitely share that with people, because I think it is something that happens quite a bit to young ladies as they go through their various levels of development. That because their bodies look a certain way or doesn’t look a certain way, it must mean something about their sexuality or their demureness.

Annie: And that brings us also to what is beautiful, what is perfect in terms of hair, body type, butt size, height all this stuff. So  girls what are they doing, they are consuming a lot of media images, when they look at those images they end up feeling less than. I’m not “blank” enough and if that’s not bad enough they get more of it from their own friends. This is the antistatic of girls supporting girls. And we really need to be talking to girls about this and making it clear to them this is bullying also those negative thoughts inside your head, that is self-bullying. So let’s talk about that and end it when you get kind of caught in this endless loop of negative self-talk you have really beaten yourself up. Don’t do that.

Mercedes: I agree and I feel on that level, I really want to take what you just talked about and that self-talk that negative self-talk… because sometimes this level of girl drama brings girls to do very drastic things to themselves whether it is self-harming, whether it be developing bulimia, anorexia or some girls have committed suicide as a result of this type of girl drama. So what do you have to share about that and how we can help our girls?

Annie: I think that women need to model true strength and self confidence and in any opportunity that we have to mentor girls, do that, to show them what real women look and how real women support each other and that will part of the mix inside of her head as she is looking at these others models of what it means to be a woman. And for moms to make sure again comes back to what we were talking about role modeling a healthy friendship.  Role model a healthy relationship with your own body and a healthy relationship with food.  And encourage your daughter to maybe lay off some of those media images that are making her feel bad.

Mercedes: Yes, I agree and I really appreciate what you said too about us as mothers or as women in the community to really watch how we talk about other women too. We sit and we watch TV shows that judge women on the red carpet or judge women…

Annie: Oh my goodness I’m so guilty of that

Mercedes: Yeah, you know, right again while it maybe entertainment and fun for us as women. Sometimes girls watch that and they watch us do it and okay how do if fit into those.

Annie: Yes, and also that you’re modeling it is okay to tear down other women. And while we are at it, let’s talk about the role  of dad here.

Mercedes: Yes, yes agreed, agreed.

Annie: Please dads, grandpas, uncles you’ve got a young woman in your life who looks up to you how about giving her a sense that you appreciate her for all the wonderful thing she is aside from you’re so pretty, you’re so cute. We are so much more than that. And when you give girls messages when men who have… or positive role models in the lives of girls give them messages that they are valued for something other than their appearance well that goes such a long way.

Mercedes: You are so right, you are so right I think it is something that… men don’t always have skills or they don’t have tools to deal with it either, they don’t know how to compliment the young women in their life, their daughter, their niece, their granddaughter. They don’t know how to say  I’m really proud of you for your school or for your sport. They don’t how to say some of those things.

Annie: Good job, I loved the way you helped your brother with his math homework, the way to go.  And moms if you are in relationships guys who are not doing what we are just talking about – educate them and don’t  let them talk to you in a way  that your daughter hears this in anyway demeaning or just focused on your looks

Mercedes: I totally agree with that. Again it’s hard to do because men tend to think well you are the woman, you’ll tell her everything, you’ll be there, I don’t really have to be there

Annie: Yes, you do. You know often when I get emails from girls who are choosing to find their self-worth and sexual promiscuity, a little light goes off in my head and  I go where is this girl’s dad? Where is their [sum[00:35:05.16] role model in her life. A male who values her because she is looking for love in all the wrong places, it is so classic and when I say, is your dad in the picture. And I… and I go oh no. Is there anybody, is there anybody that… an uncle, a grandpa, the nice guy who lives next door who is trusting and trustworthy that you can the coach… somebody that you get some validation for.

Mercedes: And it is not always prevalent for them, so you are right they go out there looking for it in really unhealthy way.

Annie: And so they look at music videos of pop stars and they are doing all kinds of like Whoa! you see they have a whole in their hearts, these girls are saying I need a dad figure here to make me feel like I’m loved and appreciated, not sexualized but loved and appreciated. And when I can’t find it and I look at these videos of Miley Cyrus or whoever, it’s like oh that’s how I get male’s attention. No

Mercedes: No, No, No not at all.

Annie: It’s kind of sad isn’t it?

Mercedes: It is, it is and I think it sad because again men aren’t always taught how to be that role model or how to do it in a healthy way.

Annie: Because maybe they didn’t have that, but if women start having a sense of what they need and what their daughter’s need from the men in their life then don’t be shy, educate that man.

Mercedes: I agree, I agree. I want to ask a couple more questions because I know we can talk about this forever but what I was really thinking about was when we go back to the idea of girl drama and how to deal with it. What suggestions or tips do you have for parents who have to engage with other parents and maybe the other parents  you can start to tell maybe I understand where their daughter is coming from the whole drama thing. You are trying to engage with them on a parental level to deal with that.

Annie: You know Rosalind Wiseman wrote this classic book in 2002 called Queen Bees and Wanabes.  It was actually turned into a featured film called “Mean Girls” everybody knows the movie but it is a non-fiction book was actually the source of this feature film. And Rosalind Wiseman has been very, very wise and followed it up with another book called “Queen Bee Moms and King Pin Dads”

Mercedes: Okay I need to look that up.

Annie: You should.

Mercedes: Yes,

Annie: And it’s really about how to deal with socially aggressive moms  in your life, which are often the mothers of your daughter socially aggressive friends.  And then I go back to what you can and what you can’t control

Mercedes: You can’t control anyone else behavior, you also can’t really dictate to your daughter who is in school from 9 to 3… I don’t want you talking to that girl, she’s not your friend. You can’t do that. What you can do is you can make a case for why this friend is not welcome in your home, you certainly have that right to do that. Don’t expect though that you are going to be able to turn around a parenting model in someone else’s family. No, you also should never demean someone else’s parenting style in front of your daughter. My mom hates your mom.

Mercedes: That’s in the not helpful zone.

Annie: But what you can do is give your daughter a clear idea of just an observation this why Jeanie is not welcome in our home anymore. You can make your own choices about spending time with her in school etc. But this is why she is not welcome in our home anymore. And that’s all it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

Mercedes: Yeah I really like that, I really like that all the answers and all the suggestions are really about taking responsibly for what we can do and what we can’t do and really understanding and honoring that.

Annie: Well isn’t that interesting: you got a smart mouth kid who is a friend of your daughter coming in and she is rude to you and all the stuff, show your own sense of power by saying I’m putting a boundary here, this is my home.

Mercedes: Yes, yes, I really like that.  So Annie I really want you to talk too how people can get in contact with you, your books, your products and things like that  because I think it is a topic that many families deal with and sometimes they are at a loss of how to help their daughter and help guide them.

Annie: Well I don’t claim to have all the answers, but it you go to, you can pretty much find just about anything that I do including my family confidential podcasts and which you are coming up an episode of that which I love talking to people who have interesting and powerful perspective on how we can all help each other in this 21st century parenting journey that we are all in. My books are there, my blogs there and you can email me at any time and I get emails from parents as well as teens and tweens. Yeah, I’m here for you

Mercedes: Nice and is there any one of your books that feel like is really like it really hits on this particular topic really well.

Annie: Well I got a book for parents that hits on this topic called Teaching Kids To Be Good People.

Mercedes: Nice, yes quite a fit title.

Annie: The one for girls is also … it’ called The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship. 50 ways to fit a friendship without the drama.

Mercedes: I love it, I love it.  Well thank you so much Annie for taking the time out to talk to us about this and to share with my listeners how to deal with girl drama and how to help their daughter become a really great young lady.

Annie: Thank you so much for this opportunity Mercedes. I appreciate it.

Mercedes: Thanks.

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