M.J. asks from Port Republic, MD on September 24, 2008
Middle School Drama
My daughter is having a struggle with a friend. This one particular friend seems to seek attention thru gossiping. My daughter is middle school age (that is torture right there) She is a very attractive young woman so the boys gravitate to her. They all talk to her at lunch. She is very nice girl upholding her standards.
The other little girl we'll call her Hannah does things to deliberatlly start drama. For example she told a girl that my daugter liked a certain boy and the my daughter was flirting with him...So the girl attacked my daughter. She yelled at her, threatened her and then hit her, pushed her down jumped on her and tried to choke her. My daughter defended herself. Both were suspended.
Now that very same day after all the mediation and talks with principle and things seemed to be calmed down that same girl (Hannah) said to my daughter...."hey she said she's still going to fight you"....
We spoke with the vp and She knew this child (Hannah) by reputation. She said Oh yes she likes to create drama.
So my question to you mothers is this...do i talk to the mother? Because here is the rest of the story...I am "friends" with her mother. Sorta....We were friends in the beginning. But her little girl has created so much drama in my family's life that I just stopped allowing her in my home.
I have 6 children. 4 still at home one of whom is mildly autistic. That girl was playing with my daugther and demanding my austitic daugther leave the room...she didn't want to leave and it was her room too ...the girl started hitting her....I wasn't home at the time and was told about it later. She has not been allowed in my home since that time.
I don't want to offend the single mother who i know is struggleing but i do not want this child in my home nor around my family. How do i handle this situation?
I look forward to your imput.
C.D. answers from Washington DC on September 25, 2008
Ahhh, the middle school year. How much fun it is!! :o) We have a friend who's daughter acts in a very similar area. I am friends with the mother and she is a part of our "circle" of friends. The problems started in fifth grade between my daughter and her friend. it came to a head in seventh grade. My advice is to speak to the mother, explain that her daughters actions are harming your daughter and that it would be better to keep them apart. Your daughter needs to remember her other friends and they need to stick together against the other girl. That is what happened with my daughter. If the mother becomes offended, so be it. Do you really need to be friends with someone who accepts this type of behaviour from her daughter. Would you? Middle school is hard enough without having to worry about your friends betraying you. Keep the lines of communication open with your daughter and don't worry about the feelings of the other mother. In my opinion, you need to support your daughter 100% and give her the confidence to stand up to the other child. "Hannah" is a bully, pure and simple. There should be no tolerance for bullying. Good luck.
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L.R. answers from Washington DC on September 24, 2008
Hannah has assaulted one of your children-- in your own home!-- and caused another to be assaulted. Don't worry about "offending" the mother. Cut the family out of your family's life. You sound as if you almost want to help the mom, which is nice, but the first priority has to be keeping your daughter out of the drama. You might be able to direct the mom toward some resources like the school counselor if the mom seems overwhelmed, but this is the time to focus on your middle-schooler and not on the other mom.
If your daughter wants to remain friends with Hannah because she has to see Hannah at schoo, you need to have a calm and serious discussion with your daughter about how real friends do not cause this kind of drama; real friends do not gossip. Get the school counselor to back you up if needed, but don't drag Hannah into any talks. This is about your daughter moving forward without her along.
Then steer your daughter towards other activities that do not involve Hannah or others who are drama queens -- or who are violent. Get your child into supervised clubs or afterschool activities, Girl Scouts (she's not too old! Scouting goes through adulthood), church activities, dance or art classes, sports that aren't too competitive, etc. that give her new places to make real friends and keep her occupied so she doesn't pine for her so-called friend Hannah. Don't shove activities at her, and don't say "This is to help you not see Hannah anymore" because that could make her resentful. Present activities as great fun that you're willing to help her have, and match them to her interests. Good luck.
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D.K. answers from Washington DC on September 24, 2008
I would absolutely talk to the mother. It is not the school's place to impose moral guidelines on children (even though they try and consistently overstep their bounds in what approaches brainwashing - yes I am a homeschooler :) I understand your reluctance based on your initial friendship with the mother, but as you well know, your children and their welfare come first and one of our most important jobs as mothers is to eliminate such negative influences. That mother needs to talk to her girl about the far reaching effects of such gossip. It can get quite dangerous as you have seen for yourself with the attack on your daughter (I hope you pressed charges).
There are many ways to approach her gently about it, but firmly. Make it clear that you aren't out to "get" her daughter, your only concern is protecting your own daughter. Maybe say to her that you realize her daughter may be doing it without any knowledge of what the consequences might be for others, and maybe she's not actually being malicious she's just ignorant of the pain she is causing in her quest for some excitement, or in her childlike oblivion to other people's feelings. This gives her a way to save a little face and may make her less defensive while at the same time letting her know that her daughter's behavior is intolerable and needs to be corrected. Do make sure that she knows that your daughter was assaulted as a direct result of her daughter's rumor mongering, this not only drives home the seriousness of the situation, but it gives her a really good example to use with her daughter to illustrate the dangers of such social tinkering.
I would also let her know that you are bringing this to her first instead of using legal avenues because you believe that the girl didn't really mean any harm. (Maybe you believe she did, but this is a gentle way to get your point across.) There actually are legal actions open to you, including restraining orders, and formal charges (I can't remember the name of the charge right now, but I think it's something like slander, or defamation of character). This is a tactful way of saying, "I could be sueing you, but I'm going to give you a chance to correct the situation first." I am NOT a litigous person, but very often the knowledge that the other party HAS legal recourse will correct the offenders.
Well, that's all my boys gave me time for. Gotta go
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K.M. answers from Washington DC on September 25, 2008
Hello M.! First I feel compelled to say this but what does her being a single mom have to do with anything? I don't know if you meant it to come off like this, but it sounded like you feel the problem is b/c she's a single mom. If that is what you meant by it I would suggest when you talk to her, you make sure not to mention that. You might offend her and things may get worse. Middle School is very hard for children, I teach Middle School so I know where you are coming from! If you have a relationship with " Hannah's" mother I strongly suggest that you talk to her. Let her know that you've noticed a change in the friendship, and it's not for the better. Tell her about the situation, she may not know and probably doesn't approve of it. Be prepared and open to hear her side ( or Hannah's). I'm not saying your daughter started anything but be open to the possibilty that she may have. Just let her mother know that the friendship has gone sour and you and your daughter just want " Hannah" to leave her alone and not spread lies and rumors about her. Hopefully that will work. Good Luck.
D.J. answers from Washington DC on September 25, 2008
Greetings. I taught 7th and 8th grade middle school, and will be a MS mom in a few years. I have seen these kinds of things happen, w/girls especially. I would definitely talk to the girl's parents; maybe even have a meeting w/the principal or VP with the two girls. Also, does the school have Peer Mediation where the two girls can attempt to work out their issues. Sometimes that works--students can come out agreeing to disagree and being cordial to one another. My old school even had a program called Second Step where students can recognize their emotions and talk out what they are feeling instead of "acting out". Maybe "Hannah" is going through something at home or somewhere else and is using your daughter as a scapegoat. I bet if someone was gossiping about her, she would not like it and try to do something about it.
Well, I hope my suggestions help. Let me know how things turn out.
S.S. answers from Washington DC on September 26, 2008
M., first of all i am proud of you for being at home working the most important job in the world. i encourage you to stick it out.
i am a sub teacher in elementary schools in arbutus. kids can be sooooo nice and then turn around and be soooooo mean. i encourage you for your daughter to seek out other friends. maybe talk to the teacher. maybe even have a talk with hannah.
B.D. answers from Washington DC on September 25, 2008
I would definitly speak with the parent of the child u call "Hannah" & the childs parents who attacked your daughter & anyone else you think nesscary. This is very scary. Somnetimes when a child has this kind of behavior, unfortunitly it is learned ( toleralted) at home. Good Luck ...please,definitly get involved!!! I aggree with you that Id NEVER let that child in your home again! Esp. after hitting your other child. SOunds like your daughter needs some new friends :0)
D.G. answers from Washington DC on September 25, 2008
Pick up the book Queen Bees and Wanna Bees. It really does help refresh our memory of middle school girl politics and offers solutions