October 01, 2008,
S.E. asks from Landenberg, PA on September 29, 2008
Snobbery? or Am I Being Too Sensitive?
My daughter belongs to a social group that is supposed to foster good self esteem and behaviors. But the girls are all well off. We are comfortable, but do not feel nor act well off. These girls are always getting into trends of buying and going places that either I don't like or can't afford. The worst of the kids (says overtly mean things) is the leader's child; and she does not correct this child who always seems to be trying to set up in groups and out groups. Guess where my dd keeps ending up? My daughter doesn't want to quit, she likes these girls and is trying to balance liking them and wanting to be like them with her own awareness that some of them are being mean to her..... Recently they outright lied to her and told her she couldn't go with them somewhere because she didn't live in the right place! I found out this was not at all true! How much should I interfere? should I just support dd while she works this through??
So What Happened?™
Thanks for the advice all! DD is 8 so I need to help some, and the leaders kid di some of this behaviors right in front of her mother so I know I cannot count on help there. I tried to put my dd in another group of the same sort but they were full. We spent some times talking about it and at this point dh ad I are working on letting d work it out. We spoke to her at length about how groups can have different characteristics based on the people that are in them and that perhaps another group or organization would be a better place for her to learn. I am frustrated though because I feel that this group IS supposed to be good for her and that she is being denied an important opportunity because of this clique. (It's not just one - she just the worst -it is several really and they are all supported by their parents in their attitude). I sent he word up the organizations chain of command in as gentle and politick way I could and will see what happens. Either dd decides to change groups, the organization finds another group for her or what.....
C.H. answers from Allentown on September 29, 2008
how old of child? can be a teaching lesson, show her all are equal no matter what.
You need to just teach right/wrong but otherwise she needs to learn and you need to just be there for her.
D.S. answers from Allentown on September 29, 2008
Sounds like bullying tactics to me.
Write the Massachusetts Medical Society for their tip card:
"Bullying--It's Not O.K. When Your Child is the victim, the Bully, or a Bystander
Hope this helps. D.
S.W. answers from Philadelphia on September 30, 2008
Your daughter coms first. Make sure she is not trying to bond with these "mean girls" because you want her too. Ask her if she truly wants to be freinds with these girls and let her know that she has an option and she should never feel subject to "mean girl" behavior.
Growing up is hard she'll learn quickly about who and what a true freind is.
J.I. answers from Pittsburgh on September 30, 2008
I also liked Faye's advice. I think we have to let our kids learn things, even if the process might be painful. If she makes the choice to separate from these girls, it truly makes her a stronger person. Totally keep an eye on the situation, make sure to talk to her about it, and if she wants out, let her out. There are always ways to respond to her to give her something to think about without coming right out and saying what you want to say .... when she complains about something they've done, tell her that you think that was awful, very mean, and you would be very upset is you were her, or you understand why she is upset, then ask her how she plans to handle it, and offer suggestions on how she could if she seems to want that. If anything seems to be getting out of hand, she becomes very withdrawn or her behavior changes drastically, I would be on the lookout for some bullying escalation, and would then consider stepping in.
And if you, as mom, don't like the activities that are being chosen, speak up. Your money is being spent here, you don't have to go along with that.
Girls can just be so mean.
C.C. answers from Philadelphia on October 01, 2008
I don't think your being oversensitive. Now is the time to teach children tolerance and the value of a dollar. If the group leader's daughter is the one who is causing most of the problem I would suggest that you speak to her because isn't this group supposed to be about building self esteem? If the leader will do nothing and gives you the kids will be kids theory then I would suggest trying to find something else for you daughter to become involved in. How bad is it affecting your daughter? If she can take it then I might, might consider letting her stay but the fact that they lied to her shows me that they don't care too much for her and maybe she cares more about them then they do her.
J.F. answers from Philadelphia on September 29, 2008
Are you talking about the Girl Scouts? I am a new leader with a Daisy troop in Newark. The leaders are supposed to know better. Not to mention the laws and promise we are supposed to be teaching the girls and following ourselves as leaders.
Sounds like a stuck up group! I would take my daughter out and place her somewhere else. This is a part of the reason I wanted to lead a troop instead of putting my child into someone elses, people and usually adults can be downright rude.
If you do place your child somewhere else I would find out who the council for your daughters leaders are and let them know what is going on.
B.H. answers from Philadelphia on September 30, 2008
The best thing to do would be to pull aside the leader and have a heart-to-heart. You don't have to disclose your personal situation, just give examples of what you have observed and the impact to the girls overall.
If you aren't comfortable with this and thisis a group that is part of a larger organization, I think you should consider documenting the negative events (you can leave out names, but include dates/times) and report the situation to the organization.
The final straw would be to pull your daughter out for a while and organize some fun activities with the girls who act favorably and whom your daughter enjoys spending time with.
If this organization is sanctioned or supported via a school, I would also suggest talking to the school councelor. They are in a position to handle these situations and will keep the source cofidential.
F.H. answers from Sharon on September 30, 2008
I think the best thing to do may be to help ease your daughter into the realization that this is not a healthy environment. If you force and push, it may make her cling to the group more.
Listen when she complains and is sad and instead of giving advice say, well what are you going to do about it? Ask her what effects she thinks her actions will have and let her go forward with her idea without criticizing her or giving advice. Wait till she asks you what you would do before you give advice.
Most children end up making the right choice in these situations if they are allowed to be listened to, comforted and encouraged to find their own solution to the problem. It also keeps lines of communication open as they don't feel like your going to attack their choices or the other people involved.
S.F. answers from Philadelphia on September 30, 2008
The age of your child makes a difference. When the children are younger (say 6,7, or 8 years old), it's best to intervene to help all the children involved become more sensitive teenagers down the road. I would call the parent(s) and explain what's happen and enlist the parent's help in this. Parents of kids at this age are often mortified when they find out their child is behaving in this way. By the way, often a younger child of a leader like this feels entitlement specifically because she is the leader's child. Then perhaps all of you could sit down and help the children talk it out. If you don't get a good response, then I would discuss with your child pulling her out from the group.
But my feeling from reading this is that your child is older. If your child is in middle school or high school, unfortunately this process of trying to find your niche is part of the age. I would listen to her issues and help her think them out. You might guide her in how she can talk to them to try to make it better. I would tell her sympathetically but clearly why you don't like the way they treat her, and that you think she deserves to be treated well. And stress that you hope she would never treat a child like that. You might also encourage her to cultivate other healthier friendships - ask her to invite someone from outside that group to do something fun together. As far as the shopping and going places part, that's a different issue. Don't cave to this group's pressure. If you don't like where they're going, don't let her go. Have talks with her about why you won't allow her to buy frivolous things, and then don't let her - especially in this economy. Those things are always in your control, and you should stick to your values.
It is so hard to be the mom in these instances. I can hear your outrage at these children's behavior. Try to focus on making your child evaluate what makes her truly happy (you can bet these kids don't make her happy.)
B.W. answers from Erie on September 30, 2008
This is tough. It's hard to know when to sit on the sidelines and when to jump in. If you can come up with some good questions, and a very low-key way to talk wiht the leader about what you perceive is going on, then do it. Remember when you do, that you are getting one side of the story, and it may be filtered by your daughter trying to be just like them, more than them requiring it of her. Call the leader to learn more, not to lambast her.
I was once married into a family who were very wealthy. I came from a single parent home, and we lived securely, but we didn't have any extras. This family never made me feel inferior. My "culture" was very different from theirs, but we found many areas of common ground and interests.
In addition, they didn't spend money needlessly. When I visted them, I was always amazed that some of the furniture was old and worn but not replaced. They didn't live the way I expected wealthy people to live. They didn't waste money. They invested money instead.
It sounds as if your daughter is working on becoming part of a group of girls who build their oneness by building a tight circle around each other, and counting whom they can leave out. It's hard to watch this happen, but you can't control your daughter's life, and whom she chooses to be friends.
My daughter is a freshman, and one of her friends left hte local high school to go to a private school this year. (My daughter also left, to attend a magnet school) I was talking with the other girl's mother this weekend, and she said her daughter was discovering that the kids at this private school were SO MUCH kinder than the friends she'd made in middle school. I was so pleased for her and for her mom, because this kid had chosen very snotty girls to befriend in her quest for popularity. now she's in a place where the values are different and she's finding that she can have friends with really nice kids.
I don't know how old your daughter is, but why don't you try to involve her in some other settings? My girls started ballet in middle school, which isn't the age most kids start dance, but it's given them lots of confidence and poise. The younger one added hip hop to her agenda, and doesn't even complain when every Monday she has gym class, plus 2 hours back to back of dancing. She's also getting better grades this year, even with the increased activity level.
Look for your child's interests and giftedness and try to find activities that bring those out. We can't BUILD self esteem in others. It is something they EARN by trying to do things and succeeding. I wouldn't yank her out of this group, but I would encourage her to widen her path a little. She might just find that if she gets involved in other things, swimming, fencing, karate, dance, art, whatever . . . that there are activities out there she absolutely LOVES, and that she might even find really wonderful people her own age doing them -- people who share her talent and encourage her. And THOSE are the friends you really want for your child.
We went to an "away" football game this last weekend. We were going to cheer on our band, because my daughter was in the high school marching band as an 8th grader, but the band didn't happen to come. So there we were. It was okay with the older daughter, who had friends on the home team. She left me right away. Then my younger daughter discovered she had friends there, too -- girls from her dance class. So she spent her time enjoying their company -- also on the home team sidelines. So there I sat, all alone, although I happen to enjoy football, so it was okay. I was there as chauffeur anyway. It was WONDERFUL, to realize that my girls had made friends in the course of their activities -- friends whom they could bump into and hang with when the friends they'd hoped to see weren't there. And they both had a really good time.
Your daughter will get there, too. But definately see if your budget can provide some other activities, that in the end might supplant this group's place in her life. It doesn't sound like a positive thing for her. :-)
B. answers from York on September 30, 2008
You are not being too sensitive. How awful that these young girls think that THEY earned that money and that mom's do nothing to stop it. I teach my kids that it is ignorance and rudeness and that we are to show them we are better than that. My daughter, who is 7, is gong through something similar only the reasons are because she is very thin and pretty and the other girls in the neighborhood we just moved into are chubby and boyish. I was so caught off gaurd at their meanness to my cute little girl. I actually asked Julia, my daughter what she wanted to do. She wants to be friends with them, but when the mean girls (2 of them) sent her home last time I exploded and went to the girls and told them that they needed to "give Julia a chance" and that I was watching them and now they play with her and all is well. I normally let them "duke it out" but they hurt her feelings one two many times. Maybe you can talk to the girls themselves. Good luck, these problems suck!
PS - I am not a big fan of getting adults involved in these situations, such as troop leader, or the mom's of these girls, because that is ususally where they learned these behaviors or parents get very defensive. I like to talk to the kids instead. I have done this many times with my son's friends and they still love me and come to my house all of the time.
S.V. answers from Philadelphia on September 30, 2008
I agree with Faye's approach, but think you should also find another organized group for your daughter to join. The group your daughter is in cannot be a positive experience for her.
If the group she is in now is the Girl Scouts, shame on the leader! And you should report the leader to the council.
However, if the group is not the Girl Scouts, I recommend you check around for a troop. Different leaders do different activities with the troops, but the message is basically the same. I don't want to sound like an advertisement for the Girl Scouts, but I can see a difference in girls who are part of a GS troop and those who aren't. And I mean girls from different areas and in different troops. Girls in GS troops seem to have more self-confidence and are empowered to do their best. My daughter just moved to a different troop as she moved up to cadettes, and was welcomed by everyone in the existing troop -- she never felt like an outsider.
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on September 29, 2008
Is it snobbery? Hmmmm... You know what they say "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...it's probably a DUCK!" LOL
Not sure how old your little girl is but I don't think I would want my child involved with those kinds of girls (or their clueless mothers, for that matter). It's hard to sit by and watch our kids go through this random determination of a social pecking order but you need to decide whether the benefits of this group outweigh the heartache it is causing. Your daughter has already learned a valuable lesson about snobs and nasty girls, why belabor the point? I'd look elsewhere for new "social groups" for her to join that value inclusion, diversity and respect.
A.W. answers from Philadelphia on September 30, 2008
Just be careful and watch the situation. When I was in the 6th grade I decided to stand up for myself to the one girl in our "group" of friends and the entire 6th grade class listened to her and everyone ignored me and told me I could not be friends with them (excpet for about 3 days later when I found 2 girls who would finally talk to me). I have never forgotten that experience and it really hurt when it happened and I didn't feel like I could tell my Mom, I felt all alone and none of the teachers stepped in either. You may want to consider pulling her from this group and finding another group before something like this happens to her. Maybe you could try a volunteer group that helps with cleaning up the neighborhood or visits the elderly. Not only will she help others but she'll feel good about it and I doubt kids in that kind of group would be mean.
A.J. answers from Williamsport on September 30, 2008
OK, Wow. I'm sure the irony does not escape you that the purpose of this group is to build self esteem, yet the kids are mean.
Also, if the leader of this self esteem group has a daughter who is saying mean things, she should absolutely be told so, since this would be the mom's fault that her daughter was ever led to believe that this was acceptable in any way. Obviously self esteem is built on being nice to people, which she isn't. It sounds more like a snobby club with a false name. At any rate, I know it wouldn't bode well to address the mom, and I hear what you are saying as far as you daughter liking the girls.
I don't know how old your daughter is, so if this answer isn't age appropriate, ignore it.
Figure out what your goal is in general and from this group. If it really is to build self esteem, I would replace it entirely with different activities for your daughter, such as things where she accomplishes things (gymnastics, raising animals, music, whatever), and mixes with nicer people. It doesn't have to be "called" a self esteem group. If she is proud of herself, being nice to others, and having fun with nice kids, as well as having a loving home, self esteem won't be an issue. Conversely, if she is subjected to bratty materialistic kids who try to leave her out, and she is the brunt of snobbery, that will not build self esteem.
IF, you just want her to be social, and if you think it is in her interest to be friends with these particular people, she isn't old enough to dictate who her friends are yet(I think? Is she like 7, or 13?), so you can remove her from the group if it isn't a good use of time. She will get plenty of other opportunities to learn how to handle bratty people. Trying to "fit in" with them is a bad dynamic.
Be sure you aren't trying to have "well off" friends on purpose (nothing wrong with having money-not all wealthy people are snobs), but if you are, then definitely let her stay in the group and suck it up as a life lesson, and don't attach the self esteem label to the clique. It's hard to teach her the "Be strong and love yourself" message when people are being mean. Trying to fit in with snotty girls causes someone to have to be snotty as well and mean to someone else to fit in. Not to mention the emphasis on buying things. I personally would get her out of there. But you could continue to let her build self esteem at other times with other people. Check with some churches for good activities where she could learn to give-it's also a good place to meet nice kids.
Also, real quick, only let her hear you complimenting people-don't say mean things about anyone, including those mean girls. When she is surrounded by positivity, it will stand out to her more when she hears people being mean, and she'll know they are at fault, and feel less vulnerable.
C.H. answers from Allentown on September 29, 2008
how old of child? can be a teaching lesson, show her all are equal no matter what.
Since I'm a single mom with 5 kids and have very little money and my 9 year old has all the kids with huge houses some mcmansions, but they all are friends.
You need to just teach right/wrong but otherwise she needs to learn and you need to just be there for her.
B.K. answers from Pittsburgh on September 30, 2008
Nope...I would pull her right out of that group and get her involved with a group of good kids! There is no excuse in the world and why on earth should your daughter have to balance where she lives vs where "they" live? Who on earth are "they" anyway? This is just the begining of racism...and it's not okay...and it doesn't matter how young or old your daughter is. She should be accepted for who she is...not the color of her skin, her zip code, the jeans she wears, the name on her shoes or what store she shops at. I would be stepping all in it! For a group that is "supposed to foster good self-esteem and behaviors" I'd say they are FAILING!!
D.N. answers from Pittsburgh on September 29, 2008
I wouldn't put up with it. They sound like complete snobs. Why does it matter where you live? People are supposed to like you for who you are and not what you have. If you daughter puts up with this then you are risking her self-esteem. I would tell her, that while some people judge others on material things, your family judges on character. Ask her what kind of things are important in friendships, people being nice no matter what you have, or people who only are nice if you have a lot of money? Tell her you want her to be a better person, and you don't want her around these girls. If she stays with them, then it is going to eat away at her, or she may choose to be just like them- uugghh! I would also talk to the leader and tell her that she is fostering the exact oppisite of what she is intending to do.
Surround her with good people and she will tend to follow in that direction.
Usually local youth groups have great programs, either through the YMCA or a church.
D.B. answers from Philadelphia on September 30, 2008
I would definitely pull her out of this group. It doesn't seeem like they are teaching them the things that you wanted your daugther to be taught in this group. It does seem like a group of "snobs" and you don't want their wrong way of thinking to rub off on your "nice" daughter. I have three girls and if it were me I would definitely find another group, class for my daughter to be involved in. You are right here to be concerned especially when you are trying to raise thoughtful, respectful kids in this day and age when so many kids (especially girls) can be so mean to each other and thoughtless.
J.L. answers from Philadelphia on September 30, 2008
I don't thnk you're being too sensitive - this is outright snobbery. There is a difference between building self-esteem and having a sense of entitlement. These girls feel entitled to act this way becasue of their (parents) place in life. Obviously thier parents fan this flame by letting them act this way. It is not right that they treat your daughter this way and she is going to learn that she needs more to be more than what she is - AND THAT ISN'T TRUE! I would pull her from that group and give the other parents a piece of my mind.
L.D. answers from Allentown on September 30, 2008
Hi S.! I cannot stand these types of behaviors and I feel like you and your daughter should stand up to them and find a new circle of friends. I have already been talking to my four year old about choosing his friends wisely and he understands this and thankfully has been picking friends at his preschool that are kind and that listen well. I tell him that although he has his good friends that he still should be nice to the other children but not to make "friends" with them. This may seem harsh but in a harsh world we have to teach our children from a young age to pick and choose their company wisely. Interfere strongly. Leah