I am raising a 13-year-old girl. (Applause please.) No, seriously, I am raising a 13-year-old daughter and the truth is I’ve done this twice before, so I know I will survive it, but this time around I seem to struggle more with this reality. The fact is 13-year-old girls are mean. Not all of the girls all of the time, but all of the girls some of the time, including my daughter and yours! The variable of this fact is that you never know which girl may be mean at which time. My daughter will come home from school one day and say, “Can so-and-so come over to spend the night?” And I have to respond, “Is she even speaking to you this week?” So, one minute, best friend, next minute, not speaking. And, from what I’m hearing, this is not just occurring in my home, but in homes of Junior High girls everywhere. I googled “mean girls” and got 1,760,000,000 results in only 1.7 seconds! So I’m certain it just isn’t my daughter or in my house!
This fall I’ve been wondering what I, as a concerned mom, can do about it. I decided that any time I had a captive audience (which means I’m driving teen girls somewhere) I would instill a message of kindness. So, the standard “lecture” goes like this: “Hey, welcome! You get to get a quick little lecture from me! Have you ever had someone not talking to you? (the answer is always yes!) How does that feel? (bad, obviously.) Then, for goodness sake, don’t do that to someone else! I am here to tell you that you should be kind. Just be kind. If everyone would just start acting kind no one would have to feel that way.” So in less than one minute, I can suggest that this teen be kind. I then, write the name of that person on a silk leaf, place it on the wall and add members to this elite group when I can. Currently there 12 girls who have officially been prompted to be kind.
But today, I wonder if I am missing something. I’ve been talking a lot about random acts of kindness and kindness in general, but being kind means to just be friendly, generous and considerate. All good qualities, but with these teen girls, I think we need to elevate it a bit and get them to become compassionate. Compassion is being sympathetic and showing concern for others. So, while kindness may make us do something for someone, compassion is a feeling. I want these girls to recognize how their actions make others feel. I think that alone will motivate them to be kinder.
It’s one thing to sit with a lonely person at lunch so that you can tell your mom that you did it later when she asks, but it’s another to really look at this lonely person and feel what she feels. To sit with someone that no one else is sitting with because you care about their feelings because you know what it would feel like if it were you. That’s what I want these girls to recognize.
So, I guess I will modify the “lecture” a bit and promote compassion over kindness, and I also think I will recognize for myself that this, too, will pass. In a few short years, these girls will have survived this awkward mean stage and will truly become who they were meant to be!
Be Kind & compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. — Ephesians 4:32
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. — Col 3:12
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one antoher, be compassionate and humble. –1 Peter 3:8