There is movie called Mean Girls. Disclaimer: I’ve never seen the movie and have no intention of seeing it. I’m using it as an example of how real life can be handy to name stuff. It’s no secret that girls can be mean. While I don’t have boys, I have been around enough to know they share the same trait. Being mean and carrying grudges is not gender specific. Nor do many people grow out of it. Seems like the more you let children be mean, the meaner they get.
Recently, one of my daughters had two neighbor girls say some mean things to her. She had a choice about what to do and, not knowing any better, did a little mouthing of her own. She shared with me the situation and asked how she she should have handled it. I don’t have all the answers here, but this is what I shared with her.
First, many people stick their nose in where it doesn’t belong. Rule of thumb, if it doesn’t directly affect you or your opinion isn’t requested, then it’s not your business.
Second, many people don’t like people who are different than them. News flash! No two people on the planet are exactly the same. Life is much easier and fun if you look past the differences. If your friends have to be just like you, you will be a very lonely person.
Third, people who are catty are usually jealous. Most people react negatively to others who have something they wish they had. By degrading the other person, they make themselves feel superior. It’s a real complicated pyschological issue. If this is you, get help.
Finally, people who say mean things have been the target of people saying mean things. It’s a kick-the-cat syndrome. Dad has a bad day and comes home to yell at mom. Mom feels bad, so she fusses at the kid. The kid, having no one to blame, kicks the cat. Stop the madness!
I’ve also found that turning the tables on catty comments keeps the mood lighter and less tense. For instance, one of my friends, who is very freckled, tells people who comment about it that if freckles were dollars, she’d be rich. Everybody laughs and changes the subject.
Of course, some people are just plain ‘ole mean, and you can’t do anything about it but pray for them and measure your own responses with God’s grace. I have had my own share of unkind, okay mean, conversations, but I have learned something from many of them. By discussing my mistakes with my girls, I hope to curb the inherent mean streak in each of them and enable them to better handle confrontations with others.
I told my daughter that if she keeps these things in mind, she might be more understanding and able to respond more graciously when people say mean things. She can also judge her own intentions when dishing out opinions and comments which others may not appreciate.
How do you handle unkind comments?