I am at once both blessed and cursed with a twelve year old daughter. It is a hard year. The girls are friends one moment, bitter enemies the next and back to being friends before I am even able to ask what’s at issue.

I’ve heard so many of the Moms with girls in her class repeat the same mantra, “Girls this age are so mean.” Does that make it okay and when and how mean does it have to be before it crosses our subjective “that’s unacceptable” threshold?

I was taught growing up that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. That it’s better to walk away, turn the other cheek. Studies are showing now that children need to be taught how to respond in a calm, unemotional, positive manner to negative communication (i.e. bullying).

But first, parents are going to need to rethink what they were taught and educate themselves.

Maryfrances Palmisano
Former social worker and juvenile/criminal defense attorney
Instructor at JK Lee Black Belt Academy in Milwaukee, WI
Mother of three children