Sometimes the things your children say can just break your heart. When I was getting clothes out for the girls to wear to choir practice one Wednesday night, I pulled out a pair of jeans and a T-shirt for Joy. As I handed them to her she said, “Aw, I was hoping to wear something pretty.” I put the T-shirt back, pulled out a blouse instead, and asked if that was any better. Her eyes lit up as she bobbed her little head up and down. I didn’t really think too much about it, but as I was walking out of the room, she asked, “Mom, do you know why I want to wear pretty things?”
“Why?” I asked, expecting one of her little crazy answers.
“Because, (she named three girls) won’t play with me if I don’t look pretty.”
The mama tiger emotions arose in me. In fact, I was so mad I couldn’t even talk to her about it right then. The thought of my little girl only in second grade and already being treated differently at church based on what she wore just infuriated me. I had to preach to myself to calm down. (Do you ever preach to yourself?) Anyway, though it’s not right that children discriminate against one another, it is, I’m sure, very common. I had to remind myself of the way I, ahem, behaved when I was little. I also reminded myself that my children are not necessarily always little model citizens themselves!
I was able to talk to Joy later about how wrong it was for kids to treat other kids that way and how she could learn from the experience. Knowing how awful it feels, she should never be a part of treating other children differently based on the way they dress. It was also a good time to talk about choosing friends wisely. She was very sober as we talked about it. Still, from now on I will try to remember to pick out her pretty clothes!
Ugh, don’t you just wish all kids could be nice?!? Pierce came home last week and said that on the bus Sissy called him stupid. And I can’t even talk to Sissy to try to talk to her about how it’s not nice to say those things and try to fix it. Really frustrating. So I just had to talk to Pierce about how he’s not stupid and how it’s not right to call people names 🙁
Karen Greenberg says
It is so hard to hear when our children aren’t being treated the way we wish they would be. What’s even harder is when your own child is the one who is acting that way. My daughters got caught, by my husband, being really mean to another girl when they were playing outside last week. Boy was he ANGRY! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so hurt by actions of our children. They got lectures, then he made them sit down and write letters of apology. I think they got the point, and their letters did seem heartfelt. I just hope this was a one-time mistake and we caught it early and forever.
Oh my word. That is so sad that kids are this way so early on in life. Just another piece of proof that we don’t have to be taught to sin.
i think you handled that situation really well… my kids are not old enough for exclusion to bother them.. but with my boy being “different”, i’ve dealt with it from the parents of his fellow classmates already. smile, and stay polite, thats what i try to do. and invite them to our events, even if they dont come or the invite is not reciprocated. its so hard help young kids understand these things, but if we ingrain early on that God accepts them as His precious ones, they know they are valued no matter what. good job on your patience, Esther!!
🙁 Kids can be so mean to other kids. You have to wonder what kind of parents they have.
If we remember and are honest (as you were) we probably all remember times when we were mean as children. It hurts when we see our children being mean to others, and it really hurts when we see them discriminated against. Your experience in high school that you wrote about recently really taught you a lesson, and it probably made this incident hurt more. I’m not too worried about Joy. I’m sure she will hold her own against any bullies in the future, but I’m glad you had this chance to talk to her about it.
Grumpy Grateful Mom says
Oh, that’s such a hard thing! I faced a similar incident with both of my daughter last year. But I love how you handled it. I try to teach my daughter’s that too. Hopefully it’s sinking in a little. Now if I could just get them to be nice to each other.
lol Well I might wonder what kind of parents they have if they weren’t all friends of mine! They are all better parents than we are! I’m sure they could tell stories about my kids!
Cara R. says
That’s so sad! 🙁 It is true, though, that we can all relate to it on some level. I was generally a very shy, calm, compliant, tender-hearted little girl…and yet I can remember doing some mean things. And my kids are certainly NOT perfect either! My oldest definitely went through a mean phase after her first brother was born (there’s almost 5 years between them).
Been there, felt that… that mama tiger anger! I’m sure all of us moms have. It hurts to feel our kids hurt. (Us moms DO feel it!) But I think that as long as our kids have wise moms, like you, to help them work through the situation, they will always come out stronger for it. Good job!
My girlie’s been there before…no fun. Isn’t it sad how early that starts?
simply heidi says
Oh no. That just breaks my heart. The mean-girl stuff starts earlier and earlier doesn’t it?
One of the reasons I’d consider home-schooling, if my husband were up for it, would be just how young the cruelty seems to start now a days. But I guess I can’t keep them from it forever, as much as I’d like to.
What speaks to me the loudest about this post is that your daughter felt that she could come to you for support. When I was that age I did not have such a comfortable relationship with either parent. So good job Mom and Dad you’re doing something right!!
The exact same thing happened to me at church as a kid. There was a clique of girls in my Sunday School class and the kids’ choir who would very publicly exclude other girls based on how we were dressed or other things equally silly. And they all had good parents too!
I hate to use the cliche “kids will be kids” but unfortunately sometimes they will be. And we parents just have to teach them things the hard way, whether our children are on the giving or the receiving end of these things.
I have to preach to myself all the time! Sometimes I have to speak scripture to myself for months before it finally takes root in my heart!
It’s so sad that cliques happen at church, but they happen with adults as well as kids. You did a good job, mom!
I remember being mean as a kid too. Not a lot, because I was generally a “good girl,” but I guess everyone goes through it.
The truth is that kids can be incredibly mean and unbelievably wonderful – sometimes all in one day. And it doesn’t always matter if their parents are wonderful or not: all kids are growing, and learning what to do and what not to do.
I do see, however, that the kids who have thoughtful parents who invest time in teaching their children are more willing to accept direction about their behavior.
They do listen, and consider the wrongness of their actions, even if it wasn’t their mom or dad that gave them a lecture about their behavior.
I don’t think this is a “kid” problem. James addresses it in James 2…it is called the sin of partiality, and it is written to the people,adults included, in the church. Look closer, isn’t there the same sort of stuff going on among the adults? Don’t think for a minute that adults in the church don’t judge others based on what they wear to church. It happens! Just sayin 🙂
Thinking even more on this…I think you did a great job instructing your daughter, but wonder if you are addressing her motives for dressing a certain way. You are now laying out her “pretty clothes”…are you teaching her to conform to fit in? Is she more of a people pleaser who will cave into those so called friends in order to keep their friendship, gain their approval, feel accepted? Think about it…adults do the same thing, but in a far more clever way, usually with positive reinforcement to get their message across….that message is “Do as we do or we won’t accept you”. Food for thought 🙂
Hi Jill! Yes grown ups and even in churches do this–many times without even realizing it. I suppose I just didn’t expect it to start so young. No, I don’t see a problem with letting her wear her favorite clothes instead of say her VBS T-shirt on church nights. Frankly little girls with this mentality will probably find something else to use to exclude her next time. I’m certainly not going out to buy her a new wardrobe to appease her “friends.” Partly I feel bad for not noticing that she really rather dress nice where as her older sister would rather be comfortable. Of course we did and do talk about it.
Yeah, I guess thats the problem with our sin, it doesn’t kick in at a certain age…it is just there, we all start young :(… hence our need for a savior 🙂 I think you are doing a good job at learning who your kids are, how they are different and unique, what makes them tick, etc etc…and leading them to Christ and His righteousness 🙂
PS – I guess the reason why I questioned addressing the motive thing was because in the post you quoted your daughter
“Mom, do you know WHY I want to wear pretty things?”
“WHY?” I asked, expecting one of her little crazy answers.
“BECAUSE, (she named three girls) won’t play with me if I don’t look pretty.”
Now if your daughter is the kind of girl that leans towards the pretty over the casual t-shirt, then enough said. But if the reason she is wearing the pretty is for the reason she mentioned, then I would help her to see where she might be conforming to gain the approval of others. A pattern that even adults have a hard time breaking.
Alicia Washington says
You handled this situation lovely. Not only did you use this opportunity to teach a lesson about how not to treat others but you empowered her sense of being as a person not just by what she wears. We can turn a bad situation into a good thing by instilling good values and principles in our children.