How can we teach our daughters to be nice to other girls when moms aren’t nice to each other?

Yesterday my Brownie meeting went from “fun with sand art” to “sand art drama” in an hour’s time.  My troop of second grade girls are spunky, fun, sweet and smart.  A great group of girls.  But when one of the girls allegedly left early with an extra baby food jar of sand art that was someone else’s jar, what followed was not pretty.

I noticed some whispering.  Eye rolling.  Some “blah blah blah” and in return a knowing, “Well, she always blah blahs” Sighing.

In short, they were acting like a bunch of Real Housewives from Our Suburban Town in Massachusetts.

It was around pick up time and when I realized what was happening, I went to shut it down.  Some of the moms followed and we tried to use the time as a teaching moment.  “She didn’t do it on purpose.”  “What’s the whispering about?”  “What’s the big deal?” and so on.   We tried to teach them that it is not nice to talk about their classmates and friends behind their backs, that they should take the high road.  They should be nice.

I realized that it is pretty hard to teach something like to not be judgmental or gossip or talk behind someone’s back when you do it yourself.  I try really hard to not let my daughter hear my catty remarks but of course she hears me gabbing on the phone about how so and so skips her cafeteria volunteer slot to work out and how could she do that when she doesn’t work full time?  She sees me raise an eyebrow knowingly to my neighbor pointing out another mom’s mom jeans.

I am much nicer than I was when I was an insecure tween/middle schooler/high schooler/sorority girl/account coordinator, but that’s what getting close to 40 brings.  But I could still be a lot nicer and lead by example.  As Jill Zarin from Real Housewives from New York says (paraphrased) :  “Of course I talk behind people’s backs, it would be an uncivilized world if we just blurted out everything we thought.”

My little Brownies reminded me of something yesterday.  Take the high road.  Be a little nicer.  Especially because you don’t know who might be watching and learning from you.

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