The Short of It
As parents, we are hyper-vigilant about our kids being the victims of bullying by their peers. But it turns out children aren't the only bullies we need to worry about. Mean moms are also a threat to our kids, according to a new ABC News report.
The mean mom trend centers around what Lisa Barr, who writes the blog "GIRLilla Warfare: A Mom's Guide to Surviving the Suburban Jungle" calls "social engineering." Barr describes the phenomenon this way: "Everyone's heard of helicopter parenting, this is taking it one step further. It's social bullying, the desire to elevate their kids' social status at the expense of other kids."
So if a mother wants her child to be a part of a particular clique, she might disclude another child she perceives as uncool, without worrying how it impacts her. A particularly disturbing story Barr tells involves an 11-year-old girl who moved to a new town. A mom snuck on the school bus and actually roped off some rows in the back so a group of eight of her daughter's friends could sit together. The mother then told the new girl she couldn't sit there because the seats were reserved!
Barr also cites another common behavior that falls under the social engineering umbrella: handing out birthday invitations in front of kids who aren't included.
So what would compel a grown woman to act like a petulant child? Barr says it's insecurity that fuels this repugnant behavior; ultimately, the mom wants to fill a void in her life by ensuring her child is in the popular crowd. And kids who won't bolster her child's reputation, in the mother's opinion, fall victim to this cruel bullying.
Although a parenting expert named Stacy Kaiser, who was interviewed for the ABC News story, says it may not always be best to confront a mean mom if she is victimizing your child due to a chance of retribution, I'm not sure I could stop myself! But Kaiser advises, "Parents who act this way are usually insecure and often unhappy themselves. Don't let their misery rub off on you. Don't let them put you into a state where you were questioning yourself or your child." Agreed. But a grown woman has no business acting this way. Ugh. It's infuriating.