10 Jul 2013

What I want my daughter to know about the mean girls

My tiny human, my gorgeous darling, my little one – you are a girl. You are our first girl and I will never stop celebrating it. You are a gorgeous, dimpled, delicious, just-two-year-old baby girl.

And my darling, there’s some stuff that comes with being a girl that I want to tell you about.


Most of it’s wonderful. We’ll have hours over late night coffee dates to talk about that. I’m already planning all the desserts I want to learn to make so we can linger over our plates and that kind of delicious conversation.

But sweetheart, there’s some other stuff that comes with girlhood too. Some stuff I’d rather you heard first from me. It’s stuff that isn’t as scary if we say it out loud and don’t let it sneak up on us.

My love, there will always be girls who are mean.

And you won’t outgrow it. There will always be mean girls. One day you’ll be thirty seven and reading the long line of stories that mean girls have left in their wake.

But daughter, that doesn’t mean we hide our hearts. That doesn’t mean we find a tower and Rapunzel ourselves away from the world.

No darling, it means that we learn to be braver than the mean girls. We out-love them. That is the secret weapon. To pour on the unexpected love. To meet them with open arms and mind, knowing that meanness is what bleeds from scars at their most raw.

Meanness is a symptom, not a condition.

And when they want to hurt you with their words, I will teach you how to hold up the shield of faith and firm belief that Jesus has declared you good and beloved. That you are precious and ransomed – His life for yours. There is nothing insignificant about you.

I will wrap my words, His promises and both our lives around you.


You were made to have friends, sweetheart. You were not made to be alone. This is a Jesus body we belong to and some days you’ll feel like the heart and soul and other days like just a bit of dried skin on the elbow and that’s OK.

It’s never a bad thing to be reminded that the whole world does not revolve around you.

But on the days when you feel like an outsider, on the days when your best friend stops talking to you, on the days when everyone gets invited to the sleepover and you don’t, on the days when you wonder if you fit in –

on those days, Zoe, I will remind you that love never quits.

Love always believes the best

And that sometimes the benefit of the doubt is the most precious gift we can give anyone.


I will treat your bruised heart with chocolate brownies, a tall glass of cold milk and The Princess Bride– yes, I’m certain it will still be my favorite movie even a decade from now.

And then I will send you back out into the fray, my love.

I will always send you back because friendship is worth fighting for. Women need one another. And if we give up at girlhood, what chance do we have during the minivan driving years?

Friendship is worth working hard at Zoe.


A year ago you stood up and walked for the first time. Since then you’ve fallen often. You fell at the pool this afternoon and have the bloodied knee and tear stains and my own sore heart to go with it. But you set determined hands to the floor, tilted forward, pushed back up again and took the next step.

Never stop getting back up again, darling.


It’s the only way to keep moving forward to all that life waiting for you.::

My book – Surprised by Motherhood – shares more of my mother-daughter story and you can order it right here.
Or download the first three chapters for free over here.



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1
    Kristen Rodriguez says:

    I don’t have daughters but I am thankful for the wisdom and encouragement of these words for me…. at age 39. Thank you. I needed to hear these words today.

  2. 2

    These words and truths are timely indeed. I pray for all the young (and not so) hearts out there tonight, who just like mine need to not just hear this once, but over and over. Thank you Lisa Jo :)

  3. 3
    Margaret Polino Nicholas says:

    What a wonderful blog! I always felt like you toward my girls. Grown now. But we do have coffee and cake together as we watch her children grow.

  4. 4

    Lovely, I am going to share this with many of my friends with daughters, including me!

  5. 5

    Someone dear to me was mean this morning. As always, your words are such an encouragement. It is true that meanness is a symptom, and it is so hard to think of it that way when someone you love deeply is mean to you. But when you think of it as a symptom, you can pray for Jesus to heal the condition that causes it. Because the more you focus on the meanness, the more less-than you feel. Only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin, and only Jesus can heal broken, wounded hearts. Thanks for this timely reminder.

  6. 6

    i wish someone had told me these words when i was younger. i pray that i can be that rock you are in these lines for my own almost 2 year old sweet daughter and may she see Jesus in my own friendships. love this! (i think our daughters would be great friends….you have to see a picture of Addie they look a little a like)

  7. 7

    This is probably my favorite post that you have written. You’ve gotten me all tear-eyed and runny nosed.

    “And then I will send you back out into the fray, my love.
    I will always send you back because friendship is worth fighting for. Women need one another. And if we give up at girlhood, what chance do we have during the minivan driving years?”

    Oh, my heart….
    Love you, Girl! and Zoe too!

  8. 8

    Oh every girl needs to here the today from 2 – 92. You bless friend. Truly.

  9. 9

    I loved this perspective – as a momma with a three year old dimpled beauty myself. I think the other important thing to impart to them is not to BE the mean girl. I just wrote about this issue b/c despite my girlfriend bringing up her daughter with a strong faith and love, she’s facing watching her develop some meanness in kindergarten. I think the best way we can guard against this is to make sure we’re modeling kindness to everyone – in fact it was your post on inclusivity that sparked this idea – http://www.gindivincent.com/2013/the-cheerleader-and-the-misfit/

  10. 10

    Great post! I will be reading this to my daughter!

  11. 11

    Lisa-Jo, you have so much insight and write it so well. I wish I’d known these things growing up. I just know that you are an AWESOME mom!!! And you & Pete must make a dynamite team!

  12. 12

    I am so moved by how much your love for Zoe shines through. You just made me cry! But in the best way. I started being fearful to look forward to life with my own precious daughter. She’s 7 years old and we are now 1 year on from a devastating brain tumour and cancer diagnosis. I am on the eve of another follow up MRI and though all the signs are good, I can’t help but go in to tomorrow feeling uneasy for the future, never mind years down the road in to teenage and adulthood. But thank you for the beautiful words and encouragement. It makes me want to shout my baby girl is doing great!!!!! And yes! Let’s look forward to learning the life lessons together right in to adulthood sweet daughter – even the ones that include the mean girls ;-)

  13. 13

    Oh sweet Mama… so much wisdom to impart on such a dimpled little beauty… and I just love how you pour it out for her here, so we all get drenched in it too! “…it means that we learn to be braver than the mean girls. We out-love them. That is the secret weapon. To pour on the unexpected love. To meet them with open arms and mind, knowing that meanness is what bleeds from scars at their most raw.
    Meanness is a symptom, not a condition.” This is SO good, my friend!

  14. 14

    How precious is your daughter and how wise your words! I wish I had those words those many years ago when my daughter needed them. She made it through with some mean girls and became a leader of teenage girls. She would have loved to have these words to share. After 21 years of living on earth, her home is in heaven. Your baby girl reminds me of my Jennifer when she was two.
    As a retired teacher of middle school I witnessed too many mean girls and bullies. Your approach is so powerful because it is God’s grace that makes it possible. Thank you, thank you.

  15. 15

    My daughter’s mean girl moment happened about this time last year, when she was 13. The mom was involved, too, which made it extra ugly. Then they moved out of state to get away from us. I don’t think either of us has gotten over it. I suspect it’s why my daughter hasn’t returned to church.

  16. 16

    This is so beautifully written … for our 3 granddaughters and for their mom as well. she is 37 and a single mom….. Thank you so much.

  17. 17

    I struggle with the thought of putting my girls in the world. I just want to keep them home and hold them. Thank you for this, Lisa Jo. Beautiful.

  18. 18
    giuliana says:

    my little girl of 10 is struggling with one mean girl who happens to be her bff. i so needed to read this tonight (from South Africa) as i was about to tell her to give up. your message has reminded me that i need her to learn Jesus’ ways and not man’s ways. i also rather like the minivan idea too. please pray for her. she is in a very small class and my girl and her friend are the only two girls there. she has such a soft heart but is tired of getting hurt. my heart aches for her… but thank you again for this beautiful message xx

  19. 19

    I have two daughters, one is four and one is two. I love how you write about helping them heal and then sending them back out because “friendship is worth fighting for”. Love the eloquent way you write for your daughter and the way that it has encouraged me to mother my own. :)

  20. 20

    This is beautifully written. It is something all of us women, young and old, need to hear. I am going to read this to my own daughter tonight at bedtime.

  21. 21

    Love, love, loved this. So true & so sweet. Brought tears to my eyes! :)

  22. 22
    Renee Dawso says:

    I showed this to my girl. Made us both cry. :)

  23. 23

    Just yes. Amen.

    I wish I’d had these words 20ish years ago for my own heart. I’m glad I have them now to share with my own little girl someday. Thank you, friend.

  24. 24

    This is so true. It seems to start younger than it did when I was growing up. My daughter and I have already dealt with the meanness this world can bring. I know there will be more to come. But, love and friendship is worth the risk. Through these experience we learn which friends we can count on and which were never a close friend after all. As long as there is love at home for our daughters to fall back upon, we will all make it just fine…

  25. 25
    Cherri Oakley says:

    Yes yes yes a thousand times ~{{{~YES~}}}~!
    I have a little daughter who is about to turn 1. You have put down so eloquently something that has been on my mind a lot this past week. I was thinking to myself “What do i tell this beautiful little girl about mean girls?” and like a blessing i found this. Thank you for sharing this! Brightest blessings from my family to yours!

  26. 26

    Beautiful write, Lisa Jo!

  27. 27

    This is a beautiful post with a great message. Although there’s one aspect that sticks out to me like a sore thumb. Multiple times in the is letter, the mother promises comfort and connection through food, “I will treat your bruised heart with chocolate brownies…” and “I’m already planning all the desserts I want to learn to make so we can linger over our plates and that kind of delicious conversation.” I’ve gotta say that this sort of association is a dangerous one. Girls should not learn to medicate and soothe their feelings or problems with food, let alone desserts and brownies. I’m definitely not implying that there is anything wrong with enjoying treats now and then. What I take issue with is the birth of a food/emotions habit that will emerge very quickly if a mother shows a daughter that every time she’s upset about something, or wants to connect on a deeper level, then dessert is part of of the solution. Women already have inherited a difficult legacy when it comes to food/body image and this kind of habit would really position a child for a lifetime of struggle with feeding her emotions.

  28. 28

    Thank you so much for posting this. I don’t gave daughters, but as a grown woman, I recently am dealing with this. These are words that I needed to hear to help heal my heart. The Lord tells us to love our neighbor and sometimes that is hard to do. Thank you again.

  29. 29

    Insightful words, but isn’t there a better way to help our daughters feel better about themselves that doesn’t involve stuffing face with high calorie, non nutritional foodstuffs?

  30. 30

    As a Mother of two girls, and a former bullied teen, I adore your post. Such true words, and ones I will share with my girls too.

  31. 31

    Really enjoyed this. As a mother of two girls, and former bullied teen, this is definitely something I’ll share with mine.

  32. 32

    This is a beautiful post, as always. The love that you so obviously have for your baby girl…it is beautiful. I wish that I could have had that with my mama. And I sure could have used these words years ago when the mean girls were after me. My answer was to withdraw and I’ve done so many times since then. I don’t know how to not hide while hurting, but I try to make sure my children know that they don’t have to hide their hurts from me. They can come to me, just as yours can to you. Though I know life is full of it, I hope for no more hurting for any of our babies.

    Zoe is beautiful. My favorite photo above is the second one down. So sweet!

  33. 33
    Kim Ballor says:

    This popped up in my facebook feed this morning, and it was perfect timing. It has been a bear of a week because I have two bullies at work who have been in fine form. Sad to say I am a grown up and this still happens. Your words were a sweet pep talk. Love that God knows exactly when and how to give me what I need. Thank you for being an obedient servant and giving an old baby a new view of the day!

  34. 34

    Beautifully written post! I have a 9 year old daughter, who has been dealing with some of the mean girls this year. It breaks my heart to see her hurt!

  35. 35

    This echos several of the things my parents told me when I was picked on in school. They were continually building me up. They did everything they could to help me see myself in God’s eyes, as well as the mean girls. I went through the same thing with my daughter, and was glad I could talk to her and help her through those trying times. Thank you for sharing this.

  36. 36
    Melanie says:

    I loved reading this – so much. It makes me wish that my own mom could have told me that – instead of the “stop whining already” I usually got no matter how much I hurt or how lonely I felt. (Any chance you’ll adopt me? ;) )
    THANK YOU! Thank you for writing this and thank you for giving me an idea HOW I can make it better for my own daughter. I knew I wanted to doo it differently than my own mom, but had not quite firured out yet, how.

  37. 37

    I only have boys and was unpleasantly surprised to find out that they often have to deal with the same issues. This is a beautiful reminder of how we are to reflect God’s love back to one another and comfort one another when things are difficult. Thank you for sharing!

  38. 38
    Teresa Lafferty says:

    Very beautiful, very true. Thank you for your wonderful words. They will impact many people.

    Love and Blessings,

  39. 39

    Thank you… It’s so hard to see your girls go through the same things I went through.. But I know that like me, they will only grow stronger and closer to God because of these trials.. Thank you again.. For sharing the hard truths..

  40. 40

    Love your blog!
    I would love for you to share and link up at my weekly TGIF Link Party if you haven’t already this week. Your favorite posts, most popular, recent or new! The party is open every Thursday night and closes Wednesday’s at midnight. Followed by (Not SO) Wordless Wednesday! http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/.

    I would be honored if you join us and follow to stay connected Have a wonderful week!

    Hugs, Cathy

  41. 41
    Christina says:

    I have a 4 year old boy and a 12 year old daughter(almost 13 now) and this hit me hard for both my precious children. I know boys are boys and you raise them to be big rough and tough, but when they are treated wrongly, get their feelings hurt and cry it hurts my heart just as bad. As for my big little girl she’s been through so much ….. she has learned that some of her best friends from elementary school choose different paths in middle school and that she had to be open to new friends. She has such a generous heart and gives so much of herself to others. She has been bullied and pushed around. It’s crazy hard to stand aside while your kiddos are being mistreated. BUT i whole heartedly agree with this letter. We try to teach our kids that there are mean people in the world and mostly they are that way because they are hurting too. Thanks for the words of wisdom!!!

  42. 42
    Library Momma says:

    Bravo Momma! I hope to pass similar words of wisdom to my own daughter whom is two as well.

  43. 43

    Thank YOU! I have four daughters the oldest will be 13 next month. We just started to get into the MEAN girls last year. My daughter jokes she will grow up alone with cats. I really appreciate this and it’s perfect to put into a letter for her.

    Thank you Thank you THANK YOU!

  44. 44
    Vanessa says:

    Wow, your words have left me in tears. I’m a mother of two little girls and at the moment struggling with how to teach my elder daughter how to deal with mean girls at school. Your words embody exactly what I wish to express to her. Thank you for sharing, you are a beautiful feminine soul and you’ve touched my heart.


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