For Girls

Dump the Drama: How to Survive Girl Politics in a Mean Girl World

by Beth Bryant

We all need somebody to lean on…..at least—that’s what the song says. And for the most part, it’s true. We need friendships with other girls to help us navigate the stormy and sometimes epically disastrous waters of middle and high school. But making friends and maintaining those friendships can be hard! Dealing with people who mistreat you or act like you don’t even exist is harder. What’s a God’s Girl do??

First of all, be kind to everyone (even people you might not like!)

Do you ever feel belittled, gossiped about, unaccepted, isolated, or maybe even targeted by other girls? You are not alone. Studies show that teen girls are twice as likely as guys to suffer from anxiety and depression, and drama and girl politics can certainly have a heavy hand in that. In Luke 6:27, Jesus commands us to “Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you.” Simply loving people who are mean to you might not make that mean person act better, but you will be in the right.

Even Paul seemed to understand how crazy girl world can be. In Galatians, he wrote, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Sometimes it seems like girls are all biting and devouring one another! It’s not easy to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us or even victimize us—but it’s an important part of being God’s girl—doing the complete opposite of what we might feel like doing.

Loving your neighbors and enemies means praying for those who mistreat you. Why? Because God commands us to, and He has our best interest at heart. When His girls have different reactions than other girls would, people start to pay attention. And when you reflect Jesus, they see Him in you.

You don’t only have to spend time with people who are exactly like you.

When it comes to building friendships, it’s important to understand that the best ones take plenty of time to develop. We tend to gravitate toward people who are like us, whether we like the same hobbies, share personality traits and preferences, or have similar life situations. That’s not a bad place to start!

But you should also be willing to get to know and accept people who are different from you. If you only spend time with friends who are exactly like you, you could inadvertently end up in a clique or exclude girls who could turn out to be wonderful friends! Spending time with lots of different people is a great way to help others feel included and a good way to learn more about the world around you!

Be on guard against your own “mean girl” tendencies. Deep down inside, do you sometimes feel so insecure that putting someone else down seems like it will make you feel better? Sometimes we trivialize other girls’ successes because they make us feel like a failure. Or we are tempted to use deception or other manipulative tactics to try to get what we want. When your inner Regina George starts to come out, take note! Make a point to choose Christ-like attitudes and behaviors instead. Just because everyone else is sucked into the drama, gossip, jealousy, and cliques, doesn’t mean you have to be.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

Lastly, God’s girls also need to know that no person deserves to carry the weight of making you feel valuable or worthy. Sure, it would be nice if the cool girls at school would notice you. Sure, it would be great if your BFF was always completely and totally reliable. But people are just people—messed up and sometimes hurtful even when they have good intentions. It’s who we are. Only having a right relationship with God—one where we know we are His: redeemed, loved, with a future full of His GOOD plans—can provide us with everything we really need. Only God will ever truly “get” us. He designed us this way so we would seek Him first and know Him better.

Some Practical Tips for Surviving Girl Politics

  1. Avoid settling into a clique. Switch up your friend groups and sit with different people at lunch when you can (maybe even that girl who sits by herself a lot??).
  2. Build up other girls. God knows we all need the support, so be the one to write encouraging notes, share compliments freely, and look for ways to make other girls feel special.
  3. Change the subject. If someone’s not around and they’re being spoken about negatively, pick a new topic, walk away, or remind others that they can talk to that person directly if there is an issue.
  4. Apologize to other girls you might have treated badly. It’s always God’s will for you to make things right. Not clearing things up can also affect your relationship with Him. (Matthew 5:23-24)
  5. If someone you know is a target of bullying, take action by telling an adult you trust. It may seem like the opposite of what you want to do, but things can escalate out of hand quickly. A trusted adult can help you come up with a management plan or notify those who can step into the situation.
  6. Keep your focus outside your circle. Pray for missionaries, volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry, serve at your church, or find other ways to reach out to others in compassion.
  7. Use social media responsibly. Don’t type anything on a screen you wouldn’t say to the person you’re typing it about.
  8. Get help if you need it. Be on alert for signs of anxiety or depression in yourself that might be caused by friend/frenemy drama such as…. suicidal thoughts, not being able to sleep, sleeping too much, isolating yourself from friends or family, struggling to control emotions, lack of appetite, over-eating, etc…… These are serious concerns and a licensed counselor might be needed to help you process what you’re going through. Be honest with the adults in your life about what you’re dealing with.
For Adults

My Kid Can Do What On Her Phone??

by Sarah Sargent

Would you ever drop your teenage daughter off in a foreign city you know nothing about, and expect her to navigate her way home—safely—alone?

Of course not!

However, we often do that every day. Even if you’re not familiar with much more on the Internet beyond Facebook and Yahoo, your kids are familiar with a lot more. You may know little to nothing about what your daughter browses on the Internet or what she does on the apps she downloads on her smartphone. Yet you expect she will make all the right choices, possibly without any guidance. You know how corrupt our world can be, and the online world is no different. Don’t leave your daughter unexposed. Take a look at these parental control software and apps to protect your children while they are online.

uKnowKids

uKnowKids is a service that helps parents monitor their kids’ digital activities, including social media, texting, call & FaceTime monitoring, photos, and app usage.

Comparitech, a site that researches and compares tech products, recommended uKnowKids, saying its “ability to reach into every single aspect of a social media account is unheard of among any of its competitors, and so from that standpoint we’d have to give it a 10/10 with extra flourish on top.”

Pros

  • Exceptionally designed web dashboard
  • Simple setup procedure
  • Extensive social network monitoring features
  • The only iOS app with complete monitoring
  • 7-day free trial

Cons

  • No web filtering options
  • No internet blocking
  • Support options are limited

Qustodio

Qustodio is a parental control app that allows you to set limits, block certain sites, and monitor activity on your child’s phone. PCMag notes that parental control tools need to be able to work on mobile devices, which Qustodio does.

Pros

  • Location tracking
  • Schedule internet, device, and app usage
    Supports secure browsing

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Social monitoring only tracks Facebook
  • Some iOS limitations

My personal recommendation is to use these two software options simultaneously. uKnowKids is better for monitoring social media, but that’s not the only danger available to your children, and Qustodio is a great option for filtering websites. Neither of these options are cheap–but if you are financially able to utilize these resources, they will be well worth it.

Internet and technology are part of our everyday lives. But please understand that as useful as technology is, it can still be dangerous. If you have decided to allow your child access to the Internet or to have a smartphone, please know that this decision can have both lifelong and eternal repercussions.

Talk frequently with your kids about how they are using technology and their phones. What apps are their favorite? What sites are their friends on? What’s the newest game kids are playing on their phones? Actually listen to what they say during these discussions.

Then, do your research. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask Google it! Like “the sex talk,” this shouldn’t be a one time conversation. Make tech talks with your kids a regular topics of your conversations at home.

Our companion blog post, written specifically for your daughter, contains information about the ways your smartphone can track and store data about her photos, browsing habits, and more. Read and share the blog post here.

My last tip for you is to seek a Christian perspective on all things related to your tween or teen child’s culture. Stay in the loop on trends, apps, and the latest topics your teen might come home with. I highly recommend the Axis weekly e-newsletter, which offers a current list of trends and changes in teen culture each week. From the music video your daughter’s friend just showed her last night, to the app all the kids at school are downloading, stay on top of trends so you can be prepared to deal with potential issues.

Conversation Starters

With all of these apps and software options, don’t forget that it’s also incredibly important to talk to your daughter. Don’t hide her away in her room under lock and key just because the world is a dangerous place. Start conversations with your kids to help them learn how to navigate the digital world they live in.

  • Would Jesus follow you on Instagram?
  • Have you ever experienced Cyberbullying? (And if you haven’t, has any of your friends?)
  • Have you read the Shine! girl’s tech blog? Have you made sure to off those settings on your devices?

For additional software options to monitor screens and block and filter websites, check out this list of PC Magazine’s Best Parental Control Software of 2018.