*Note: this originally ran in DotComsForMoms.com about three years ago, but someone asked me to forward it, and it's no longer available... so here it is! :) Attack of the Alpha Mom! Dealing with Mean Girls – The Adult Version
Just because we’re all growds up, doesn’t mean we are free and clear of the dreaded “mean girl.” Or, as I like to call them, “Alpha Moms.” In case you’re unsure of how to properly identify an Alpha Mom, I define them as any woman who makes you feel bad about your choices. I don’t mean the kind of choices that lead to prison time, I’m talking about the everyday stuff that ultimately amounts to how we live our lives. They are the gals who dish out judgmental “digs” just when you are least prepared. Need an example?
- “You’re feeding her THAT? Do you have any idea how much sugar is in that?”
- “You leave your kids with a nanny? I could never do that…”
- “You go away with your girlfriends twice a year? Wow. (and not in a nice way)”
Personally, I am very susceptible to attacks because I need to be liked. Alpha Moms see me and they lick their chops. But the older I get, the less energy I have to worry about who likes me and who doesn’t. I have to imagine that there are quite a lot of us out there that feel the same way, and there are some killer reads on this topic that I wanted to share. Here’s what I’ve gathered:
The Happiest Mom posted this article, which reminds me that although my daughter will be spending the next 8 years of her life at this school (and therefore me with these parents), I should not expect to get all of my social/emotional needs met there. Given what an amazing community our school has, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting it to be all things to me. That’s asking too much of any situation, and really isn’t fair to the other moms I’m putting my needs on. It’s a big wide world, and I need to remember that.
Babble posted this FANTASTIC article written by the author of Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry. In it, Lenore Skenazy suggests that we go public with some of our shame-bound parenting decisions. Why? Alpha moms “…thrive on shame. Take away their power.” By owning the choices we make without being defensive or arrogant, we free others to speak their mind, and we disarm the Alpha mom’s secret weapon.
In this article, “Dealing with Judgmental Mommies,” I loved the whole idea of killin ‘em with kindness. Behavior specialist Cindy Brown, Psy.D suggests honoring the Alpha’s input in a way that is compassionate. For example, “I know you know a lot about this, what worked well for your family?” It’s great because it comes from a place of empathy and curiosity, and deflects the attention from you and onto her.
When my mom was visiting last week, I heard echoes of Alpha-ness come out of my own mouth. Like, “Grandma believes that it’s ok for kids to watch a lot of TV. Mommy does not share that belief.” Sarcastic, passive aggressive and totally not constructive. Turns out, if I’m looking for practice dealing with Alpha Moms, sometimes I need look no further than the mirror.