How to Be a Low Drama Mama

I’m the parent of a middle school girl. What does that mean? It means that I’m exposed to more drama than people living on Broadway. Drama about mean girls and feeling left out. Drama about boys and how they act and how confusing all of it is. Drama about changing bodies and how no one else has ever had to FEEL all of these FEELINGS! Just her! She’s the only one!

Don’t get me wrong: I know that, to my daughter, all of this is very real. And that I have to be patient with her emotional status which is riding some sort of hormonal Tilt-A-Whirl. I need to listen, to soothe, to console. But guess what I don’t need to do? Get on the tilt-a-whirl with her.

Crazy as it sounds, I see moms every day who buy into the drama and make it bigger than it is already. These are the moms whose own latent middle school insecurities come rushing back to the surface, at times, and make them, well…nuts. This is the exact opposite of what your daughter needs. She needs you to practice the How to Be a Low Drama Mama and help her keep her feet on the ground. She’s counting on you.

1. Remember what it was like to be that age…and how needless much of your anxiety was.

Sometimes our kids do such a convincing job of painting a picture of their desperate social/academic/performance woes, we buy into the hype. But slow down; just a second. Think back to that time in 6th grade when you didn’t get invited to THE sleepover of the year, and the world ended as you knew it. You never recovered, did you? Your life was over, right?

Wrong. You were upset, and your feelings were hurt for several days. But none of it really mattered in the end. Accept it as a tool for helping you learn how to cope with temporary disappointment. So before you start calling other moms and staging a protest, ask yourself if it will really matter in a year…or a week. We’re not saying there’s never a time to get involved or advocate for your child. But we are saying that those occasions are pretty rare. Keep your powder dry for something that does matter.

2. Repeat after me, Mom: “It’s not about me.”

Much of the mama drama I see going on around me seems to be rooted in the mother’s insecurity, which she is projecting onto (and training into) her child. It usually looks like a kid thinking, “Darn. I didn’t make cheerleader. That stinks. I’m disappointed,” and mama taking it to, “My baby didn’t make cheerleader because of a VAST CONSPIRACY rooted in community jealousy of her and total devotion to keeping her down.” If you are very quickly offended or upset regarding your child’s perceived successes or failures, or constantly worried about where your kid fits in the social hierarchy, you may be dabbling with Stage Mom Syndrome. Treat yourself and everyone–especially your child–will be better off.

3. Give other kids, parents, and teachers the benefit of the doubt.

Do you quickly jump to assuming that others have the worst motives? Or do you choose to believe that most people are decent–if imperfect–folks? Giving people the benefit of the doubt will save you and your child from a great deal of unnecessary drama. Maybe the coach really does like your kid, but thinks he needs to work harder in practice to deserve more playing time. Maybe the teacher really does want to see your child succeed, but thinks a “B” now will be worth more to her in the long run than an undeserved “A.” If you really are concerned and struggling to understand where they’re coming from, just ask. Go to the other parent, teacher or coach and express your concerns, but give them a chance to explain their thinking and motivation. When we assume the worst, we amp up the drama, and we train our children to do the same. Be slow to anger.

4. Remember the goal.

Here’s the deal: Even when other people are acting badly or your kid is getting a bit of a raw deal, dial down the drama anyway. Why? Because since you can’t reengineer the world to always be good and fair for your child, your primary job as a parent is to train your child in how to respond to and cope with an imperfect world. {Tweet This} By sinking lots of attention and emotional energy into what other people did, you allow your child to avoid the more important question of how they should respond. Dwell briefly on the offense, but move on to what you and your child should do in light of it, and they have lots of options!

Sound off: How do you stay above the kid drama as a parent? Do you ever see moms who get sucked in?