There's a Reason They Call It a Catfight

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Here is some practical advice for helping you daughter with conflict in her early teen years.

One night my daughter Danya crept into my room and gently roused me from a deep sleep. “Mom,” she whispered, “do you hear that?”

The howling cries of a rip-roaring cat fight jolted me into wakefulness. They sounded surprisingly like women shrieking. Several cats had converged on our porch for the second time that week to scream, spit, and hiss at each other, backs arched and tails quivering. Danya and I tapped on the window hoping to scare the cats off. Finally, I opened the front door and loudly shooed them away with a broom.

The next morning I called the vet, seeking a humane way to get rid of the cats. He advised me to do three things: Keep the porch light on, since cats prefer to fight under cover of darkness. Set out open containers of bleach, as cats do not like the odor, and cover the floor of the porch with plastic sheets because cats do not like slick surfaces.

Cat fights are an annual rite of spring. The breeding season stirs up territorial angst among felines as they guard their turf and compete for mating partners. Catfights, on the other hand, is a slang term referring to a physical or verbal altercation between two females. For girls, catfights are typical growing pains, a traditional rite of passage. We moms can effectively extinguish catfights and douse the power of cliques by using the same methods the vet suggested: Shed light on the situation, keep the disinfectant handy, and keep things slippery, so as not to allow the enemy to gain a foothold.

Keep the porch light on. Open communication is key when it comes to raising daughters. In order to know what is going on within their circle of friends, a mom must be intentional about getting in her daughter’s loop. Take her out for one-on-one dates. Use the time to listen to her, and share authentically from your own life and memories.

Keep the disinfectant handy. Growing up and learning how to relate to other women is not easy. It is natural to be critical rather than caring, and fault-finding rather than forgiving. These tendencies must be transformed through the cleansing power of God’s Word. Write the following verses on note cards, and with your daughter, commit them to memory.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, NIV).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV).

“Don’t show favoritism” (James 2:1, NIV).

Keep it slippery. It is all too easy to remember the catfights you experienced as a girl and lose the perspective you have gained as an adult. Keep things slick by keeping in mind these squabbles are temporary. If you give them more weight than they deserve, these personality clashes can develop into miserable feuds that will last all the way through your daughter’s high school years. Make an impact by seeking an open network of parental involvement. A Christian mom’s influence can reach far beyond her family. Open your home to your daughter’s friends, and encourage her to be a peacemaker when catfights occur.

 This post was written by Rebecca Ingram Powell.

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