Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: Summer friendship nightmares
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I don’t think I can handle another year with my four kids and their summer friendship dramas.
My oldest is going into seventh grade. Last year, her best friend decided my daughter wasn’t cool because my daughter wasn’t interested in boys. In fact, she had a sleep-over and the girlfriend was out by the pool with a boy.
Her friend started embarrassing my daughter in front of her other two friends. Three girlfriends never work, as I see it.
Then the two girls decided to ditch my daughter when school started. It crushed her.
Our daughter spent most of sixth grade hiding behind her phone at school and didn’t really make a new friend until March. I’m worried the same thing is going to happen this year.
My other kids have also had negative experiences over summertime friendships and it pretty much ruined summer. We go on a vacation every year and two kids were sulking the whole time.
We see why you’re frustrated. Friendships are much more complex now than even 10 years ago. With the advent of social media, young girls, who are very impressionable, can easily be unprepared for the loss of loyalty.
Girls have a tendency to start looking at other girl friends as competition. Many things are up for grabs, but some of the things they compete with are clothing trends, activities, and popularity.
Around age eight, kids want some independence and friendships become the most important thing in their lives. Parents control lots of things in their lives, like school, chores, homework, rules and more. When they choose a friend, it’s a gold rush for them. They’re the ones picking their friends.
Kids learn for themselves the value and precious blessing a good friend is; someone who won’t betray you or treat you badly in front of others is a lucky charm.
Kids have, on average, one to 10 friends, but many fall out during the year. You’re correct that a triangulation of friends is really dicey. As hard as it might seem for your daughter to not be with the “cool kids,” encourage her to find someone who has the same values, goodness, and care.
It might be a good idea for everyone in the family to talk about this topic. Approach it as a very important issue and see what type of solutions everyone comes up with. Talk about the importance of conflict resolutions; they will happen all their lives. The more control they have over this topic, the better for all of you.
We think your time together this summer will be a lot better.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president of Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation and host of a podcast at BullyingLifeAndStuff.com. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Write them at Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org.