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“I don't understand all the girl drama when it comes to friends. If guys don't want to be good friends anymore, we just reduce things to a 'Hey.' 'Hey.' And that's it. Girls? Way more complicated.”
That keen observation about boy-girl differences came from my 13-year-old son over breakfast recently.
This year at summer camp launched what’s officially become The Era of Girl Drama for my 10-year old daughter. And, like my son, I often feel ill-equipped to deal with it.
Someone who was my daughter’s best friend last month, last week – or even in the last few minutes – can suddenly be on the outs. Sometimes, it’s short lived; other times, the relationships never seem quite the same.
I decided to do what any tech-savvy dad would do. I Googled "girl drama." The first page of results included an article from author Nancy Rue, who penned a series of fictional books starring tween girls named Lily and Sophie, which my daughter is in the process of mowing through.
Beyond simply being a listening ear (which, alone, is huge), one helpful piece of advice Rue offered was to paint a picture of what a good friendship looks like. So, one Saturday morning, my daughter and I sat on our living room couch and I got out a piece of paper and drew a line down the center of the page. We made two lists. We titled the left side “Fabulous Friends” and the right side “Stinky Friends.” (It was her idea.)
Then, I asked her to tell me what behaviors make for a fabulous friend. We came up with some attributes: honest, trustworthy, stand up for you, encourage you, loyal, forgiving and loving. Behaviors of a stinky friend: lying, not being there for you, saying mean things, making fun of you, not being supportive, not taking you seriously and holding grudges. After going through our two lists, I think it helped create an image of what good friends, and unreliable friends, look like.
I also shared with her that I had some friends come and go during my school years. What typically happened in my life was that when one fractured friendship ended, new friendships – with people I had more in common with – often developed in their place. Despite some pain along the way, I think my daughter has already seen that play out in her own life this school year.
Sadly, I think there will be plenty more girl drama in the coming years as my wife and I help my little girl tackle middle school … and then high school. It turns out that "girl drama" is a big enough topic for us dads to navigate that it rates an entire chapter in Rue’s recent book, What Happened to My Little Girl? Dad's Ultimate Guide to His Tween Daughter. There are good ideas there, but I’d like to hear from you.
If "Hey" and a head-nod don’t quite cut it, how have you been able to help your daughter manage the "girl drama" she encounters?
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I do not have Girls but I have a 11 year Old boy and I do not allow him to be around other kids. He sees some other children at homeschool group outings, but I do not allow him to socialise other than basic politeness. No drama!
Great article on girls.... Being a good friend, and letting those go that are not, is key. As for not letting your kid socialize at all..., a whole different problem! We have to live in the world, just not OF it...
Rich...appreciate your insights from a dad perspective. Loved the lists and helping your daughter identify what are the right qualities in friends. Raising girls as a dad can be quite "interesting." One of the things I try to do on a regular basis with my daughters is just affirm the God-given qualities they have...acknowledge their beauty, or intelligence, kindness, courage.
One of the things I have used with my daughters, especially if friendship turns into "mean girls" is knowing how to stand for who they are and feeling confident in that. Easier said than done...but I think having our girls have a plan in dealing with that stuff is half the battle.
I love the idea of affirming your daughter's God-given giftings. Our daughters and sons will certainly face their fair share of discouraging words from their peers and others. It's important we remember to continually build them up along the way and remind them of all the special qualities God's given them.
Thanks for the insights. I think boys can be meaner than we give them credit for too. I think that boys are taught that they need to be tough, when in reality they have strong feelings too. I think we need to be sensitive and so in tune with where our kids are in their lives, to be able to build them up through the words that come from God of just how special they are. They need to have a confidence in themselves and in who God specifically made them to be, so that when the enemy tries to make them question it, they can stand strong.....loved this post.