November 24, 2014
Conventional Wisdom: Girls are more talkative than boys, especially when it comes to expressing their feelings.
Annie: That depends on the risk the girl believes she’s taking by being honest.
This question comes from Tweenhood.ca, a thoughtful, complete resource for parents of tweens. Co-fouder Wendy Morrelli, was kind enough to host a stop on my Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship blog tour last month.
Q: I’ve heard my friend say and do things that are not nice. But I’m afraid to say something as I don’t want to lose her friendship.
“I want to talk to her but I’m scared!” Illustration by Erica De Chavez from The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship by Annie Fox © 2014
Annie: Here’s what I hear you saying, “I don’t like the way she’s acting. I want it to stop. But I don’t want her to be mad at me. So I don’t know what to do!” I’ve heard this same fear expressed by many girls, so you’re certainly not alone!
When we are uncomfortable in a friendship because a friend is doing or saying something rude or disrespectful (to us or other people) we need to speak up. If you don’t tell her how her behavior makes you feel, she won’t know because she isn’t a mind-reader! But it’s hard to tell a friend that you don’t like what she’s doing. Maybe you’re afraid she will get angry and not want to be your friend any more. Maybe you also believe being a “good” friend means you should never say anything negative about your friend’s behavior. Where does that leave you? I’m guessing it probably leaves you feeling stuck. But you aren’t stuck. You always have options. You can stay silent, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Do you know why? Because when things aren’t going well in a friendship, silence does not make things better. Silence usually makes things stay the same or actually make things worse! If you are looking for ways to make things better between you and your friend, I suggest you take some slow deep breaths and say calmly and respectfully say this to her: “When you do ________ it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me lose respect for you. Please stop doing that.” Then close your mouth and listen to what she has to say. It could be a really interesting conversation! Read the rest of our Q&A at Tweenhood.
Bonus Question for Parents: How could you do a better job empowering your daughter to speak up in a friendship?
October 29, 2014
I met Beth Engleman (@Momonastring) back in 2002 when we worked together on a project at LeapFrog. Smart woman. Quick to smile. Liked her immediately. Twelve years later she’s rocking it out at MommyOnAShoeString.com.
Last Friday Beth kindly hosted a stop on The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship blog tour and challenged me with sticky questions from 4th-7th graders. This one touched my heart:
Is this really the end?
M: I am in 5th grade and my best friend since 1st grade is now hanging out with a new girl who moved to our school this year. They often don’t include me. What should I do to get my BFF back?
Annie: It can be very upsetting when someone you were once so close to now acts like the friendship isn’t important. It can be disappointing and confusing when a friend doesn’t treat you with the care and respect you deserve. It can also hurt when someone “new” shows up and seems to be taking your place in your friend’s heart.
You seem to think that you can do something to get your BFF “back.” Maybe if you had a magic wand and a handy spell you might be able to turn the friendship back to the way it was. That would be cool, but that’s not going to happen. You don’t need me to tell you that there are no such things as wands and spells. Your friend has her own thoughts and feelings and there is nothing you can do to get her to “include” you unless she chooses to do it!
But even without magic, you are not powerless. There are always options for improving a situation, especially for lightening up the heavy way you feel right now. You are hurting. You may also be feeling jealous (of the new girl) and/or lonely. If your goal is to feel better, then you could talk to your friend (privately and calmly… you don’t need an audience or any drama). You might say something like this, “I really miss hanging out with you. I miss the good times we used to have. I feel left out when you and _____ do stuff without me.” That’s the truth and it is often empowering to speak the truth. Saying the words will give your friend something to think about. If the friendship grows stronger, then it was a good thing that you spoke up for yourself. If things between you do not change and the girls continue not including you, then it was still good that you spoke up. Now you know that you deserve to be treated with respect. Take what you’ve learned and be on the look-out for new friends. Good luck!
Check out the rest of Beth’s Q’s and my A’s and the rest of the blog tour.
50 Ways to Fix a Friendship without the DRAMA
October 27, 2014
My days as a pumpkin are over. Now I’m just a squash.
The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship blog tour bus pulled up in front of EncouragePlay.com. On the front porch, beside a carved-too-early Jack-o-lantern, former school counselor, Janine Halloran and I enjoyed fresh pumpkin muffins and apple cider. Then she threw me this tricky question from a former student:
“I have a bad reputation in school for being mean but I’d like to change it. How can I do that?”
Janine: What would you say to that girl?
Annie: It sounds like you now understand how your reputation grew from your not being careful with other people’s feelings. I’m really proud of you for realizing you are responsible for your behavior and that you want to start making better choices. The first step is to apologize to everyone you knowingly hurt with your words and your actions (online and off). Talk to each person separately. (This might take a while and it might not be an easy conversation to have, but you can do it!)
To each person, you might say something like this, “I’m very sorry for what I did to you. It was mean and I want to apologize.” Then close your mouth and listen to what the person says. They may still be angry with you for things you did. (And they may have a right to be angry!) Please try to stay calm and not to get angry back. Just listen to what they have to say. You may learn a lot from what you hear. Even if the person is so surprised by your apology that he or she doesn’t know what to say, that’s OK. You have given them something to think about. You might just leave it at that… Or you might add this: “I’m trying to be a nicer person. I hope you give me a chance to prove it.”
What experiences have you had trying to get people to see you in a new way?