Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

New school year, new school… new friends (please!!)

August 29, 2014

When you’re all cozy in a friendship you can totally relax. Even going to school is more fun because your friend is there. But when you move to a school where you know no one, and your bff friend from your old school stops acting like a friend, then nothing feels right.

I recently got this email from a girl who is in that sad place:

Girls' Friendship Q&A Book, iIllustration by Erica DeChavez

Where do I fit it?!  (from The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, by Annie Fox, illustrated by Erica De Chavez, © 2014 by Annie Fox and Erica De Chavez. Now available)

Hey Terra,

Last year I moved to a new place. Later I heard that my best friend was best friends with some new girl. That girl is apparently really popular and cool (and also kinda mean) and in one year’s time my bff has become friends with all the poplar kids at school. I know it’s wrong of me, but  I feel really sad and envious. I have seen posts of both of them saying how much fun they have together and how they love each other. (Come on! I knew her much longer than this new girl!) And the sucky part is that at my new school, my new friends keep ditching me. I feel so depressed. 🙁
–Sad and Jealous

Dear Sad and Jealous,

When you moved, what did you expect your best friend to do? Spend all day in her room feeling sad and lonely? Of course she missed you. She also wanted and needed new friends. I’m guessing that you are feeling “sad and envious” because you haven’t yet connected with real friends at your new school. HINT: Real friends do not “keep ditching” you.

A new school year just started. My best advice: stop checking your old friend’s FB page. It’s bringing you down! Don’t do it any more. Instead create a new goal for yourself… “I’m going to find a new best friend.”
Here’s how:

  • Grab a piece of paper and make a list (I love lists!)
  • Think long and deep about what’s really important to you in a friendship.
  • Write down all the traits you are looking for in a best friend. For example, you might write: Loyal, a sense of humor, intelligent, shares my interests… etc etc etc.
  • Use that list and go “shopping” for a new best friend. (Be on the lookout for the kind of people at school who’ve got what you want in a friend.)
  • When you find one, smile, say, “Hi,” and see what happens.

Go for it! Good luck! And please let me know how it goes.

Three weeks later…

Hey Terra,

I’M DOING GREAT 😀 I made a few more new friends who wont ditch me? and I think I have gotten over my old best friend. Though I think it would still take some time before I make a best friend.

Thank you so much, Terra!

I love happy beginnings. ;O)

If you could use some new friends this year (you can never have too many of the real kind) make a list and go shopping. It could work for you, too.

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GirlWorld: Twisted values, twisted friendships

March 25, 2014

We can be mean to her and still be nice, can't we?

We can be mean to her and still be nice, can’t we?

“Do unto others” makes no sense to middle schoolers.  (Ideally it should, but that’s not how TweenWorld currently operates.) To help our kids navigate the turbulent and toxic waters of peer relationships, we’ve got to wake up and smell the reality stinking up their world (online and off).

Of course both girls and boys have middle school friendship woes. And yes, both boys and girls can become Peer Approval Addicts. But girls often take their feelings of hurt, jealousy, betrayal and rejection to dramatic and damaging heights. So let’s talk about girl friendships.

The social garbage girls throw at each other is the stuff of rumors, gossip, harassment, and exclusion. And it often happens under the radar. Because even though a girl may be eviscerating a former bff at school and online, she still wants to think of herself as a nice girl.  (I said it was twisted, didn’t I?)

 

50 Ways to Fix a Friendship without the DRAMA

50 Ways to Fix a Friendship without the DRAMA

I wrote The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship for 8-12 year olds and the adults who care about them. Let’s face it, parents are rarely aware of what’s going on on the battlefield of their daughters’ friendships. It usually comes to light when their girl feels victimized and can no longer contain her distress. At that moment she may spill the whole story of her so-called friend’s bad behavior.  In response a parent might logically advise:

“Tell her how you feel about this.  Tell her she’s got to stop.”

“I can’t tell her that!”

“Why not? It’s true!”

“Because it will hurt her feelings!”

“Excuse me!?  You won’t tell her she’s hurt you because you don’t want to hurt her feelings?!  What about your feelings?”

“Forget about it, Mom/Dad. I’m sorry I said anything. You just don’t get it.”

Bingo! Parents can’t fathom the logic here. But to the girl, the logic is clear. She will swallow her pain because she (justifiably) fears that complaining about bad treatment will cause her friend and all the others in their friendship circle to ditch the plaintiff, swiftly and completely. Our targeted daughter will be friendless and she knows it.  And because that is a fate worse than death she puts up with the ongoing abuse. Pretends it doesn’t hurt. Continues to think of these girls as her friends and continues to hang out with them and be abused.

Her confusion over the love-hate/comfort-pain mix may cloud her judgment when she starts dating. If she puts up with emotional abuse in a friendship why assume she’ll choose a thoughtful caring romantic partner over one who dominates, demeans and controls?

As parents we need to help our daughters develop enough self-respect to demand respectful treatment from others, especially those closest to them. Let’s help them acknowledge the truth of what’s going on in their friendships. We won’t be able to change “mean” girl behavior in others, but we can, at the very least, help our daughters acknowledge that their pain at the hands of friends is real, undeserved and unacceptable.  Then we can point out their options:

1. Stay silent. Stick with friends who hurt you and expect more of the same.

2. Talk to them about it and let them know you’re no longer giving them permission to disrespect you. If nothing changes, consider option #3.

3. Take a (permanent) vacation from the drama. Reach out to people who share your values about what it means to be a real friend.

Here’s to Real Friends vs. the Other Kind  and to less friendship drama!

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