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.

“My friend’s mom bullies her!”

April 19, 2017

What did I do to deserve such rude and disrespectful kids?!

Bullying prevention begins at home. A child’s propensity for being aggressive and/or putting up with aggressive behavior from others may begin at home as well. As this email suggests, however, rushing to judgment about what’s going on in someone else’s family, isn’t helpful.

Teen: My best friend’s mom is always in a bad mood. She’s so rude and unfair! She always grounds my friend for the simplest things. When I’m at my friend’s house her mother is rude to me and lectures me. I try to invite my friend over, but her mom always has an excuse why she can’t come. What do I do? 🙁

Annie:  I can tell you’ve got a good heart because you really care about your friend. I’m sure she values the friendship and really appreciates having you in her life. Your question is a great one: “What can you do if a friend’s mom, dad, stepdad, etc. isn’t being kind or fair to them?”

Here’s the thing, it’s almost impossible to tell what’s actually going on inside of someone else’s family. Suppose, for example, you and your mom are at the supermarket. And let’s say you are in a bad mood because a) you are hungry and b) you have a lot of homework plus a test to study for and c) one of your best friend’s was rude to you right after school and you’re freaking out that she may not be your friend any more. So, yeah, you’re in a bad mood.

Now imagine you and your mom walk down the cereal aisle and you grab your favorite stuff off the shelf. Your mom snaps, “I’m not buying that.” You yell at her and she yells back at you. What if a stranger happens to be watching what just happened? What might she assume about your relationship with your mom?

No assumptions strangers make can’t ever be the whole truth. There might not be any truth to it at all. That’s why it’s always a good idea to look beyond the surface and ask yourself, “What else might be going on here?”

As an outsider, you just never know.

Teen: Thank you so much. I completely understand. Maybe there’s more happening. Do you think it has to do with the parents’ relationship?

Annie: I don’t know for sure. But when a parent is consistently rude, unfair or generally in a bad mood, the child’s behavior is probably not the most important cause. Maybe the parents are having relationship challenges or financial worries, or they’re dealing with other family stresses (sick grandparents, for example). As an outsider, you just never know. But here’s  something you can do: Be as kind and understanding as you can be. If your friend wants to talk about how she’s feeling… be a good listener. That often helps, especially when kids feel like no one understands.

I hope this helps you help her.

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When a BFF leaves you behind

January 26, 2013

I’ve been getting an awful lot of email lately from teens who feel abandoned by their bff. Usually the situation involves a “new girl” coming into the picture who is “stealing” a friend. If this has happened to you (or someone you know) maybe this teen’s email and my answer to it will be helpful. I hope so!

How come she doesn't want to be my friend anymore?

Hey Terra,

Me and “A” have been best friends since kindergarten and we are now in high school. In 7th grade, she started hanging out with this girl named “B.” Now “A” is with “B” all the time. “A” always has her FB status saying she’s “hanging out with my bestie” when she’s with “B.” I feel really jealous and sad. I feel like I shouldn’t be upset because she has the right to be friends with whoever she wants, but it still really hurts my feelings because I feel like she’s replaced me with someone who doesn’t like me. Any input to this would be great!

Ex-BFF

Dear Ex-BFF,

You are right when you say, “‘A’ has the right to be friends with whoever she wants.” And even though your head knows that this is true, your heart “still really hurts” because you miss the closeness you and “A” used to have. Because you don’t yet have another friend to share that same level of closeness with, you feel “jealous” and left-out. I understand.

Sometimes friends outgrow the friendship they have at the same time. Both friends, without saying as much, just start spending less and less time together. It doesn’t usually cause much hurt this way because both friends, for whatever reason, have turned their attention to other things and/or other people. But in this case, it sounds like “A” outgrew the friendship before you did. So you were left feeling “Hey! Come back! I don’t like being here without your friendship!”

My best advice is to try thinking of it this way: This wonderful, long-term friendship you had with “A” has given you many gifts. You two have had lots of great times. Laughed together. Shared secrets. Learned how to negotiate differences of opinions. Learned how to be honest with each other. Through your friendship with “A” you have learned so much about yourself. And one very important thing you’ve learned is what it means to be a great friend. You now have that skill and it’s yours, forever. Now’s the time to: a) Thank “A” for what she’s given you. b) Say goodbye to this phase of your friendship with “A.” You two may become close again in the future, but for now, this chapter has ended. And c) Take what you have learned about friendship and reach out to some new people. You have everything you need to create new friendships which will bring you more wonderful gifts.

Smile. It’s OK. I hope this helps you enjoy the rest of your weekend and the rest of the school year.

In friendship,
Terra

Hey Terra,

Thank you soo much for explaining it like that to me, it makes me feel much better about this situation.

Happier now

Dear Happier Now,

I’m so glad to have helped. Have fun.

In friendship,
Terra

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