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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From today’s IN BOX: Getting dumped by a BFF hurts so bad!

October 28, 2015

Forever may be shorter than you think

Forever may be shorter than you think

The emails from girls who have been “dumped” by a BFF and “replaced” by their ex-BFF’s new BFF continue to pile up. I get several every day. And while it’s normal to feel upset when the person you’ve been closest to no longer gives a fig for your friendship and it’s helpful to reach out to someone you can trust, you’ve got to ask yourself: what can I do besides feeling like crap?

If you’re a teen, this one’s is for you. I’m going to tell you how to use your power in ways that will make you feel good about yourself… not like the “thrown out pickle on a hamburger” (as one 13 year old so eloquently put it.)

If you’re the parent of a teen, this one’s for you too because even when your girl feels “helpless” there are ways you can help her through this rejection.

Hey Terra – My BFF and I have been really close for 3 years. Last year I became close with another friend. I treated them both like my best friends and I had no idea my first BFF was kinda jealous of the other, she never told me. I felt her drifting away. Then she started getting close to a newcomer and calling her her best friend! I felt replaced. I am getting jealous and I really wish I can have my best friend back. It hurts everytime I see their pictures together. They are always hugging each other and holding hands, which I dislike because she never did that with me. It really hurts at the moment because I can feel my friend ignoring me. I feel so lost Terra, please help me. – Lost and Hurting

Dear Lost and Hurting,

It’s not easy to feel “replaced” in the heart of someone you really care about. I’m sorry you’re hurting. Maybe I can help.

I think it’s interesting that the first half of your email describes the feelings of jealousy your friend experienced when you got close to the other girl. You are intelligent and you’ve probably already noticed the situation has flippednow you’re feeling the same way she did!

The question to be answered is: What can you do about this?

You cannot control your friend’s feelings or thoughts or behavior. If she wants to spend more time with the other girl and if she wants to call the other girl her best friend, you have no control over that. But you do have control over how you respond from this moment on.

If it hurts or makes you jealous to look at their pictures then don’t look. Stop hurting yourself this way. Choose to stay away from her FB page or Instagram or whatever. Likewise, if you feel jealous when you see them hugging each other then stop following them with your eyes. And if you see them, by chance, look away. These choices are within your power.

You don’t say how long this has been bringing you down. I hope not too long. You can choose to continue feeling sad, jealous and rejected if you want to. I wouldn’t recommend that! Instead, I’d recommend that you think about new friends. Start with a list where you fill in the blank to complete this sentence: “I want a best friend who is—————.” Think about all the qualities you are looking for in a close friend. Are you looking for friend who is as intelligent as you are? A friend who shares your values and interests and sense of humor? A friend who wants to be with you as much as you want to be with her? Make a list and then go shopping for a new friend. And be patient. Sometimes it takes a while to find a quality friend.

I hope this helps.
In friendship,
Terra

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“My daughter has trouble keeping friends!”

September 26, 2013

Got an email from Concerned Mom whose smart, funny daughter has no trouble making friends, but lots of trouble keeping them. The pattern is this: Daughter gets close to other girls and feels accepted by them. Then, within weeks new found friends exclude and then ignore the girl. Naturally, she feels upset and alone, which, of course breaks Mom’s heart. She turned to me for advice and here’s what I told her:

Everyone got invited but me*
(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)

 

I understand that it breaks your heart to see your daughter so unhappy. Of course you want her to make real friends who treat her with affection, kindness and respect. But it feels like something is missing in your email.

 

Each time your daughter is disappointed by a new friend you’ve listened to her side of the story, sympathized and offered comfort and support. All good! But there are at least two sides to every relationship story. That’s why I am curious about what’s going on from the other girls’ perspectives. Maybe you’re also wondering why each of these new friends turn against your daughter after such a short time? It’s a mystery worth exploring.

What might your daughter be doing (knowingly or unknowingly) to contribute to this reaction she often gets? How about if you ask her: “Why do you think ____ stopped wanting to be your friend?”

This question may bring up a lot of emotion, so please ask it in a neutral tone of voice. You’re not accusing your daughter of anything! You’re simply inviting her to put aside her sadness and think about what may be going on here. Right now, she’s hurt and confused and probably feeling powerless. She can regain some of her power by understanding how she functions in friendships because she plays a significant role in every one of them, whether she’s aware of it yet or not. To encourage her to think about that role you need to ask thoughtful, open-ended questions that have no “right” or “wrong” answers. Questions like “Why do you think this girl stopped being your friend?”

Listen to your daughter with an open heart and mind. Try not to interrupt. Initially, she may not say much. She might just shrug and say, “I don’t know.” In which case you might nod understandingly and say, “It’s hard to know why other people do what they do. But we usually have a reason. Your friends have been rude to you. If you could just guess why, what would you guess?”

Your daughter may have fallen into the habit of thinking of herself as a powerless victim to whom other people do unkind things. That’s not a good mental place for her to be. We want our girls to understand emotions (their own and other people’s). We also want them to feel confident in their ability to make and keep real friends. That includes learning to rebound from set-backs and to negotiate the ups and downs of relationships.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,
Annie

*Illustration by Erica De Chavez, from my upcoming The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship


UPDATE October 3, 2014: The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA is now available in print and on Kindle (the ebook can be read on any device, your mobile phone, tablet, or computer with the free Kindle reader app). Visit GirlsQandA.com for an excerptreviews, and to order your copy.

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