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.

Girls’ Friendship Issues Haven’t Changed

March 17, 2015

Morning walks with The Pupster reveal more and more free stuff in the neighborhood. Curbside boxes filled with coffee mugs (“Kalua!”), anemic Christmas cacti, Danielle Steele novels, rusty tools. (Be still, my heart!) Horray for spring cleaning. I should race down to my own garage and thin out the flotsam and junksam, but I’d rather be blogging.

My best friend doesn't love me anymore!

My best friend doesn’t love me anymore!

Though yesterday, I did a bit of feng shui. In my SENT BOX, I  found a dust-covered Hey Terra letter from 2002. (Thank god, I answered it promptly, thirteen years ago.) I have no idea why I hung on to this one. I’ll take it as a sign it should be posted, if for no other reason than to give me permission to delete it and to show that when it comes to girls’ friendship issues, some things don’t change.

Hey Terra,

My best friend of five years has just decided to end our friendship.
She claims that I constantly destroy her self-esteem. I always try to support her, and tell her how wonderful she is. I am usually there to pick up the pieces after she is hurt by others. So I don’t understand why she’d accuse me of things I have never done. She also claims that we don’t get along anymore. This is the first spat we’ve had in five years. She never allowed the friendship to push through the disillusionment/spat to actually cultivate a more meaningful relationship. She just ended it.

She seems to lean towards friendships that really have no depth.
She always has to be the leader of the group. Another thing, she
never has any passion for anything in her life (except her own
wants).  She cannot see past herself.  She tends to separate
herself from people who actually have passion in their life.
She never listens either. I just do not understand why she would be
like this, and why she refuses to listen to anyone. Doesn’t a close,
five-year relationship mean anything to her? She wasn’t even
willing to try to work at it!



Dear Curious,

From what you describe it sounds like you and your friend expect very
different things from a friendship. You seem to be looking for a
“meaningful” relationship that goes beyond the surface. You think of
yourself as someone who has passion for things and you clearly
don’t admire the fact that she “never has any passion for anything…
except her own wants.” You describe your friend as a person who needs
to be in control and tends to be self-centered and “never listens to
anyone.” From your words, she doesn’t sound like much fun to be around.

Yet, in spite of all these differences, which have clearly been obvious to you for a while, you still call this a “close” relationship. That makes me “Curious” too! Is
this a real friendship or a 5-year habit that you might be interested in breaking?

Think about it.

In friendship,

Meanwhile, back in 2015…. How might we do a better job teaching our girls there are standards in friendships and that it’s smart to evaluate relationships with an eye toward what you want and need? If it turns out that your daughter is not happy in a friendship, encourage her to discuss it (privately and respectfully) with her friend. If that doesn’t result in positive changes, let’s teach our girls to find the EXIT so they can get more of what they deserve from someone else. Your thoughts?


Guest blogger: Why Kids Listen to their Parents or Don’t

April 1, 2013

by Rick Ackerly, M. Ed.

Rick Ackerly is a nationally recognized educator and speaker with 45 years experience. He’s served as head of four independent schools, speaks to parent and school groups across the country and at education conferences. Rick is the author of The Genius in Every Child. Visit his blog to learn more about his innovative approach to education and parenting.

Rick Ackerly knows about the genius in children

Last month, waiting at gate B22A at O’Hare a parent told me how frustrated she was with her teenage daughter.

“I’ve tried everything with Julie. I read the parenting books and tried it all, and it’s just not working.”

“What did you try?” I asked.

“You know. I confronted unacceptable behavior; I acknowledged her feelings while insisting on what I wanted. I tried not take it personally, but nothing worked.”

“How do you know it’s not working?” I asked.

She looked at me as if I were either goading her or simply an idiot. “She keeps doing the very things I tell her not to do.”

“With teenagers,” I said. “That is not a sign that it is not working. Adolescents are not constituted to obey. They are wired to disobey. Well, not exactly disobey. They are wired to make their own decisions—not necessarily good ones, but to make them. It is essential for their survival that they practice making decisions and noticing results.”

She, of course, was not relieved to hear this. Raising teenagers can be a nerve- wracking experience, and I have never known a parent who is in the throes of this enterprise to be easily pacified. And anyway, I never got the chance to attempt further consolation, because the boarding process began just as I was delivering my shocking message that “They are wired to disobey.”

I wish I had had the time to tell her about a conversation I had with 18-year-old Allison as I drove her home from a basketball game one Wednesday evening several years ago.

“I listen to my father,” said Allison, “because I have found that he tells me things that turn out to be true. Like ‘Never go out without money,’ he says.”

Allison had needed someone to talk to. Last Saturday night there had been a party where some of her classmates got drunk and trashed the house of a classmate.

She went on: “I wish I could talk to the parents of my friends and tell them how to talk to their kids. I wish they would tell them things like ‘Never go out without money.’ There we are at Starbucks and they’re all, ‘Allison, can you pay for this? I didn’t bring any money,’ and I go, ‘Sure.’ But it get’s annoying. They do pay me back, but it’s annoying. Parents ought to be careful what they tell their kids, so that when they give them advice, the kids will listen. What those kids did to that house was gross.”

“But you don’t always do what your father says, do you?”

“No, but when he talks, I do listen. Sure, it makes me mad when he tells me to get off Facebook and to start doing my homework, but I know he is telling me the right thing. That’s the point. I know it is the right thing for him to tell me. It makes him mad when I don’t do it right away, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be between parents and their teenagers. I know he’s right. I just have to do it myself. He has become like an authority. When he speaks I listen.”

Don’t all parents want to become “like an authority?” Listen to Allison. She is on to something very important.

Until age five, it is important for parents to back up their statements—with force if necessary. If a parent says: “No, you can’t have a candy cane before dinner,” then it is very important that the child does not eat a candy cane before dinner. “Eight o’clock bedtime” has to mean: In bed by eight. Period. If a parent says it’s bad for you and then let’s you do it, how can you trust such a parent? Why should a child listen to such a parent?

However, by age thirteen, the human brain is working to develop and consolidate the part of the brain that makes decisions—the pre-frontal cortex. By 18 the teenage brain has all the circuitry of an adult brain, but not enough practice. They know drinking to excess is not good for you, and that trashing a house is very bad, but the adolescent mind is open to other possibilities which must be tested to be “known.” Close relationships with adult authorities are important for helping kids know which end is up. If kids listen to parents it is because parents have proven that they are authorities worth listening to.

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