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October 24, 2007 / missknowitall

Picking New Friends

Dear Little Miss,

Just wondering if you had any advice on the following: I have an 11, nearly 12yr old daughter who just started high school this week and is having an awful time with friends and it’s upsetting as I’m limited in what I can do about it.  She has a ‘friend’, I’ll call her L,  who she’s known for a few years who is rather manipulative, dominant and insensitive to others’ feelings.  My daughter keeps going back to her even after she’s mis-treated her and broke her confidence, etc.  I think one of the reasons for this is that the my daughter, although mostly confident and sometimes outgoing, has limited social skills and finds it hard to make new friends.  She also has some self-esteem issues as she’s slightly overweight.  I think L  plays on this and tends to alienate her and scupper any chance of new friends.  It’s as if she doesn’t want her unless it’s benefiting her but no-one else can have her. A 15yr old girl in the larger group which L socializes in is adamant she dislikes my daughter even though she hardly knows her, therefore she’s not even ‘playing out’ now after school at all.  To make matters worse L has somehow recruited one of my daughters existing friends(not really close but a nice girl neighbor) who initially thought L was bad news and is managing to drive a wedge between those 2 now as she is starting to behave in the same ‘bitchy manner’!  I suppose ultimately the best outcome would be to get her away from these girls altogether and encourage her to find new more sensible and brighter friends but it’s so hard not get involved, to treat my daughter with respect and maturity when I know she’s making mistakes.  She’s become moody, withdrawn and downright bloody cheeky but I love her dearly and want to be there for her. HELP! Thanks for listening.

Watchful Mom

Dear Watchful,

“You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friends’ noses.” 

I don’t recommend nose picking, but I do think your daughter should start picking new friends.  Bullies are so cruel.  Your daughter sounds rather beaten down and I’m sure her self esteem has been deeply wounded by this.  Sadly, that will make it all the more difficult for her to fight back and get better friends.  Because L seemed like her first “good/cool friend” and because L is rather dominant, your daughter is really going to crave her friendship.  The only way around this is to prove to your daughter that she can be just as much a leader as L can be.  Plan a Halloween party, or a fall party, or a Christmas party (depending on time needed).  Have your daughter help you to make big decisions as you browse magazines and look at party sites online for ideas.  Tell her to pick 2 nice friends that she likes (NOT L!) to help her get ready for the party.  Let her know that this is her chance to reinvent herself.  Ask her, “What do you want your friends to be like?”  Help her see that kindness is so much more important than popularity in friends.  Tell her to invite people that she has always wanted to get to know (NOT L).  Don’t let it be a big party.  About 5-10 girls is good, that way everyone has a chance to get to know each other.  Take pictures of the girls together, have them exchange phone numbers and addresses, etc.  After the party is over encourage your daughter’s new friendships by telling her she can have 1-2 of them over once a week for dinner, sleep over, etc.  You may have to put forth extra effort to make your house conducive to such teen fun, but it is worth it for your daughter’s well being.  Oh, and if your daughter is worried about L’s reaction to not being invited tell her to say, “L, when you can act like a true friend to me ALL the time then I will invite you to my parties.  But not this time.”  You two could even have fun practicing this to help her build up her nerve.

You can tell your daughter that I was shy and not “skinny” in school and I learned really fast to ditch the bad friends and find the nice and fun ones.  It sure made for a better school time.  Party on, dude-ettes!

Miss Knowitall

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One Comment

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  1. Left-Handed / Oct 24 2007 10:32 am

    Oh wow! I strongly suggest that you read the book “Odd Girl Out, The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls” by Rachel Simmons. The whole book is about the experience it sounds like your daughter is having. It is absolutely one of my favorite books.

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