September E-mail: Helping Your Child Handle Mean Girls and Frenemies

Parents! In case you didn’t see our September Parent E-mail, here it is. If you’d like to receive tips, tools and guidance for raising your tween, teen or young adult, please sign up for our monthly parent e-mail.

>Dear Parents:

What makes a good friend?

This is something I’ve been discussing a lot lately with my 12-year-old twin daughters, Taylor and Kendall, as I help them navigate the ever-changing landscape of teen friendships.

Since starting middle school, my girls seem to have a “best friend” of the week. While I think it’s terrific to make new friends, I want to make sure they aren’t ditching their old pals. “How would you feel if you were her?” I asked when they suddenly stopped being friends with a girl they’d been close with for years. I cannot tell them who to be friends with, but I can teach them to be sensitive to the feelings of others.

And then there’s the flip side – comforting your child when a friend turns on her.

I remember when Kendall told me how two of her “friends” suddenly cast her out at the lunch table. “Who invited you to sit here?” they asked before telling her to leave. It was heartbreaking to hear.

I had to remind Kendall that girls in their teenage years can be mean and say hurtful things just to make themselves feel better.

I try to encourage my girls to be kind to everyone, even if they don’t like the person. As cliche as it might sound, what comes around goes around.

Here are 8 ways to encourage healthy friendships:

1. Regularly talk about what true friendship means – and the qualities that are important in a friend.

2. Help your child recognize behaviors that do not make a good friend.

3. Let your child know if you disapprove of one of his or her friends (or a group of friends) and explain why.

4. Try to be a good role model and use your own relationships to show how healthy friendships look and feel.

5. Get to know the parents of your children’s friends.

6. Talk to your child frequently—about everything from events of the day to his hope and dreams to dealing with peer pressure.

7. Know who your kids are hanging out with. (I don’t make my girls feel like I am being nosy but I do let them know that I have the right to check their phones, email and text messages should I feel the need to.)

8. Remind your child that that you are always there to lend an ear.

To me, a good friend is someone you can always count on. Someone who is there in the good times and bad. A true friend loves you for who you are and does not change how she feels based on what other people think.

Wishing you and your children shiploads of healthy friendships,

Teri Christensen

Senior Vice President & Director of Field Operations at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Mother of Taylor (12) and Kendall (12)

P.S. Having great friends and colleagues is one of many reasons why I love my job at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. I even made a video about it!

Related Links:

When You Don’t Like Your Teenager’s Friends

5 Things Parents Should Explain to Teens About Sexting

Teenage Girls and Cyber-Bullying

Obsessed with Being Connected: The Downside of Social Networking for Teens

How to Get Your Teen to Open Up and Talk to You More (and Text A Little Less)

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey

If you’d like to receive tips, tools and guidance for raising your tween, teen or young adult, please sign up for our monthly parent e-mail.