Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Party of One/ Girls and Friendships....

How do we teach our children especially girls about friendship ? My eleven year old is very eager to make friends and considers practically every girl she knows a friend. However, from the outside looking in Im often compelled to tell to ask herself "Is this person really a friend ?" How much should I say to her and how much should I let her learn on her own.

It seems as if girls are forming cliques at an earlier age these days. Everyone seems to get along up to the third grade. My first grader has no problems getting along with her peers. My third grader had a falling out with her best friend of three years. I tried to encourage her to talk out their differences and become friends again. They dont even speak to each other anymore and thats sad. At the beginning of the school year they were still attached at the hip. I dont know what happened but one day I was pulled aside by their teacher. She said that the two girls had been physically fighting. That turned out not be true, but the friendship has not been repaired.
They put up a good front for us parents for a short while, then went back to being sworn enemies.

As for my fifth grader, things have been pretty rough this year on the social front. Last year, the get together invitations were flowing like honey. It seemed like every other week, we were going somewhere with one of  one of her friends. I would grit my teeth , thinking cant I have a break for one weekend ? 

This year her popularity level plummeted. She acted like it didnt bother her, it bothered me. But I digress. In adddition to that, she spent a great deal of time being alienated this school year., All it takes is one person to say something negative and everyone else follows suit. For two weeks, she was calling me to come and pick her up early from school. When I arrived at the school, she was sitting in the teacher's lounge doing a puzzle. The sight of her sitting alone, made me want to cry. When this continued to happen, I spoke to her teacher about my concerns. I knew something was going on. My fears were confirmed. Things have improved, but the whole situation and the way she has been treated this school year has left a sour taste in my mouth.

What makes kids decide to alienate one child or suddenly decide they are not good enough to be around anymore ? I know she has had cruel things said to her because she comes home and says the same things to her nine year old sister. I have tried to tell her not to do this because she knows she doesnt like it when it happens to her. She denies anything is happening and says" "I made it up myself." Her solution to being picked on is to laugh at herself in much the same way the overweight person will make fat jokes,  I was the same way growing up. However when you laugh at yourself too hard, you dont value yourself. You begin to see yourself as a joke,.

One day my eleven year old asked me for over twenty dollars. I asked why. She showed me a list of snacks her friends wanted and that she promised to get them. Now she was buying friends. I told her that real friends wouldnt ask her to buy things nor would they accept such gifts knowing you dont have the money to buy it. I was surprised that she actually listened. The question still remains how do we teach our children what a real friend is ? A friend that you always call and they never call you back is not a friend. A person who smiles in your face and talks behind your back is not a friend nor is someone who wants to hang out with you only when they have no other options. As adults we often learn the hard way.

We dont want our children learning the hard way, especially when it comes to friends. I can honestly say my eleven year old doesnt have a mean word to say about anyone. She is certainly no phony. This is why it hurts even more when she encounters fair weather friends. I suppose I have to keep my mouth shut for the next eight years and let her learn who her real friends are.

Hey we can learn together because Im still learning who my real friends are...

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