My 11 year old daughter got into a fight with her best friend a few weeks ago. Her friend would be mean to her or jealous at times. I always told her to try and talk to her and work it out. It just got worse and now they don't talk at all. She asked me to try to talk to her friend's mom and I did and she didn't help the situation at all. She basically ignored me and then I told my daughter to just back off for a while. My daughter is going into middle school and she does have other friends but it seems like there's always so much fighting and mean talk . I have 2 other children and never went through anything this extreme. I just want her to have a good start to middle school. So I guess what I'm asking is, did I give her the right advice by telling her to back off? She was always so stressed with her friend and it just didn't seem like a healthy friendship.
From: Karen, Silver Creek, NY
Honestly, there is no right or wrong in these situations; you know your daughter best and you're the one who can see how the situation is affecting her. But for what it's worth, telling her to back off sounds like something I would have done in a similar situation; giving friendship issues time to resolve on their own is almost always good advice.
You didn't ask if it was a good idea to talk to the other mom, though, and I would not have done that, or recommended doing that. Talking to the mom of a child's friend about their child's behavior that seems to have hurt your child -- well, it's tricky stuff, even if -- or perhaps especially if -- the mom is someone you know independently of the girls' friendship. It's rare that that nets a positive outcome.
In general, it's always better to stay out of friendship spats unless there is something destructive going on. Not only do the issues often resolve on their own after a bit of time, but also we often say things that are meant to be supportive ("I never did like her very much any way!") and then the girls make up and your daughter either throws the statement back at you or feels disloyal or otherwise conflicted for being friends with someone she now know mom doesn't approve of. It's complicated stuff!
This has always been a tough stage of development for girls' friendships. There's even a phrase to describe it: the "Mean & Nasties." And in this day and age of social networking, the nastiness can spread on the web, which also has a name: cyber-bullying. I don't blame you one bit for being worried about middle school friendships. Here's some reading on that subject.
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