Friendships: Should parents get involved?

My sixth grade daughter has been involved with a circle of friends in a small community since kindergarten. One of those friends has been excluded, due to some social problems (she causes trouble among her friends and is a constant attention-seeker). Now this girl's mother has asked me to get involved. Should I force my daughter to be friends with her?

Question:

I understand your feelings. The compassion that you feel for the girl is clear, but it appears that she may have brought this upon herself with her own behavior. People get tired of being around others who are constantly seeking ways to get attention. Friends are supportive of each other and need to maintain a two way street of support. If your child feels that she is not given the attention and support in return for the attention and support that she has provided for this girl over the years, I can see why she might abandon her friendship with this young lady.

At this point, you appear to have been on the outside of this problem. I think it would be a good idea for you to continue to observe without interference and let the kids try to work out the problem themselves.

These things have a way of being blown out of proportion (consider the age), as well as a way of working themselves out. Perhaps the true underlying factor in the change is simply the fact that the kids have changed. As they get older, they find different interests and make new friends. Sometimes friendships that have lasted through elementary school end as youngsters go on to junior high. This may be the true cause of the chasm between your daughter and her (former) friend.

If it would make you feel more proactive, you could subtly remind your daughter of what defines a true friend. Talk to her about your own friendships and what makes them special to you, allowing her to draw parallels between that and her own friendships. Gently remind her of the golden rule and then allow her to do what she chooses to do with the information.

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