Social Blunders: Protecting Your Child's Confidence

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

I had a close friend for years until I found out that she was stirring up trouble and betraying me behind my back. I never confronted her when I found out, but gradually gave her space until we became just casual friends. Ironically, our daughters, 10 and 11 years old, have remained real bosom buddies. Two years ago we moved into our new home, and my daughter was so excited that she invited her best friend to stay overnight. We were informed that her friend could not come unless her younger sister also was invited. I thought that was bordering on the ridiculous, so the girl did not come and my daughter was disappointed. My daughter did not give up, and over the past two years she has been trying to get her best friend to come visit her. Every invitation has been turned down. In that time we have accepted invitations from them for my daughter to spend the day or night at their home.

My daughter's last visit was the worst. Her best friend told her that her mother said that my daughter was not good enough to be her daughter's friend and that she should seek other friends. This has devastated my daughter. I had to comfort and counsel her. Surprisingly, we received an email inviting my daughter to spend the Easter weekend with them. I discussed it with my husband and daughter, and the consensus was that we are no longer interested in the "one way" visits anymore. We answered the email, graciously turning down the invitation. Did we do the right thing? Should we have confronted her concerning her activities of the past?



Dear ozziemer:

Confrontation is too strong a word. Since you have history with this woman, I'd say something like, "You know, Amy is getting so many mixed messages from you and your daughter that she is in 'wonderment,' and so am I." Then you must be courageous enough to ask, "How do we solve this problem?" Be prepared to ask directly whether your former friend prefers not to support a friendship between the two girls.

Let her know that your main concern is protecting your daughter's self-confidence. And leave yourself out of it. (Simple to say but not easy to do, I know.) This isn't the time to hash out your differences with her.

When dealing with your daughter, explain to her that people grow and change. When that happens, their priorities shift. Maybe she has a friend who was special at one time but not later? Whatever you do, don't let her feel at fault for the dissolution of the friendship, and point out to her how she (and you) have tried to make it work with her friend. And get her involved with other activities in which she can meet other kids and form new friendships.

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