As my first born gets older, and I find myself watching her try to navigate the treacherous waters of ‘girl friendships’, i know how important it is to make sure that i provide her with the tools she needs to make out alive… (okay, okay, maybe a little dramatic, but…) While friendship in its truest form is a beautiful things, truth is, young girls can be mean. They can go from ‘best friend’ to ‘worst enemies’ in the blink of an eye, and can say and do the most hurtful things in those moments. I know i felt it when i was growing up, and, to be fair, i probably caused someone else pain too, even if it was unintentionally. I’m not going to lie, it hurt…
Some lessons hurt more than others, though, and seeing my daughter suffer in the past, at previous schools (when the language was still a problem for her) was very difficult for me. I had hoped that she would be ‘spared’… lol! Yes, a very unrealistic ‘hope’. Unfortunately, the ups and down of adolescent friendship are just a part of life! One day you’re a quiet little caterpillar, the next, your a social butterfly…
While she’s enjoying a relatively calm period in her ‘social universe’, happily fluttering around with all her friends, there are a few things i’d like to share with my daughter.
1. Be proud of your patterns, and don’t change them to suit other people – Regardless of whether you’re a ‘quiet caterpillar’ or a ‘social butterfly’, be proud of who you are. Be proud of all those little things that make you ‘you’. A true friend is going to love you the way you are, and is not going to ask you to change.
2. Friends can build you up or break you down – Some butterflies can carry up to 50 times their own weight. Use your strength to build up your friends, and expect the same back from those friends. If they don’t return the love and consideration, walk (or fly) away. If your ‘friends’ are purposefully doing things to hurt your feelings, then they’re not true friends!
3. Even the strongest butterfly needs a chance to rest their wings – I know that teenage friendships are Super Important, and that you Absolutely Have To see your friends every. single. day… but there does come a point where ‘too much of a good thing…’ You (and your friends) need to have time to yourselves, to spend time with the family, to do schoolwork, to relax, and to explore your own individual interests.
4. Sometimes a moth makes a way better friend – It’s easy to get swept up in what all your friends are saying, but true friendship goes a lot deeper than ‘looks’ or the ‘cool factor’. Don’t discount somebody just because they don’t have the right ‘image’, get to know them for who they are and make a decision based on that.
5. You don’t NEED to be friends with every single butterfly (or every single caterpillar either, for that matter) – It would be great if everyone was friends with everyone else. But that’s just not realistic. Not everybody has the same type of personalities, values or priorities, and that’s just fine. That’s what makes the world interesting! Don’t take it personally if there is someone that ‘doesn’t like you’ – you’re just different types of people. And it’s also okay if there’s someone that you don’t want to be friends with – as long as you’re not intentionally mean or hurtful about it.
6. Your wings are beautiful, and so are your friend’s – True friendship is not about competition. There are going to be some times where you shine the most brightly, and your friend is there to encourage you, and other times where your friend is the star of the show, and it’s your job to be her loudest supporter. Learn to work together, and celebrate each other’s strong points, instead of being jealous.
7. ‘Friendship’ is a delicate thing – As with the best things in life, friendships need to be nurtured and cherished if they are going to survive and flourish. Spend quality time together, doing things that mean something to the both of you, and be sure to show your friend the appreciation you have for her. Nobody likes to feel taken for granted, and a heartfelt, ‘Thank you for being you, i really appreciate you,” can mean the world to someone.
8. We all need space to breathe – If you stick a butterfly, or any living thing for that matter, in a glass bottle, and forget to poke holes in the top, it’s going to die. Friendships are the same. We need space to breathe, to move and to do our own things. If you try and keep one friend bottled up, and ‘all for yourself’, that friend is going to start feeling suffocated. Respect your friends’ space and privacy, and expect them to respect yours too.
Remember, these years aren’t easy. School pressures, first love, puberty, and family stress can all weigh on a young person’s mind. While i’d love to be ‘the only one that my daughter needs’, having friends around can make the twists and turns just a little bit more manageable.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post.
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