Girl friendships change like the tide: you’re “in” one minute, then “out” the next. The bummer is that these relationships between girls are at best unpredictable and at worst destructive, drawing the sand right out from under her feet. I remember coming home from school several times after confusing and painful interactions with my “friends” and declaring to my mother between hysterical sobs, “My life is literally over.”
Don’t worry, Mama. You got this. Here are four steps that will help you manage life at the water’s edge and keep her eyes on the horizon.
In most cases, sitting alone in her room and stewing over the day’s events rarely make a positive difference. You might be inclined to “give her some space,” but this is a time when it’s better to simply be with her. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, or if she’s not too keen on the idea, too bad. You’re the parent, and the right thing is usually neither popular nor comfortable. You don’t have to say anything. In fact, you can wait in silence for the first several minutes. Just being there can be enough to cancel out some of the amped up hostility toward whatever friend was her friend but isn’t her friend anymore. The key: your presence should be warm and inviting. It should create a calming effect. Breathe deeply and relax. Just be, in the room, a quiet reassurance that someone cares about her.
When you feel ready, speak. Don’t try to excuse or explain the friend’s behavior. Empathize, but remember that, because you weren’t there, you don’t have the whole picture. Instead, guide her gently toward her Father. There are things in this life that we can control, and there are things we can’t. How the people in our lives treat us is one of those things that can’t be controlled, but we can control our reaction and our approach to resolving conflict. “A true friend loves at all times…” (Proverbs 17:17) and, regardless of how she’s been treated, encourage her that love, regardless of the effect, is the answer. She may not believe you right away, and that’s okay. You’re her mom, and it’s your job to tell her the truth.
This is your chance to speak life over your child. There are few better ways to affirm our children than with our own lips; we know them, they are part of us, and our words can restore their hurt and prepare them for action. Pray out loud, so she can hear you. Praise God for the person He created in her. She is loved and worthy of love, despite today’s challenges. Acknowledge that, to move forward, she needs self-control, patience, and compassion to make the right choices, and she cannot do it in her own strength. She needs His help, so ask Him to help her lean into Him for comfort and peace as she deals with this conflict (Unless it’s the weekend, she’s going back to school tomorrow).
"Our words can restore their hurt and prepare them for action. Pray out loud, so she can hear you."Tweet
Okay, great. You sat. You talked. You prayed. You’re done, right? NO. Do not wash your hands of this situation. Stay involved, not because you’re nosy, but because you are committed to her growth as a human being. Once she’s had the opportunity to go back to school, be sure to set aside some time that afternoon or evening to find out how it went. Whether the girls made up or things got worse, encourage her to be loving and kind. In situations like this, I like 1 John 3:18:
"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."Tweet
Remember, her friendships will ebb and flow, like the tide. Standing at the water’s edge, there is no avoiding the waves; they will crash into her, foaming and gurgling against her legs. But if she stands, her feet firmly planted in the hard-packed sand of God’s truth, they will never knock her over.