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As an adult, I recognize the importance of maintaining friendships. But I watch my 16-year-old daughter and her friends and can't help but be concerned about the nastiness and two-faced behavior. Is there anything I can do to step in and stop it before someone is hurt?


Stephen Hopson Replied: I have two suggestions and you could use one or both. A. Let me start with a question: How is your relationship with your daughter? Are you two communicating? Is there a level of trust and understanding? If so, one suggestion is to sit down with her and ask her what she thinks of the current climate in which she is engulfed is like. By asking her, you are opening the way for communication to flow. She is telling you her thoughts. You're not telling her yours - yet. Ask how she feels about the two-faced situation playing out. If you two have a communication link established, she will tell you her true feelings. I know how teenagers can sometimes be guarded and not tell the parent much of anything. That's how I was when I was a teen. I was a bit rebellious so I didn't tell my parents much of anything. But start by asking about how she feels. Make her that her viewpoints are valuable - regardless of whether you think they're right or wrong. If you two have an open relationship to the point where you can share thoughts without judgment, then chances are you will be able to share your viewpoints as well. 2. If you and your daughter do not have a close relationship and it's hard for the two of you to communicate, you might just have to let her experience things for herself and let her know you're there to talk to if she needs it. That's probably the hardest thing a parent can do because they want to step in and stop their children from being hurt but sometimes going through the experience themselves is actually the best lesson. An example of this would be when I was a senior in high school. I had wanted very badly to make the swimming finals. I was not a "hot dog" (a term to describe the fast, record-breaking swimmers) but I worked hard, and made steady improvements. I had gotten an idea and shaved my head like the swimmers in the Olympics. While my mother didn't exactly approve, she didn't try to stop me either. She knew that I had to go through the experience of giving something a try and so I went to the championships. And disaster struck. I hit my head on the wall of the pool and did not make the finals. That was my first experience of "bitter" defeat. She wanted to protect me from having that experience but in retrospect, it was the best lesson of my life and I don't regret it. Sometimes all we can do is let our kids experience life the way it is and let them learn on their own with you standing by for help if they want it. Not an easy choice. But that's one option. One last thing is you could share some of your own stories when you were young and how the two-faced situations impacted you. This is, of course, if you have an open communication relationship where both of you will listen to one another with love, respect and honor.
Posted On 2008-06-02 10:05:51
Maggie Macaulay Replied:
Posted On 2008-03-16 23:15:45
Elinor Robin, PhD Replied: Girls, girls, girls. The transition from child to adult is probably one of life's biggest challenges. As a parent it's often hard to watch. It seems that when boys act out the feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that they face as adolescents physical violence is often involved. For girls the expression of these feelings more typically comes with back biting nastiness and verbal hostility. Your daughter is practicing relationships. What she learns now will serve her in her adult life. Your daughter and the other girls will figure out that this interaction pattern does not work. But, they have to figure it out on their own. You can step in and tell your own stories. You can voice your concerns - in a general manner. You can speak to the other mothers, without pointing fingers. But, do not interfere directly unless you fear for someone's physical safety. Sadly, the behavior you are observing is a normal part of growing up.
Posted On 2008-03-16 17:50:03
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