Psychologist urges mom not to worry too much about her teenage daughter — teen friendships change over time.
My 16-year-old daughter is very sweet but sometimes has low self-esteem. Her friendship group seems to be changing as she is being left out by the girls she has been friends with for a very long time. She keeps saying, “I’ve lost so many friends.” Some of it is that these girls seem to want to drink and my daughter is uncomfortable with that.
What bothers me most is she keeps asking them to do things and they keep saying no or making excuses. I wish she would see this just sets her up for disappointments. How can I help her and support her through this? She is already seeing an adolescent therapist.
I asked my colleague, Barbara Greenberg, PhD, an adolescent psychologist to respond to your question. Barbara is the author of Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual and blogs at Talking Teenage.
This is Barbara’s sage advice:
You certainly sound like a thoughtful and loving mother. Your daughter will benefit greatly in life from having a mom who both supports her and is attuned to her feelings. What your daughter is going through is not at all unusual for this age group. It is nonetheless really painful to watch your child suffer.
Since your daughter is opening up to you about what is going on in her life you may want to suggest to her that these girls want to hang around with peers who drink. They may experience her as disapproving of their behavior and that may be why they are avoiding her. If that is the case-well then you should pat yourself on the back for having raised a young woman who is able to withstand peer pressure. This is not an easy task particularly for a teen with low self-esteem. Is it possible that your daughter’s self-esteem is better than you think? A teen with very low self-esteem would likely do anything to maintain friendships including engaging in behavior that she is not comfortable with.
Perhaps you can suggest to your daughter that she join some activities where she might meet some new and like-minded friends. I would definitely avoid devaluing the “drinkers.” Teens change over time and these girls might turn into lovely young women at some point in time. You can say exactly that to your daughter. First, validate that it stinks to be excluded but then explain to her that these girls, like your daughter, may make some wonderful changes over time. So, while you don’t want her to chase after them to no avail at this point — she also doesn’t need to ignore or tune them out completely.
What she really needs to do is to make some new friends. And, teach her to ask herself the question “Do I feel good about myself when I’m around this person?” as a way of taking the temperature of a friendship.
Good luck and keep loving her.
Other posts on The Friendship Blog about teen friendships:
- A teen asks: Why are friendships so fleeting?
- Teen daughter with not one close friend
- Painful teen friendship: What’s a mom to do?
Category: Teen friendships