• Other Friendship Advice

Mom worries about her daughter’s friendships

Published: April 30, 2014 | Last Updated: April 30, 2014 By | Reply Continue Reading
If you are concerned about your daughter’s friendships, the best course may be to allow her to talk about them.



My 12-year-daughter seems to make “friends” easily at school and at after school activities but they never develop into close relationships. I have to prompt her to ask other girls to come over or make plans to do something. Is this normal?

I think it does bother her that she doesn’t have a BFF. Currently, there are two other girls in her class that she is friendly with at school and infrequently (once every couple of months) outside of school. The other two girls do things without my daughter weekly. She
says they invite her but she declines or that is just what she is telling me. I think she knows I am concerned and doesn’t want me to worry.

Last year her closest friend dropped her for another girl very abruptly. The friend that dropped her was the daughter of a close friend of mine. The incident caused us to stop being friends. I was not very surprised that their friendship didn’t last (they were friends since age two because of my friendship with the other mom) because the girls personalities were differing as they grew up. However, the abruptness of the break was shocking and definitely affected my daughter. It was akin to a romantic breakup where you are left asking why?

Any insights are appreciated.

Signed, Mom of a 12-year-old


Dear Mom of a 12-year-old,

When I first read your letter, I wondered if your daughter was feeling any distress over her friendships or social life, or if perhaps she was satisfied and possibly you’re concerned because her social comfort level is different than yours was at her age. Either way, I’m glad you wrote.

Continuing to keep the lines of communication open, without judging or putting your own expectations on her will be helpful moving forward. You seem sensitive to her needs. There was nothing about your letter than jumped out at me as a major cause for worry, but you’re right to be proactive.

Your insight—that a friend breakup can feel like a romantic breakup in many ways— is spot on. In some cases, the end of a friendship can be even worse if one ex-friend convinces others to isolate the other girl. Research has shown mean-girl behavior typically peaks during middle school.

The concept that every girl has perfect relationship with a BFF is one perpetuated by the entertainment industry. Some girls just prefer to socialize in groups, others have several close friends, some kids are more comfortable being loners. Some girls have drama-filled relationships, breaking and making up with best friends.

When your daughter said her two friends always ask her to join them, did she mention why she declines? They wouldn’t invite her if they didn’t enjoy her company though three-way friendships can sometimes feel difficult because of the tendency to break into pairs.

If she feels like a third-wheel when she’s with them, spending more time together might help lessen those feelings. She may just have been less interested in these type of outings.

However, if your daughter is experiencing sleeplessness or is sleeping too much, has lost her appetite or overeats, appears withdrawn, unusually sad or angry—or if she isolates, is having problems with concentration and/or school and if these symptoms last more than few weeks, she might benefit from seeing a professional therapist.

In the meanwhile, occasionally continue to suggest she invite friends to socialize. When you talk to her, ask her questions in a way that expresses curiosity about her social style rather than expressing concern where she might feel like she has to “protect you”. Ask open-ended questions like, “Tell me about…,” rather than ones requiring a yes or no answer. Ask her about her ideal scenarios with her two closest friends or in general, “If you could have the friendship anyway you wanted, how often would you hang out with your friends on the weekends? What would you guys do? What would be different than it is now?” Be more of a listener than a talker, and if your daughter seems happy, avoid placing your own experiences and expectations onto her.

Hope this helps.

Signed, *Amy Feld

*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

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Category: Helping children deal with friendship problems

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