Our son is 17 and our daughter is 15 and they are wonderful kids. Not long ago, our little girl actually asked us for advice on how to keep friends. I guess she has been having a hard time with her friends and they have been fighting a lot. She’s been strong enough to be able to deal with the bullying, but just hasn’t been great with keeping the people closest to her throughout it all. And I feel awful that I have no concrete ways to help her. After we told her that she should smile, hold her head up and keep a stiff upper lip it was like we were out of ideas.
We’d be grateful if you had a few more thoughts that we could share with her. Thank you.
Signed: Why Can’t She Keep Her Friends?
Dear Why Can’t She
There are always several sides to every story and I imagine that this one is no different. Although you told me and our readers that she has been bullied and that you offered her some advice that included holding her head up and keeping a stiff upper lip, getting through what she seems to be getting through, is multi faceted and can be incredibly challenging for anyone – especially for a young 15 year old girl.
Barbara Coloroso addresses this matter in her book called The Bully, The Bullied and The Bystander. She writes that there are many ways to keep a friend, including the following top five ideas beginning with showing kindness, sticking up for each other, being supportive, being honest and knowing when to say you are sorry. The chapter goes on to say that accepting pain and hurt and sharing your true feelings and thoughts matter a great deal, as does keeping promises and making an effort to ensure that the relationship is alive and prospering. Additionally, teach her not to try to change her friends and how they act. They came into the friendship being who they are. If she (or anyone else listening to this right now) feels that her needs have changed, don’t try to turn people into someone or something they are not, rather consider making new friends who do fit within the perimeters of her needs. Finally, remember the Golden Rule. Be sure that she understands that friendship is a two way street and that, as is the case in any relationship, she should always treat people the way that she would like to be treated.
Like anything in life that is as subjective as it is random, finding, making and keeping friends takes work to make it real. The efforts should never stop and the honor and attention being a good friend requires, deserves time and energy in order to see it thrive and mature.
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