Previously we talked about as parents: do we have a say in who our children are mixing with? This week we look at – The Challenges of Making Friends.
Friends are an important part of our lives, but do we know enough about our own values and beliefs?
The Challenges of Making Friends
I am no stranger to this topic. I went through a stage with my daughter, where she found making friends a real challenge when she started high school seven years ago. I had a chat with her the other day, and we shared thoughts about friendship and the challenges faced in the school ground.
My daughter is very close to her brother, so she is very good with electronic gadgets, computer games, handball…everything the boys know, she knows as well, even today. So naturally most of her close friends in primary were mostly boys, as she really enjoyed their friendships. I asked her why? She said they are easy going, no fuss, they eat from whatever “substitute” plates they can get their hands on and they are good at their electronic games. But most of all, she said they do not “TALK” about other people behind their back. This is something that she absolutely dislikes.
So when she started high school, it was an all girl school and she was “ill-prepared” for the “girly girly” environment, the “clickiness”, “bitchiness” as the girls tend to form groups and “gossip” about each other. It was such a huge challenge for her. She found her values and beliefs were challenged, her interests were dismissed, and ‘WHO she was’ was questioned by her peers…
By the end of the day, her BELIEF OF HERSELF was truly affecting her self confidence. She started to question herself, her values, her beliefs and most of all WHO she truly was as a person. Whether she had to compromise her own values for the sake of blending in with the majority? Or be herself and be the minority. This brought about tears, health challenges…
Naturally as parents, our first thought is to change schools, and get her to a school where she will be better supported and have friends that are more aligned to her own values. However, because she was in a selective school, she found the academic challenges exciting and was reluctant to compromise on that aspect. So we have to weigh up the pros and cons.
If you were ever in this situation, these are the questions that we need to ask ourselves and talk about with the child:
- Would you like your child to make their own decisions about friendship or would you interfere?
- Is changing school for your child a sign of encouraging them to run away from reality?
When my daughter was in high school I picked her up from the station on purpose most days, so that we could chat about her day…
Fast forward seven years, she is now in University and managed to get into the course she wanted to. So I asked her to look back and wonder whether she had made the right decisions. Whether the decision to stay at that school made her tougher mentally? Whether the decision to stay affirmed that she stays TRUE to her own power of WHO she is and not conform to others’ wishes? Whether she had learned (through the hard way that) by being WHO she really is, she is able to attract the right people into her circle, the people that truly appreciate her.
Learning about oneself through these challenges
This is my daughter’s conclusion (I am so very proud of her!!):
While it was quite a difficult time in terms of finding out who your true friends are and dealing with the gossip, it really made me kind of understand how to deal with conflict in a more proactive way.
At first I tended to shy away from the problems but as it went on you gained more insight into who are the right people to hang around with and who would truly be your friend in about 20 years time. I believe that it was a step that I needed to take in order to grow mentally and become more confident with my abilities as a person. And though nobody really ever wants to go through something like this, it does tend to happen a lot in high schools and it is just about trying to find yourself and gain confidence in who you are as a person, rather than conforming to ideals set up from a group.
So, to all the parents out there, I can only say is, trust your gut instinct, talk to you child, weigh up the pros and cons of whether to interfere or to let your child deal with the situation himself etc.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you experienced this before? If so, how do you deal with this?
Please share your experiences with fellow GoParents.
This is a very important topic, and I am certain there are many parents out there who would be in the same situation. If you would like to talk about this, you can post your questions in Close Facebook Group (will create one depending on feedback) or I can arrange for an online forum, where we can link up and physically talk to each other. What do you think? Let me know by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to your feedback.