Navigating the Rough Waters of Girlhood Friendship: Suggestions for Smooth Sailing

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 navigating the rough waters of girlhood friendship

Navigating adult friendship is hard, but steering one’s way through the tumultuous times of girlhood friendship?  It can be harrowing!  Honestly, it's a miracle that I’m still alive to tell about it!

It's no secret that friendship - at any age - can be a spring of immense joy; but also, it can be a source of terrible pain.

And while, like us, our daughters must find their own way along the friendship journey, my prayer is that we will pass along every gem of wisdom we’ve gleaned as guidance to make the path a little less painful and a lot more joy-filled.

Here are a few of the discussions my daughter and I have shared over the last couple of years:

Feeling left out? Reach out.

First, it is normal to feel left out, so don’t think that you’re weird for feeling this way. Most of your friends have felt, are feeling, or will feel this way, too.

Second, making friends means putting yourself out there. Sometimes, you have to be the one to organize the sleepover or the trip to the park or the bike ride.

Your new friends will thank you for “breaking the ice” and reaching out; and if they don’t become new friends? That’s okay, too.  You are not going to connect with everyone.

Recognize {and replace} feelings of jealousy.

If you’re friends with more than one person (and hopefully you are), then there may be times when you’ll want to spend one-on-one time with a girlfriend.  Great!  In fact, that is awesome because you’ll probably get to know her on a deeper level by spending time alone.

However, keep in mind that your friends may do the same thing.  For example, two of your friends may get together without you

When this happens, you may feel a little jealous — even hurt — that you didn’t get invited.  Simply recognize the jealousy and choose to replace it with excitement for your friends.  Choose to be happy for them because they’re getting an opportunity to know each other better.  Choose to thank God for the friendship you have with each of them, and pray that He strengthens their bond, too.

Note that these won’t be easy choices, but they are choices you can and should make because good friends hope and pray only the best for one another.

Seek God in times of loneliness.

You may go through seasons of loneliness.  This is normal. For whatever reason (a move, a schedule change, a divorce, etc.) there may be a period of time when you are unable to connect with your friends.  Use the time to develop a deeper friendship with God, and talk to Him about your loneliness.

Avoid friendship labels.

Using terms such as “BFF” or “bestie” is trendy, but I contend that it can be inadvertently harmful to existing and/or potential friendships.  I suggest to my daughter that when referring to a friend she use phrases such as “close friend” or “one of my good friends.”

I’ve written about why I don’t think we should have “best” friends, and my daughter, age 12, recently expressed how this advice encouraged her to widen her circle of close friends as opposed to excluding everyone else and putting pressure on only one person to be her “best” friend.

Be friendly with everyone, but share your heart with few.

Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and love — even those people with whom we would never share our deepest secrets.

However, not everyone deserves to hear our most intimate thoughts.  We must be wise in choosing our closest friends, and not everyone can be trusted with our innermost feelings and ideas.

Don’t talk negatively about others.

Recently, my daughter received a text with the ever-ominous question: Do you like her? in reference to an acquaintance they both knew.  Even though the particular girl in question has posed a bit of a struggle for my daughter, she wisely responded: Yes, she is my friend.  This response shut the door to negative gossip that could have ensued.

We must encourage our daughters to avoid negative discussion about others, even if the discussion may seem warranted. And we should equip them with tools to end conversations that begin to go down a negative road.

These are just a few of the lessons I’ve passed along to my daughter.  What advice do you have to share with young girls today who are in the midst of navigating their way through girlhood friendship journeys?

Looking forward to hearing your counsel,

Rhonda