Sense & Sensitivity

Teenager Caught Between Groups of Friends

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is in an uncomfortable situation. She was separated from her core friend group this year at school and has been trying to figure out how to maintain those friendships and bond with the kids in her new classroom.

For Halloween, she ended up splitting her time between the two groups, which was stressful and ultimately backfired. Her core group was mad she spent time with her new classmates, so they shunned her. By trying to be with both of them, she ended up alone at the end of the evening needing to be rescued because her “best” friends left her. The teenage years are tough, I know, but I feel so bad for her. I know I cannot protect her from the challenges that life will bring, but I do want to make sure I empower her to the best of my ability. What do you say in a situation like this? -- Between Friends, Baltimore

DEAR BETWEEN FRIENDS: Being a teenage girl can be devastatingly tough. Girls who are figuring out how to grow up and fully assume their personalities often hurt each other's feelings. What you can do is help your daughter make smart choices about how she spends her time. Splitting time between two groups on the same day is hard to manage. It may be easier for her to spend time with one group on one day and the other on another, especially when the activities are outside of school.

When your daughter’s friends are dismissive of her, that may be a sign they are no longer her best friends. Tell her to notice how her friends behave. If they turn mean and aren’t thoughtful, suggest that your daughter consider turning away from them. Sometimes it is best simply to walk away from people who are mean. As hard as it seems in the moment, it’s about self-preservation. You can remind your daughter that she deserves to be loved and treated with kindness. It may break her heart in the moment to turn away from those who mistreat her, but this may be the step that saves her heart in the end.

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