Just those two words are enough to make every mother of daughters roll her eyes, turn her face heavenward and ask “Why?”
In my opinion, there’s little worse in a tween or teen girl’s life than drama created by them and their friends. Too often, the drama starts over something small. But because teen and tween girls aren’t the best at setting aside hurt feelings and dealing with the issue, it often escalates into a friendship-killing scene.
Helping our daughters learn to deal with the drama, helping them learn to navigate the conflicts of friendship without creating friendship-killing drama is hard. When feelings are hurt, tempers get in the way. Things get said that people don’t really mean. But once the words are out there, they can’t take them back.
My older daughter is navigating through some tough waters with a friend right now. Things have been a little rocky for a while, but yesterday they blew up. My daughter came home hurt and frustrated by some words that were said. We spent some time talking about the situation. As we were talking, I began thinking about how we as moms deal with girl drama.
Too often, I think, our tendency is to simply brush it off as a part of growing up. We choose not to give our daughters the tools they need to navigate through the conflict and instead tell our daughters to ignore it. We watch as our daughters’ friendships fall apart simply because they don’t know how to walk through the conflict and still come out as friends on the other side.
As I thought about it and talked with my daughter about it, I realized that now is the perfect time to teach our daughters how to face conflict. It’s the perfect time to teach them that while there are times to walk away, there are other times when a friendship is worth fighting for. There are times when it’s better to face the conflict than it is to watch things blow up.
So, here’s the advice I think we should be giving our daughters:
1. Pray about it. Pray with your daughter and for her. Ask God to show her the right way to handle the situation.
2. Identify the problem. Sometimes the true problem is buried in the hurt feelings and the drama. Help your daughter identify exactly what it is that she’s upset about. Help her determine the root of the issue.
3. Own your part of the issue. Rarely is girl drama all about what one person has done. Most of the time, both girls have some part in the problem. Help your daughter see where she’s contributed to the problem and identify ways that she can change on her end.
4. Decide the best way to talk to the friend. Sometimes the girls can work it out on their own, but other times they need a little adult help. I’ve discovered that having a mom get involved as a facilitator of the conversation sometimes works, but a better option is often a youth pastor, small group leader or other trusted adult — someone that both girls trust but who has no vested interest on either side.
5. Talk out the problem using “I feel” statements and specific examples. Set the ground rules before they start. Explain that no one gets to accuse the other person. They can talk about how certain actions make them feel, but they can’t use statements like “You always” or “You never.”
6. Issue apologies. When both girls understand how they have hurt the other, they need to apologize for their actions. They need to acknowledge the hurt they have caused and take responsibility for it.
7. Leave the discussion with specific action steps for both girls. Everyone needs to walk away with a tangible action they can take to restore the friendship.
Girl drama isn’t fun. It’s not fun for the girls dealing with it, and it’s not fun for the parents dealing with those girls. But girl drama can be an opportunity to teach our daughters how to navigate through conflict. It can be a great teaching tool to give them skills that will help them through conflict for the rest of their lives.