Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teenage Girls and their Friendships and Relationships

One of my favorite resources and websites is A Way Through which offers valuable and educational information about raising your girls today. Recently they posted an excellent article on teenagers and their relationships with their friends. Is it love?

She Broke up with Me

With a sad face and a stream of tears, the student entered my office and said, “She broke up with me.” There was a pause and a heavy sigh followed by, “She was my heart.” I inwardly gasped at the magnitude of emotional intelligence these words carried. Most kids don’t talk like this! Was it teenage angst? Experience with first love lost? No, these were the words of a six-year-old girl. She and her friend had just had a fight.

About 10 years ago, I noticed young elementary school girls used the words “breaking up” when a female friendship was on the rocks. I don’t hear the same words from older girls, so this language is curious to me. I often hear the frustration from groups of girls who want to know what to do, because “we keep breaking up and making up.” They come to my office together with high hopes that their group will stop the cycle of breaking up and making up. The girls are entirely sincere about their worry of estrangement.

I’m encouraged when girls seek help for these breakups, because they really want to get along. They want to remain friends, and wanting that is a very good start toward healing friendships. We talk about behavior patterns, the helpful and hurtful. They tell me all the patterns, and I write them down. The group then identifies their hurtful and helpful patterns. I let them know that patterns can be broken with practice. Who wants to practice positive friendship skills? They all do.

It can take six weeks to break a pattern, but with total effort it can happen in two. When girls are motivated to save friendships, it can happen. Give your daughter or female student(s) the two-week challenge. With their lists of friendship patterns, they can take responsibility for changing their friendship behaviors – the ones that aren’t working for them. There can be fewer breakups, because we all know breaking up is hard to do.

© 2009 A Way Through, LLC

Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at

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