“I don’t understand all the girl drama when it comes to friends. If guys don’t want to be good friends anymore, we just reduce things to a ‘Hey.’ ‘Hey.’ And that’s it. Girls? Way more complicated.”
That keen observation about boy-girl differences came from my 13-year-old son over breakfast recently.
This year at summer camp launched what’s officially become The Era of Girl Drama for my 10-year old daughter. And, like my son, I often feel ill-equipped to deal with it.
Someone who was my daughter’s best friend last month, last week – or even in the last few minutes – can suddenly be on the outs. Sometimes, it’s short lived; other times, the relationships never seem quite the same.
I decided to do what any tech-savvy dad would do. I Googled “girl drama.” The first page of results included an article from author Nancy Rue, who penned a series of fictional books starring tween girls named Lily and Sophie, which my daughter is in the process of mowing through.
Beyond simply being a listening ear (which, alone, is huge), one helpful piece of advice Rue offered was to paint a picture of what a good friendship looks like. So, one Saturday morning, my daughter and I sat on our living room couch and I got out a piece of paper and drew a line down the center of the page. We made two lists. We titled the left side “Fabulous Friends” and the right side “Stinky Friends.” (It was her idea.)
Then, I asked her to tell me what behaviors make for a fabulous friend. We came up with some attributes: honest, trustworthy, stand up for you, encourage you, loyal, forgiving and loving. Behaviors of a stinky friend: lying, not being there for you, saying mean things, making fun of you, not being supportive, not taking you seriously and holding grudges. After going through our two lists, I think it helped create an image of what good friends, and unreliable friends, look like.
I also shared with her that I had some friends come and go during my school years. What typically happened in my life was that when one fractured friendship ended, new friendships – with people I had more in common with – often developed in their place. Despite some pain along the way, I think my daughter has already seen that play out in her own life this school year.
Sadly, I think there will be plenty more girl drama in the coming years as my wife and I help my little girl tackle middle school … and then high school. It turns out that “girl drama” is a big enough topic for us dads to navigate that it rates an entire chapter in Rue’s recent book, What Happened to My Little Girl? Dad’s Ultimate Guide to His Tween Daughter. There are good ideas there, but I’d like to hear from you.
If “Hey” and a head-nod don’t quite cut it, how have you been able to help your daughter manage the “girl drama” she encounters?