not talking to you
March 6, 2013 3:14 AM   Subscribe

Our nine-year-old girl is in the midst of a bust up with her BFF and she's taking it really hard. This is our first nine year old and our first bust up, how can we help her get over it or help her understand what's happening?

This is out of the blue - last week everything was fine. Not sure but this has possibly stemmed from daughter being invited to join the school orchestra - first practice was Monday. Also daughter has a new puppy - BFF isn't allowed a pet. Both kids are very bright, and have been fast and firm friends since grade two.

Another factor could be that daughter has been told not to organise her own play dates, there has possibly been miscommunication around this. We get on well with BFFs parents, but have yet to chat to them.

I don't want to explain this in terms of jealously.
posted by mattoxic to Human Relations (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Our daughter got a lot out of the Smart Girl's Guide to Friendship Troubles around that age, but that might be more useful after the current situation has resolved itself.
posted by crocomancer at 3:27 AM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd tell her that it sucks. It's confusing, it happens to adults too, and that if she listens carefully to what her friend is saying, she might hear that her friend is in pain. And she is acting that way because of that.

And that maybe, if your daughter can sort of see that, that they can be friends again... if they both want that. That all friends argue. And best friends can, and do, make up.

Then take her out for a milkshake and give her HUGE hugs.
posted by taff at 3:35 AM on March 6, 2013 [8 favorites]

Girls are sociaized to talk more about each other than to each other. This is a great opportunity to teach your daughter not to guess and make assumptions about other people's motives but to communicate directly. "hey what's up with the silent treatment? I miss my bff!" She may not get the answer she wants but this way she's handed the "why" question back to the bff to answer instead of ruminating over what she could have done wrong to cause the other person's behavior.
posted by headnsouth at 3:42 AM on March 6, 2013 [15 favorites]

... she's taking it really hard.

Because it is hard. Friends stop being friends. Relationships break-up. Marriages fail. This is life. Your whole life. Support her the best you can but don't force anything. If she and the other kid are really "fast and firm" friends, they will find a way back to each other on their own without you doing anything at all.
posted by three blind mice at 3:49 AM on March 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Unless it's causing continuing upset and problems or she asks for help, I'd honestly pretend not to be aware of it.
posted by Segundus at 3:54 AM on March 6, 2013

mattoxic: Another factor could be that daughter has been told not to organise her own play dates, there has possibly been miscommunication around this.

I'm not sure I understand this part, but I would add to the folks advocating some patience.

Friendships have dramatic ebbs and flows at that age, and it's OK for them to go through some tough times. Listen to your daughter, empathize with her, maybe relate a story of your own friend struggles (with a happy ending), but don't try too hard to fix it, or make her fix it.

Maybe take your daughter out for a special treat, just daddy/daughter or mommy/daughter with no other kids. Does she have close family around her age that you can spend some time with?

If the dispute continues, maybe try and find other friends for her to get together with, especially if they are from a totally different social circle (summer camp, extracurricular activities, neighborhood).
posted by Rock Steady at 5:39 AM on March 6, 2013

So there's a real possibility that the friend thinks your daughter is shunning her because she used to take the initiative and organize fun stuff but there is a new rule and she is no longer allowed to invite her friends over?

Talk to the friend's parents and resolve any miscommunication about your potentially confusing new rule and then go out of your way to set up a really fun play date or two.
posted by steinwald at 6:07 AM on March 6, 2013 [8 favorites]

Speaking as a former 9-year-old girl who had fall-outs with school friends, I can vouch for the "parents setting up play dates" approach, even if they're currently on poor terms - at least in my case, while we sulked for the first half hour or so, by the end of the date we were playing together, and by the end of the second one we'd forgotten why we weren't speaking in the first place. Or at least I had.
posted by pammeke at 6:16 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

9 is a sensitive and hard age. The tweens are kicking in and there's lots of DRAMAZ over all kinds of things.

I'd call the other kid's parent on the QT to discuss. See what the other side of the story is.

I'd also encourage your daughter to hang out with other kids while she's on the outs with her BFF. Ask a new kid to come over, maybe someone she's meeting in orchestra.

You should also talk about how relationships work and how sometimes people get angry and act weird and hurtful. Talk about forgiveness and understanding. Talk about the possibility that after awhile, her friend might want to be friends again.

What you don't want is a dynamic where BFF is rallying folks to her and your child is being left out of things.

Also, why are you leaving jealousy out of the discussion? It may be a factor and while it's super-ugly to say, "You're just acting like this because you're jealous," sometimes, it's true, and we have to navigate envy in the real world too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:32 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another factor could be that daughter has been told not to organise her own play dates, there has possibly been miscommunication around this.

I don't understand what this means. To me, it reads like you have told your daughter not to form her own friendships.

That probably isn't what you meant, I hope; but whatever it is you did mean, be sure to communicate it more clearly to her than you have to us. I was myself a socially anxious child, and the rules my parents put on me made this worse (especially because they were more restrictive than most of my friends had, so I was forever trying to get friends not to ask for things I couldn't do; it was pretty awkward to have to refuse due to parental rules). That was bad enough; it was worse when I couldn't even guess how my parents would react to a social request.
posted by nat at 7:46 AM on March 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

It may just blow over on its own, at that age. Conspiring with their parents to get them together would probably help.

Keep in mind that kids have their own kind of things to argue about, so you may never know or understand exactly what the deal is. My BFF and I had exactly one big fight as kids, when we were 7 or 8.... it was over a dandelion chain. I do not know how you have a big fight over a dandelion chain any more, but we did it. I'm pretty sure our parents were responsible for getting us back into the same room (and/or backyard) and since we are still BFFs 20 years later, I guess it worked!
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:05 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: she is no longer allowed to invite her friends over?

She is allowed to invite her friends over - but ask first rather than surprising mum at pickup time.
posted by mattoxic at 2:00 PM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think you should call the friend's parents and ask them what's up. Not volunteer a lot of info; just ask, for starters; and ask the to invite the girl over, see what they say.

I know my mom interfered a few times in my elementary school relationship bust-ups and it was good she did. I have some of those friends still.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:52 PM on March 6, 2013

Anecdata: so my daughter is coincidentally having friendship trouble. I bought the book after reading this thread. Daughter reads book, tells me nonchalantly the next day, "I fixed everything with Rebecca." So thanks, crocomancer.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:58 PM on March 9, 2013

Pretty sure I heard about that book on AskMe, so I'm glad it's been helpful to someone else.
posted by crocomancer at 8:22 AM on March 11, 2013

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