A friend of mine was telling me about a problem his daughter’s facing and I’m rather stymied as to what she can do to improve the situation too. Apparently she’s tight with another girl who is nice, attentive and a long-time friend, but has a bit of a temper, and when they’re together, all too often the other girl decides what they’ll do and dismisses my friend’s daughter’s views and opinions. She is not thrilled about this and finds it more and more troubling.
My immediate response is: bail. Just stop hanging out with the girl entirely. The problem is, I am informed, the girls do really like each other and my friend’s girl doesn’t want to give up this other girl as a friend.
Alright, then, just see her less, or, better, tell her what’s bugging you (we Boulder folk refere to this, of course, as “speak your truth”). Tell her that you feel it’s too often her calling the shots and you having to just go along even if it’s not what you want to do.
That’s probably good advice, but as I was told quite bluntly, that’s an adult way to deal with things and – probably – a male way to deal with things too. Teen girls, I’m informed from my friend and my own daughter, are way more circumspect and tiptoe around these sort of things rather than grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns as I am wont to do.
So apparently I don’t have any useful advice for my friend to share with his girl, nor does he have any good advice for his daughter either. We both have that same “just say what’s happening and let the chips fall” attitude that’s just not in sync with how teen girls think.
Now teen boys, well, when I was a teen I had some friendships that were variously cool and awkward, and I think my basic strategy was avoidance, now that I think about it. Seems a bit cowardly now, but unlike adulthood, in childhood you’re really stuck seeing that other person every single day whether you’re happy with each other or snarky and tense. So, kinda awkward to accuse them of being less than fabulous or even to intimate it with a poorly phrased sentence or two. Plus it’s the baby and bathwater problem: we hung out a lot and most of the time it was totally fun and cool. Just sometimes it wasn’t. Awkward indeed.
There’s another factor at play too, from what my friend tells me: he has multiple kids, whereas this other girl is an only child to parents who work quite a bit. So my expectation is that the girl is rather lonely and hungry for someone to pay attention to her. Not an excuse, of course, but in terms of understanding what’s going on inside, perhaps useful.
What should this girl do? If my daughter gets into this situation, what should she do to smoothly improve the interpersonal situation or gently turn towards another friend, hopefully without hurting the girl’s feelings too much?
Sometimes being a single dad means saying “help!” to the women in my life, and if I can help out my friend, that’d be a nice thing. So… HELP!