Q: My 12-year-old daughter has a new best friend. I hate to say this, but I don’t like her: She’s very extroverted, loud and rude, and I feel she’s a bad influence. How do I handle this?
A: Remember that, at 12, peers are becoming very important, especially to girls. If you openly disapprove of the friend, your daughter will feel like you’re criticizing her directly. Patience and staying connected to your daughter are your best strategies. While peers may be everything to a 12-year-old, this is also a time of flux.
Between 12 and 15, friendships often shift as some girls mature faster than others. Your daughter is just beginning to formulate who she is and what she needs from her friends. Giving her the freedom to form her own opinion of this friend will be a powerful lesson. That does not mean you should sit idly by and do nothing. Continue to impart your values. You can comment on characteristics of her other friends that you do like (“Sally really seemed to enjoy the cake. She told me three times how much she liked it. That was really nice”). Or if your daughter complains about something this friend did or said, help her to tune in to how she feels rather than taking the opportunity to say, “I told you so. I never liked her.”
This is the beginning of a difficult age and stage. I highly recommend the book Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? by Anthony Wolf as a resource.
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