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FearsomeFeralFreak

navigating teen friendship issues

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FearsomeFeralFreak

We sent my daughter to a different high school than the local one for a couple of reasons - it performs very well academically, was selective and she got in; the local school is only about 35% girls; and importantly - we wanted to move her away from some friends we were concerned about.

All has gone well in the new school, she has made some great friends. Her primary school friends have, as suspected, gone off the rails spectacularly. At 12 they are drinking alcohol, vaping, sneaking out at night, running  instagram accounts with pictures of them dressed and behaving in some shocking and disturbing ways. Incredibly shocking because they are still only 12. I know enough about the parents to know they are aware of a lot of this.

I can tell my daughter (despite her protests) finds these kids and their lives exciting. Wants to hang with them, still considers them her besties. Feels she has been 'left behind'. Frankly, is in awe of their rebellion and what she sees as a more grown-up exciting life. She wants to impress them. Luckily she is kept busy with dance and sport and music that she doesn't have a lot of time to spend with them but they chat online all the time

She says all the right things to me (disapproval of the bent-over g-string shots, disapproval of the drinking) but I have no doubt that spending time with them will result in her doing things that 12 and 13 years olds shouldn't be doing. She isn't a kid with a lot of self-confidence or a strong personality.


I feel like I am trying to walk a tightrope -keeping the lines of communication open with her, keeping her from making unsafe choices, but allowing her to have some autonomy over her friendships. Sleepovers with any of them have been banned and she knows why. I don't want to ban the friendships, as she has done nothing wrong and the girls have been friends with her for years. And I'm sure they will sort themselves out eventually - but at the moment...

Just wondered how other people would handle this?

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Silvers

Wow - I would also hate my DD to be hanging out with this type of crowd.   I would refrain from commenting too much on the friends antics  as this may have the opposite effect.    My DD also had a similar friend in primary school who had a very strong personality and pushed the boundaries whenever she could.  I could see my DD was fascinated by her and was bending over backwards to be part of her circle.  I just encouraged her to invite other friends over and made excuses why she couldn't spend a lot of time with her outside school.  I found if I made any disapproving comments my DD would become very defensive so I stopped mentioning this girl altogether.

They are now at the same high school and whilst they follow each other on Instagram etc, the friendship has fizzled out and DD has made some lovely friendships with like minded girls.  

 

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No Drama Please

I would handle it the same way you have so far; move schools and keeping her busy with lots of other activities.  Try and build up friendships with people who have the same interests as her.  12 year old girls going out drinking and placing themselves in vulnerable situations, such as having photographs of themselves available to be accessed by anybody is extremely upsetting and worrying.  I would be keeping the lines of communication open with your daughter and try to ensure that you reinforce how upsetting it is that they are in this situation and how you'd love to help out if she notices a problem.  Then instead of making them "forbidden fruit" you are creating an environment where she can recognise it's unhealthy behaviour and you are both concerned about them and acting as a team.  I might see how it went but think about allowing sleepovers (one at a time) at my house only to see if I can help them because it sounds like they are getting themselves into extremely dangerous situations at a very early age.   

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DQMission

My experience is with my male child so I dont know how much gender roles play into the mix, but here is what happened with us.

My child, then in grade 6/yr 7 had a group of friends who seemed similar, parents who were happy free ranging and kids who were happy to run with it. Roaming the streets, trying to get into bulidings after hours, climbing on to rooftops, smoking and dirnking etc. My child had good values but due to personal issues struggled with the confidence to go against the pack, so would get swept up in behaviour he knew was wrong.

High school came and a handful of these same kids stayed in touch with greater freedom (and  like your child, mine saw fun and excitement rather than wrongdoing and risk). I tried a few different things. Bans on friendships rarely work and can also cause kids behaviours to become more hidden, which I wanted to avoid. I tried making suggestions about only one friend at a time come to our home to hang out. It sometimes worked but my child still felt they were missing out. We had talked many times about the things they were doing and why they were bad choices with my child making all the right noises. He would assure me that he wouldnt go along with the pack etc. In the end I made the call that he could hang out with his friends but on the condition that he wouldnt go along with them when they were doing something he knew wasnt ok. He agreed the natural consequence was to not be allowed to hang out with them for  set time period after which he could try again. It really took the fun out of it for him. He had no one to blame when things went pear shaped (and they did a couple of times) and it made hanging out with them feel like a liability. The friendships came to natural conclusion after he decided it wasnt worth the angst. 

 

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Tinky Winky Woo

Flip the narative by not commenting about the friends but asking her how she feels about them.  Leading with telling her she is entitled to an opinion, even if she does not share the same as you, and tell her you want to know her 'real' thoughts about them.  If she says she feels left behind address why she feels like that.  Use questions that allow her to be honest, without judegment from your BUT explain to her that she is only young once and to enjoy being the age she is because she is going to have so much to look forward too and if it is all done by 13 then life is going to be very long and boring with nothing new.  Explain to her that dressing in certain ways does not make her genuinely attractive to other people and the attention that that brings is not lasting and can end up abusive.  Also show her - if possible, how that kind of photo on social media spreads like wildfire and that employers often google future employees to see what they have done.  

But be open, perhaps get her into someone who might be able to speak to her and assist her to develop confidence and resilience.

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