Tuesday, January 22, 2013
One of the most common things teen girls confess to when asked is feeling lonely. It seems to be all through the teen years, not just at a particular stage.
Girls are so hard wired to have relationship and connection, yet the teen years can be very difficult relationship wise. Often this results in girls feeling lonely. Sometimes it helps just for girls to hear this and realize they are not alone, or "the weird one" for feeling this way.
Another factor girls have said leads to this feeling is being so busy they don't have time to get together with friends much just for fun. We moms are good at making sure our kids have all kinds of opportunities- this is a gentle reminder that even when we don't feel like making it happen, it's important to make sure some friend time occurs too.
Of course there are personalities to consider- girls that need to hone down friend time to learn how to be alone and have some down time too...and girls who love to be alone and don't think of planning friend time may need a little nudge on occasion to do something social. Different personalities require different amounts, but learning balance is always a good skill.
Friendship Pie is a visual I've used with girls who feel like "I have no friends". When forced to really stop and consider honestly, most can come up with one or two people in each category above that they have some sort of friendship with- friends can be at church, in the neighborhood, at school, at their dance lesson, on a sports team, friends of the family, etc.
When options are seen on paper, they realize there are at least a few choices they can go for if they want to invite someone to come over or hang out. It takes a little gumption to reach out, but that's part of life that they'll need to learn. And I always tell girls that the vast majority of people say they only have one or two close friends, so if you have that, you're normal. People can be surrounded by lots of "friends", but most only feel connected closely to a couple.
Another reason for Friendship Pie is discussing the benefits of having more than one friend. Many times girls get obsessed with BFF's and want so badly to have A BEST FRIEND that it becomes consuming. What happens when that friend is gone? goes on vacation? or can't hang out? or gets a new BFF? It's so beneficial to have a few different friends, and friends in different areas of life.
My own daughter told me she found so much help in having a very good friend who was not at her school, but from the neighborhood. She could come home and hang out with someone who wasn't associated at all with the middle school drama she dealt with during the day.
It's helpful to "see" options we have in friendships and to understand benefits of different types of friendships. Girls feel such pressure sometimes from friends to do everything together, or never leave someone out, or not to invite someone new into a group for fear of what others will say, or to never reach out to a new friend for fear of being disappointed.
If they can just get past that, many find relief in having different types of friends- one to see movies with, one to talk deep with, one to ride bikes with, the one who loves to plop on the couch and chill with, one who loves group hang outs.
Often all of those things don't come in one friend. Branch out!