When friendships bring unhappiness
- Posted by:
- Michael Grose
Friendships are the stuff of life, but they can also be bewildering when you are young.
Many girls in the 10-15 age group find that friends can cause as much unhappiness as they do happiness.
Teen girls can become very hierarchical when they group together. The leaders who are often bright, attractive and charismatic can wield incredible power over their peers. They set the moral code for the group. Break it and you’re out.
One teen girl described to me how she was ostracised by the girls in a dominant group at her school. Suddenly for a reason she couldn’t explain she was accepted by the group. To maintain her membership she found herself ostracising another girl in the same way she had been. The group had a hold on her behaviour.
As teen girls get so much of their identity from their peers being marginalised in such as way can be incredibly damaging.
As girls get older they do develop the skills of recognising and keeping away from dominant and difficult groups. They are better at assessing what’s happening in groups as they mature.
Parents and teachers can help girls understand the pull of the group, and how to recognise and connect with friends outside of dominant hierarchies. They can also help them stand up for themselves, sticking to their own moral code not the group’s code.
But this does take some courage and maturity.....and at least one other friend to connect with.
Girls’ lives are dominated by friendships. When they fall out they can shut down. Teaching them how to negotiate friendships is an important survival skill.
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