Monday, December 12, 2011

What Do Adults Know About Teen Friendships?!

What Do Adults Know About Teen Friendships?!
I’ll answer that question in two small words.  A lot. 
Don’t forget.  We lived through it already.  We survived that time, and, if we’re willing to talk about it, teens should take advantage. 
One exercise in junior high school helped me a lot, and I’d like to share this experience.  I went to a small Christian school, and in eighth grade I got mixed up with a girl who might not have been a great friend.  Apparently, it was obvious to adults, but I was clueless.
I don’t remember the lesson that day.  I just remember the exercise itself and the aftermath.  We were talking about peer pressure, and Mrs. S asked for two volunteers.  Lots of kids threw their hands in the air, but she picked Kerri and me.  We came forward and she had me stand on a desk.  She told me to try my hardest to pull Kerri up with me.  Try as I might, it wouldn’t happen.  It was too difficult. 
Then, Mrs. S asked Kerri to bring me down to her level, and, with one small jerk on my arm, she pulled me right off that desk. 
We all laughed and giggled and thought it was a fun exercise.  Then I told my mom the story, and she stared at me.  She began asking questions about my friend.  What kind of person is she?  How does she act around boys? How does she dress?  I was confused.  What could that possibly have to do with the exercise that day? 
Kerri was the friend I kind of envied for her edginess.  Her parents made her wear pleated skirts to school, so first thing in the morning, she changed into her tight pants in the girls’ bathroom and flaunted her body around the eighth grade.  She boasted of smoking.  She batted her eyes at the boys.  I was in awe.  In truth, she might not have been a terrific choice for a friend.  I know that now.
But, it took that one exercise for my mom to point this out to me.  Mrs. S was trying to show me something.  I may have missed it, but my mom didn’t.  And my mom was a pretty quick study. 
Now, as a mom myself, I try to steer my kids away from the frenemies and the kids who aren’t a good influence.  Unfortunately, there will be many of them.  The important thing is to avoid them.  At all costs. 
If adults are willing to share their personal stories, listen.  My mom once told me how this one popular girl started asking her group of friends to come over to my mom’s house, and how my mom (not a popular girl) bent over backwards to be a part of that crowd.  Finally one girl approached my mom and quietly told her that these new “friends” were stealing my mom’s records and putting them under their sweaters every time. 
It hurts to hear the truth, but it’s better than not hearing it.  We’ve all been hurt by people pretending to be friends, but if somebody has a reason for warning you away from a certain person, listen.
Unfortunately, growing up doesn’t mean you won’t still run into these types of situations.  I used to trust too early and too much.  Now, I evaluate.  I listen.  I don’t tell people secrets unless I know they can be trusted.
More than anybody, I trust my mom.  I trust her judgment.  When she told me someone couldn’t be trusted, I listened.  Nine times out of ten, she was right.  She was right even a year ago about a “friend” of mine. 
I hope my children listen to me the way I did to my mom.  I hope they trust me.  I hope they appreciate the stories I have to tell about my experiences and my mom’s experiences.  And I pray that they meet wonderful friends who will help them through their lives. 
Life is too short not to have wonderful, trustworthy friends. 
At any age.  At every age.
When have you been disappointed by a friendship? 



Melissa Landers said...

Great post, Kim.

I put on my thinking cap, and I could only come up with one story when a friend disappointed me in a big way. It was my junior year in high school, and someone pulled me aside and told me one of my very close friends had secretly made out with my boyfriend. Naturally, I didn't believe it. My friend would NEVER do that to me.

Well, later that day, my friend came to me in tears. Crying hysterically, she confessed everything. I was shocked, and though I forgave her, it was never the same after that.

And I dumped my boyfriend!

Kimberly said...

Unfortunately, that's a very common story, but it's never easy for anyone involved! Your friend probably felt awful, but you're right. No matter the intentions and the regrets, things can never go back to normal once something like that happens.
Girls, never betray a friend!!! Ever. Especially not for a boy.

Kerri Carpenter said...

What a great post! And that's a great lesson from your teacher. Maybe she should have spelled it out at the end, but a good lesson all the same.

Unfortunately, I have been duped many times by friends. The most recent time was actually last week. A good friend tried to get me in trouble at work by telling her boss I don't work enough hours. It hurts! I trusted her. Interestingly my BFF told me months ago she didn't like this person. See, I should have listened.

(Just FYI: I'm not the Kerri from this story.)

CareyCorp said...

Great post Kim!

How sad about the popular girls and your mom! But you are sooo lucky to count your parent among your best friends.

Kimberly said...

You most definitely are NOT the Kerri in my story. I'm not sure it would have been good for Mrs. S to spell it out. I guess it took a lot for me to get things in those days. Kerri would have gotten the message before I did. LOL.
I'm sorry to hear about your recent troubles. That's exactly what I mean about all ages and all friendships. No matter what age, we continue to learn and grow. From now on, listen to your BFF.

Kimberly said...

Yes, Carey,
It was super sad about those mean girls and my mom. But my mom told me the story in a context designed for me to see the fake friends in front of me. Thankfully, I was able to learn a lesson without too much of that kind of hurt.

Avery Flynn said...

Oh man did you have a smart teacher. I've known mean kids and been a mean kid a time or twelve myself. It's amazing what a few years of maturity will do to change your behavior.

Kimberly said...

Amen, Avery!
Although, I, of course, was never a mean kid. Not even a time or two. :-)

Lorie Langdon said...

Excellent post, Kim! I've always been one to believe the best about everyone, so I've had my share of 'friends' taking advantage of this quality.
But I hope and pray my boys will listen to me when the time comes. You seem like a cool mom, so I'm sure your kids will seek you out whenever they need advice. :)

Kimberly said...

I think your boys will listen to you! I think YA writers hold an advantage over other moms. LOL. We immerse ourselves in their lives and try our hardest to understand what they are experiencing. I'm certainly not saying I live vicariously through my kids. LOL!!!