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?