Advice for tweens and teens about everyday issues
Just because you’ve been a tween and a teen yourself doesn’t mean you’re always equipped to deal with their problems. Teacher and mentor Louise Palanker is here to offer advice again, and this time she’s tackling a common issue we have even in adulthood: when friends start to leave you out of a group. If your kids are facing similar problems, we think she’s got some great wisdom to share!
Editor’s note: If you or your tween/teen have a question you’d like answered, please contact us at [email protected]
I have two best friends, Anya and Beth. The three of us always hang out. Sometimes Anya and I hang out alone, but that’s because we’ve been best friends for a while. Beth and Anya were best friends before, but that was for a little bit. Then they stopped hanging out until last year when all three of us began hanging out as a group. Last week I had both of them over for a sleepover. Last night they had a sleepover without me and were sending pictures of the two of them to me. I wasn’t invited but I know they knew I was free. Should I be mad? I feel like Anya is kind of pushing me out. For example, last week she was discussing this boy with Beth and another friend. When I said something, she just let out this little giggle and was like, “I forgot you don’t know. A lot happened.” And then she just didn’t elaborate and went back to the conversation with the other friend. Am I being excluded? Should I be mad? I feel left out but I don’t know if it’s my place to say anything. – Zoe
I think that you should feel however you are actually feeling. We don’t want to judge our feelings. We just want to feel them and then figure out what to do with those feelings. I would say that yes, it’s FOMO-inducing to see your two best friends hanging out without you and sharing secrets that exclude you, but you do have to be careful about how you react. Think about your objective. It’s to be included. So be careful about saying something that would push them away. You really only want to give them an earful and throw that “AND ANOTHER THING….!” grenade when you are truly ready to walk away for good.
If you still feel very connected to these two girls then I would say that your best play is to barely react when you learn that they are hanging out together. Pretend you had something else going on anyway. Even if it was just Netflixing with the fam.
You began your post to me with some background on the ebb and flow of these friendships. Expect that to continue shifting. Be as flexible as your evolving relationships. The truth is that any two people have a right to hang out. No one is ever obligated to always include a third person. This means that you could do something alone with either one of these two girls. That’s just life. It’s going to happen and it should be able to happen with no fuss or muss. The problem would only be if it is happening repeatedly. That is when you could pull one girl aside and have a conversation.
When and if you do this, it’s critical that you do not accuse but instead inform. Make “I” statements. “I feel a little hurt when I’m not included. Is there something I should know? Have I upset you in any way? Help me understand.” That type of thing.
You cannot shout or rage or guilt someone into being your friend. By definition, a friend is someone who wants to be your friend. In turn, if someone is not BEING a good friend then your best choice is to walk away from the friendship. Even then, I would advise that you don’t burn it down with an exit tantrum. Friendships can be cyclical. Just walk away with dignity and then if that former friend comes to realise you were an awesome and excellent friend they will return on their own terms. The calmer you remain the more beautifully you are showing the world that you are an outstanding person to know and love.