Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day #56

When my daughters were both toddlers, throwing temper tantrums and making day-to-day life, er...challenging, people would tell me that things only get harder.

They were right.

Fortunately the tantrums are much fewer and farther-between, but a whole new set of challenges arose when they got older. I have two daughters, eighteen months apart, both approaching middle school age. The hormones are starting to kick up. Emotions are running high. Friends are becoming more important in the grand scheme of things. I'm getting scared.

Right now the biggest challenge for me is trying to navigate my way through the maze of girl diplomacy.

I love the friends my older daughter has chosen. This is a group of sweet, sensitive girls with great values. She spent Saturday volunteering at a local shelter, preparing meals and serving food to the homeless alongside her friend Mariah's family. There is no drama in this group of friends. All the families are so nice, and the girls get along wonderfully.

My younger daughter, however, is another story. She has some nice friends, but this group has a lot of drama going on. Again, the families are nice enough, but there are some discrepancies in values here. I'm not sure how to address this. I don't want to be the mom who tells her nine year old, "You can't play with so-and-so anymore!", but I am trying to passively discourage certain friendships. Is that bad?

I clearly see certain friendships leading to some very hurt feelings in the future. There are some mean-girls-in-training in this group, and my younger daughter tends to be more of a follower. She is already so concerned with what her friends think. As we tried to plan her birthday party, she was most concerned with when it would be convenient for her friends, and what her friends would like to do most. I kept telling her it was supposed to be her day to choose an activity that would be special to her, not a time to try and please her friends. She didn't get it.

How can I help her become more of a leader and less of a follower? How do I guide her toward friends who will lift her up, not drag her down?

Those folks who said it only gets harder weren't kidding. At least we're done with tears in the checkout line at the market when Mommy says no to candy.

Oh wait, I have an almost-toddler on my hands...

Here we go again!

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