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Teen friendship problems- LONG vent/commiseration/seeking perspective


jewellsmommy
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I think your DD's friend needs to grow a spine, and your DD should avoid any crowd with M in it, in person and online. I'm sorry she's having to deal with this crap. Kids can be jerks when they get into this kind of dynamic (queen bee and followers picking on the kid they've chosen to cast out/ostracize). There absolutely is bullying going on. Leaving that group was the right move. Talking to friend's parents if little bro was joining in the name calling, etc. is something she should consider. Hopefully her friend doesn't get drawn further into the queen bee's BS and their friendship will come through intact--this is more likely if there are not further situations in which M has the opportunity to directly attack your DD in front of friend.

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I like Ravin's answer.

Truthfully, I would be tempted to avoid the whole lot of them.

Also, Friend's parents are setting themselves up for a wild ride if they are already making excuses for underage drinking.

 

Edited to correct grammar.

 

Edited by Junie
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Well, I read it all--and although I skimmed a little and can't keep all the details straight (but that's not your fault!) I will just say it's a lot of teen drama. It's hard when there's a lot of triangulation and immature communication. I'm not sure what you should do, but I'm very sorry your child is being bullied and harassed. I might go all mama bear and talk to the mom of the boy who is doing most of it (that's her good friend's brother, right?) or maybe even speak with him with his mom present (with or without your dd--hmmm, IDK). Or I might say it's a good lesson in young boy jerkitude. 

I will be listening in to the advice you are given. You seem to have a good handle on your daughter and able to describe her with grace AND truthfulness, which is rare, so kudos to you. ETA Oh, I didn't see any replies when I responded! lol

Edited by Chris in VA
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3 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

You have adult friends who make excuses for irresponsible driving behavior, underage drinking and bullying.  And your daughter keeps hanging around these people.  She needs new friends. 

Agree.  

My son has had a really rough year as a few friendships revealed themselves to be not good ideas.  Even when it is obvious, it is still painful.  They want friends and they also want their friends to stick up for them when they are wronged by another.  

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13 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

You have adult friends who make excuses for irresponsible driving behavior, underage drinking and bullying.  And your daughter keeps hanging around these people.  She needs new friends. 

 

We are working on this. She has a few new friendships that have started recently. They were on a soccer team together, and dd invited them to her birthday party. Since then she has had the opportunity to go shopping and have lunch with two of them. It went well. Dd develops friends slowly. She isn't really the type to jump in with both feet, she tip-toes in.

I still hate that things have changed with her best friend. Friend is a follower and people pleaser with a much more mild demeanor. Outside of the glaring flaw that developed in their friendship, she had been a good friend to dd. I am still hoping she will evaluate this development ( dd pulling away) and make a better choice. As far as her brother...I just don't know what can be done about that. Talking to his mom has not made anything better.

ETA: Oh, and if we were friends with any of these parents, it might be easier to handle things. But I only know friend's parents, and we have an acquaintance-ship at best. I had hoped that there would have been a friendship at one point but then stuff started happening....

 

Edited by jewellsmommy
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1st thought, honestly, nobody really needs that level of detail.  People are being <insert whatever terms you like to use for these behaviors; I like cuss words>.  Your child is upset, and sometimes in danger, by these behaviors.  Withdraw from them.

Some friendships die.  It can be very sad.  But there is no avoiding drama down in the drama pits.

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IF your dd is able to rekindle  friendship with her former best friend or develop a friendship with the boy she likes it needs to be at your home, away from the rest of the difficult situation of people, bad teen drivers, alcohol, parents who don’t supervise, etc 

Sadly, it may not be possible. 

She needs more friends whether or not any friendship from this past situation can be kept so that these friends would not be as important in her life. 

I also suggest that for future possible situations she call you to come get her if anything is illegal, dangerous or she feels bullied.  Stop trying to boss the other teens or tell their parents. 

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Sometimes best friendships end. It sounds like friend needs to figure out how important your dd is. We enforce siblibgs-first, bit calling out siblings when they are doing wrong. I have no patience for the same type of stuff your dd has no patience for (crazy driving, underage alcohol, bullying). That isn't a popular opinion, though, so DD should know it will lose her friends (when the friends aren't the type she would want to keep anyway).

Kudos to your dd for sticking up for herself and her beliefs. I'd avoid the whole group. If friend reaches out, I'd only allow them to get together on neutral ground or your place. Dd should know (in the future) not to engage on the internet with any of the bully group-just leave immediately if they show up.

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The teen years are often the time when friendships change because that's when kids begin making their own independent decisions, try out new things (not always good ones), often become caught up in their emotions and drama, and the lack of proper guidance becomes more apparent.  Obviously your dd is the more sensible and stable one.  I'd break from the whole crowd, honestly.  It sounds very messy and just headed for more disasters.  Try and keep your dd from social media and build up her inner confidence.  If new friends aren't around right now, get her busy with interests, projects, passions, trips, things you two can do together, anything you can think of that's a positive distraction that might open new doors.  Once she has some distance between herself and them, she'll realize that those friendships had gone sour and were heading a direction that she wouldn't have wanted to take.

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We had to go in a new direction a couple of years ago bc of a friend who turned toxic.  Social media piling was also a big part of it.  It was absolutely the right decision and even turned out well for my ds who is slow to make friends.  It was so important for him to see he could make new friends and change the situation.  I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful the change was--but it was hard--"the group" was a long standing family friendship (the drama involved both my olders)--and one of the friends, who was trying to stick up for ds, didn't understand why we "left" and kept thinking that maybe someday it would all be okay.  I think that was harder on me than anything.  I wanted friend to leave the other friend bc of how horrible he'd been. But, it was like our family was the problem.  But he got used to it.

And we are in a wonderful place now.  My kids are happier, confident, have nice friends and my oldest is feeling good about going off to college.

So, I would say your dd should give her friend space and not try to be part of that group--particularly on social media.  Let friend come to her.

And, I don't think your dd's reactions are caused by the bad sibling experience she had.  We don't allow our kids to treat siblings poorly.  If you are close enough to the mom, I absolutely would tell her about ds 13's behavior.  I would like to know if it were my son.

 

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1 hour ago, Chris in VA said:

I might go all mama bear and talk to the mom of the boy who is doing most of it (that's her good friend's brother, right?) or maybe even speak with him with his mom present (with or without your dd--hmmm, IDK).

Please don't talk to the other kid without your daughter present. It isn't fair to her to allow him to talk without her having the opportunity to explain her side of the story in the moment. She needs to be the one doing that, not you.  It also lends too much to the "he said/she said" environment that is so common among teens that age. This is coming from the voice of experience, here.

Edited by TechWife
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I think I'd tell her she needs to make a choice.  Keep her high standards and find friends who are more like her regarding moral standards (and those people will be rare), or relax her moral standards to fit in with the people who aren't as good as she is.  I'd hope she'd choose to make the difficult choice and abandon those friends, but many people, especially as teens, choose moral compromise instead. I think she needs to make a proactive choice to feel good about the idea of walking away from her best friend, but she cannot control other people.  All she can control is herself.  Her "best friend" is choosing this awful bully instead of her, so I seriously doubt there is any way to fix the situation save walking away and hoping best friend either misses her or becomes the next target and realizes what was happening instead.

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Thank you all. Just the process of typing it out/speaking it in my head was helpful to me. Unfortunately, it seems as though most see this going the way I thought. Even if friend does a complete 180, there is no guarantee that the brother will leave dd alone. I can't trust that civility will be enforced from the brother or any other of the circle-of-friends of the family.  Dd says that she is so over it at this point. ? This was the first friend that dd made by herself, as in not connected to a family that we were all friends with. She came along at a delicate time in dd's life because ds had just stopped being with us and we were trying to find normal again. He had been all-consuming in our lives, and dd was depressed. It is very hard to explain what this friendship accomplished at that point in her life. I don't want her feel that alone again.

I just need dd to be ok.

 

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1 hour ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

You have adult friends who make excuses for irresponsible driving behavior, underage drinking and bullying.  And your daughter keeps hanging around these people.  She needs new friends. 

Bingo.

Time to help her join a new activity/volunteer job/youth group/co-op. 

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I agree with the above. It sounds like she needs new friends. They're barely even her friends at this point. M sounds like she really has it in for her.

But I wonder if you think she was inadvertently exaggerating the extent of the bad driving, the drinking, etc? I'm thinking about some black and white thinking teen students I've had in the past who - the minute a rule was being broken - all heck could break loose. And it was often like, yeah, they shouldn't have done that, but you also needed to not freak out because no one  was in danger like you seem to think. Like, I had one such student nearly have a panic attack when he saw that my speedometer read nearly 30 in a 25 during a field trip.

I just ask because... Obviously no one should be bullied. But also, in my experience, kids who are really black and white can become targets for other kids to pick on. And it's not okay... but saying that doesn't solve the practical problem of getting them friends. And at this age, you can force kids to be kind (or do your best), but you can't force them to be friends. Sounds like you're working on all of this, so maybe I have no point. Just... hard lessons.

I hope she finds kinder kids.

 

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58 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I agree with the above. It sounds like she needs new friends. They're barely even her friends at this point. M sounds like she really has it in for her.

But I wonder if you think she was inadvertently exaggerating the extent of the bad driving, the drinking, etc? I'm thinking about some black and white thinking teen students I've had in the past who - the minute a rule was being broken - all heck could break loose. And it was often like, yeah, they shouldn't have done that, but you also needed to not freak out because no one  was in danger like you seem to think. Like, I had one such student nearly have a panic attack when he saw that my speedometer read nearly 30 in a 25 during a field trip.

I just ask because... Obviously no one should be bullied. But also, in my experience, kids who are really black and white can become targets for other kids to pick on. And it's not okay... but saying that doesn't solve the practical problem of getting them friends. And at this age, you can force kids to be kind (or do your best), but you can't force them to be friends. Sounds like you're working on all of this, so maybe I have no point. Just... hard lessons.

I hope she finds kinder kids.

 

 

I have wondered this myself. I don't think exaggerating is the problem but more like being more sensitive to certain behaviors. The driving bothered another passenger besides dd and friend acknowledged that it was uncharacteristically wild. They did not seem as vocal as dd about it. 

The drinking depends on your POV. A 13 yr old drinking in secret with older teens/adult is a big deal to me. 

I do understand what you are getting at, and I am trying to look at it from all points of view.  ETA: Dd has some anxiety and can jump to worse case scenario pretty easily. Dh and I are like this too, honestly.

Edited by jewellsmommy
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1 hour ago, jewellsmommy said:

Thank you all. Just the process of typing it out/speaking it in my head was helpful to me. Unfortunately, it seems as though most see this going the way I thought. Even if friend does a complete 180, there is no guarantee that the brother will leave dd alone. I can't trust that civility will be enforced from the brother or any other of the circle-of-friends of the family.  Dd says that she is so over it at this point. ? This was the first friend that dd made by herself, as in not connected to a family that we were all friends with. She came along at a delicate time in dd's life because ds had just stopped being with us and we were trying to find normal again. He had been all-consuming in our lives, and dd was depressed. It is very hard to explain what this friendship accomplished at that point in her life. I don't want her feel that alone again.

I just need dd to be ok.

 

Oh, mama, I get it.  Our situation caused so much loss for both my kids (and Iost a good friend, too).  They also experienced some depression and anxiety and I was so, so sad for them and felt so desperate that I couldn't fix everything immediately.  The best thing I did was learn to focus on what was going well for them and let them know that even though things were hard, things would get better.

The road seemed so long at the time, but in retrospect it wasn't.  See if you can get her involved in some new things even if it means going to new places.

She needs to know that pain and hard thing happen and that you can get through them and make changes to find happiness.

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1 hour ago, jewellsmommy said:

.  Dd says that she is so over it at this point. ? 

 

 

I am very glad she is feeling over it. That seems healthy and positive. 

Has she any ideas for new activities etc where she might meet new friends?

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Oh my gosh, people suck! 

That was so painful to read. I would agree that I would not want her involved in any setting where M and those others are in the picture. Or those kind of parents! 

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23 minutes ago, Quill said:

Oh my gosh, people suck! 

That was so painful to read. I would agree that I would not want her involved in any setting where M and those others are in the picture. Or those kind of parents! 

B may have some redeeming qualities. But yes otherwise, help her find new friends.

OP I do admire your willingness to see this objectively....black and white thinking rigid teens are tough.  I have one.  Take the opportunity to teach her balance and further teach her that these are the situations that help her learn what kind of people she wants in her life.  Sometimes realizing your 'best' friend is not someone you want in your inner circle is very painful.

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3 hours ago, Pen said:

 

I am very glad she is feeling over it. That seems healthy and positive. 

Has she any ideas for new activities etc where she might meet new friends?

 

We printed off the volunteer application for a local fine arts center. Dd is a proficient artist and skilled with crafts. She would be able to to do art projects with children in their art programs. She is excited by this. 

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15 minutes ago, jewellsmommy said:

 

We printed off the volunteer application for a local fine arts center. Dd is a proficient artist and skilled with crafts. She would be able to to do art projects with children in their art programs. She is excited by this. 

Great! 

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I agree with others that it is probably better to drop these friendships, even though it will be hard.

I was a black-and-white thinker as a teen, and I really struggled when my friends made choices that I thought were wrong. I was a rule-follower and would be very firm in my stance on whatever the issue was. And this was good in many ways! Because it protected me from venturing into trouble, and I do believe that it is right to have a strong moral code. I think that those traits are positive things for your daughter.

But those same traits caused friction with my group of friends. I'm sure they thought I was judgmental. I sometimes extended a lot of energy and effort trying to convince them to do what I thought was right. I could get very upset (privately), when they made decisions I thought were wrong. I took some pride in feeling that it was more important to me to be right and do right than to be liked, although it hurt a ton when others did not like me.

And this was all in the 80s, before the advent of social media. I know that texting and other social media amplifies these kind of problems. I've seen my own children being sucked into drama on group texts. It can get ugly very quickly.

From my perspective, your daughter is looking at the situations from a wiser point of view than some of the others involved, and that is commendable. She shouldn't be driving with unsafe drivers or hanging with those who are giving alcohol to a 13 year old!!! (As a side note, as a mom, I would not allow her to spend time at that home again.)  However, I would encourage her to stop rehashing events and let them be part of the past. I can understand how being part of the group text allows her to address what they are saying about her, while if she drops out, they can talk about her behind her back. That's a hard place. But I think it's probably healthier for her to distance herself and not dwell on the words of those who dislike her, so I would advise her to drop out of the group text. Once she is gone, the text conversation is likely to change to other topics anyway. 

I don't think your daughter is wrong. But I do think she might benefit from trying to view some things in a different way. Not because her thoughts about what happened are wrong. But because there may be ways for her to understand and work through tough social situations that will make things easier on her emotionally.  I could have used help with this as a teen, though at the time, I thought I had the moral high ground and didn't need to alter any of my thinking. Today, therapists use "social stories" to help people work through how to process and respond to social situations. Counselors can do this, but it would also be something that you could look into on your own . You could find resources online and work through them with her, if she is willing.

Here is what I would tell my teen self, if I could go back in time:

Be strong in your beliefs. But don't expect others to believe as you do and make the same choices you would. Don't lecture or argue or try to get your friends to see your point of view, when you know they think differently than you do. They have been around you enough to already know your point of view. Remove yourself from uncomfortable situations. Speak up for yourself as needed, but don't be surprised or alarmed or hurt or think the world will end when others don't agree with you or when they make choices you would never make. Realize that sometimes preserving the relationship is more valuable than making your friend see that they are wrong and you are right. Other relationships are better dropped. Some people that you thought were your friends really are not. It's okay to have personal and moral boundaries that are different than those of the people around you. You may feel lonely sometimes, even often. You may feel misunderstood or over looked at times, because most of the world does not see things in black and white.  Remember that your true friends can be goodhearted and still see things drastically differently than you do, and that's okay.

Mainly -- Be yourself. But don't expect others to be like you.

 

 

Edited by Storygirl
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Also -- if I were your daughter, I wouldn't mind limiting the time I spent with most of those involved, but the strained relationship with the main Friend would sting. I would want Friend to be on my side of it all. Friend seems to be conflicted and leaning toward aligning herself with the others instead.

This would be the most painful part for me as the teen. I think from the perspective of being the mom, however, I wouldn't be so sorry to see that friendship die down.

Secondly, I happen to have among my own children in my own family some young teens who squabble and pick on each other and honestly are not always very nice and are in fact downright mean. And as a parent, I don't accept that as just typical sibling behavior, but I address it. And I wouldn't excuse my son picking on his sister's friend as him just treating the friend as he would treat a sister.

So nope. I don't buy that excuse from the friend's mom. Your daughter may be especially sensitive to sibling drama. But it is NOT her fault that she is upset when the boy is mean to her. It is wrong to place blame for that on her. The friend's mom is wrong.

 

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One last thought and then I need to go to bed.

I skimmed the OP a bit again. During the May overnight, your daughter took it upon herself to try to police the other kids' behavior. I totally get it!! I would have done the same!!

But it's better for her to learn not to do that. Help her practice other ways to handle situations like that (which ties into my social stories suggestion in my other super long post).

 

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This is a good time for her to learn how to let a friendship go. "Oh, thanks for asking, Yes, I've been very busy! Pass the bean dip." This is a life skill.

Many teens do too much talking/gossiping about past friends and create toxic connections that follow them. She can now learn how to be classy. 

I'm sorry she's going through all this. She definitely needs to give these people space. 

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These are not healthy relationships at all.  The incident with M driving -scary and abusive and all the verbal abuse in person and online.  The friend seems like a weak person and your Dd is strong in her values, which is a good thing.  I don't think they can have a healthy relationship as long as friend has  people like M and bad brother in her social circles.  I don't think the black and white thinking you are talking about is the problem here.  I think it is the people!  Your daughter deserves better!

It is great that your daughter has interests she us excited about and other friends who are likely to be healthier than the group you described.  Encourage your daughter with these things.  Let her talk out her disappointment in friend and let her know that it is not her job to police these people but better to stay away from them!

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I've been thinking more about the black and white thinking... sometimes that can be a sign of anxiety.  And trying to control/parent other kids for what is unlikely to harm them is another sign of anxiety.

Does your DD show symptoms of anxiety and/or a need to control otherwise?

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The comments of several here really resonate with me. Maybe I was more like your daughter as a teen? Personally, I would rather my daughter be a little rough around the edges socially and stand up what she feels is right/safe, than to be like the friend who waffles and is wobbling on things. It isn't uncommon at that age (especially) to need a bit of work on the social side of things--learning how to be strong yet not obnoxious, etc. With all the things that are hard to navigate for teens these days, I wouldn't want to weaken her strong opinions too much in trying to help her socially; she may really need that strength to see her through to adulthood. But I do like what Storygirl said about it being okay for others to disagree and just letting them, without trying to convince them over to "her" side. I'd be glad to see my daughter move away from the whole group as well; while losing the friendship hurts, this friend seems more likely to make your daughter end up compromising or being in unsafe situations than she does to help your daughter learn to manage things better socially.

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I feel really bad for her, but this group is not in any way, shape or form healthy for her.  The more she tries to reason and make others understand her pov, the worse it will become.  The verbal and social media abuse is the kicker for me. She can explain, right fight, etc., but the attitudes of these other kids will not change.  Your dd is in a no win situation.  Take a step back and look at the actions of the other "adults" in the situation.  Are they demonstrating healthy boundaries, teaching their own that bullying is not okay?  

I think that your dd needs to make a break with this group, as painful as it may be for her.  The behavior that you allow is the behavior you encourage.  It's not going to stop, and your dd is worth more than this.  I worry about what this will do to her long-term if the verbal abuse continues.  Mean kids suck, but their attitudes and behavior can be very contagious.  And, it doesn't seem like their parents have any problem with how your dd feels, or it would have stopped immediately.  

Just my two cents...I 

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20 hours ago, jewellsmommy said:

Thank you all. Just the process of typing it out/speaking it in my head was helpful to me. Unfortunately, it seems as though most see this going the way I thought. Even if friend does a complete 180, there is no guarantee that the brother will leave dd alone. I can't trust that civility will be enforced from the brother or any other of the circle-of-friends of the family.  Dd says that she is so over it at this point. ? This was the first friend that dd made by herself, as in not connected to a family that we were all friends with. She came along at a delicate time in dd's life because ds had just stopped being with us and we were trying to find normal again. He had been all-consuming in our lives, and dd was depressed. It is very hard to explain what this friendship accomplished at that point in her life. I don't want her feel that alone again.

I just need dd to be ok.

 

 

I know that feeling. Sometimes, it's not reasonable to expect them to be OK, though, at least not short-term. I'm sorry your DD is going through this.

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I'm so sorry for your dd and her friend, what a great yucky mess.  The friend obviously has some major loyalty conflicts, and sounds like she'd like to be loyal- in private- to dd, but doesn't have the backbone to go against her sibs and older friends.  That is tough, but I hope your dd can give her some grace (which does not necessarily mean staying close friends.  That ship may have sailed)

I agree with the poster who said that she needs to know not to play the police, and instead make calling you her first option.  When she becomes uncomfortable (like the drinking), she needs to first get herself out of the situation, then pass the buck to you guys, who may be more capable of judging if the situation warrants intervention.  Obviously with the car, your dd was trapped and that must have been a really scary feeling for her.  

If she experiences online bullying again, she needs to immediately remove herself.  If she is pursued into private chats or similar, then a pretty serious line has been crossed IMO and warrants you calling parents.  

It sounds like M is a manipulative punk who enjoys being the oldest to a group of admiring teens.  What a b....  

B sounds like he (hopefully) is a nice guy and wants to know the truth, and it would be good if dd and B could establish a friendship that is not related to the group.  However, 16 and 14 is a big age gap (at those ages) IMO for things other than friendship.  But if being friends with B keeps all this drama alive, dd might be better off just letting them all go.  But I hope B's interest has at least allowed her to feel "heard" by a friend of sorts.  

I congratulate your daughter on her moral compass.  I was also that way as a teen and it can be a difficult position.  I also congratulate you and your DH for raising a child who is sharing this all with you openly.  

 

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11 hours ago, Katy said:

I've been thinking more about the black and white thinking... sometimes that can be a sign of anxiety.  And trying to control/parent other kids for what is unlikely to harm them is another sign of anxiety.

Does your DD show symptoms of anxiety and/or a need to control otherwise?

 

Yes. The doctor and I agree that she has anxiety. She disagrees. There was a lot of emotional damage while ds was in our home. It is all wrapped up together and is part of the reason that she is resistant to any intervention that resembles mental health care. It is an even longer story than this one, but we have a plan. It is just not as fast moving or aggressive as I would like it to be. At least she has made some concessions on the matter.

Edited by jewellsmommy
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29 minutes ago, jewellsmommy said:

 

Yes. The doctor and I agree that she has anxiety. She disagrees. There was a lot of emotional damage while ds was in our home. It is all wrapped up together and is part of the reason that she is resistant to any intervention that resembles mental health care. It is an even longer story than this one, but we have a plan. It is just not as fast moving or aggressive as I would like it to be. At least she has made some concessions on the matter.

 

Depending on what happened, DS's mental health might make this advice not work for her, but IME she might be less resistant to cognitive behavioral therapy.  It's not about rehashing issues so much as it is teaching her to identify errors in thinking, such as whatever is going on in her head that leads to parentified behaviors. There's generally a set amount of sessions, something like 8-12, an end date, and at her age, homework that consists of something like journaling or a workbook. It might help her be a bit more rational about her anxiety, stop correcting other kids, and possibly develop the social skills she needs to not turn future friends off with self-righteous behaviors while still allowing her to keep her high standards and respect herself.  I'd probably go to the first session with her, mention your concerns regarding social skills, mention the history with her brother, and leave what to pursue up to her & the therapist. Personally I'd be fine with her remaining self-righteous if that's who she wants to be, but I'd want her to really think through weather it is right or good to alienate others (even if this one particular older person is toxic and should be avoided, she's going to run into drinking when she gets to college and she's going to want to think through the ramifications of that before she goes, or possibly choose an uber-Christian campus that bans alcohol).

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