When Your Daughter Feels Surrounded…Yet Alone

“I’m not so sure being in the same place is the same as being friends.”

E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

An 11th grade girl missed 2 weeks of school due to an emotional breakdown.

From her large friend group, only 1 girl checked on her, which fueled her fear that her friendships weren’t real.

A 10th grade girl got booted from her friend group. They treated her terribly, yet she was scared to leave because the groups at her school were set in stone, and she had no place to go.

A 9th grade girl saw a dominant new leader convince her friend group to exclude her. Her mom tried to stay upbeat, but seeing her daughter so hurt and spending every weekend at home made her want to cry.

An 8th grade girl got dropped from a group text. First her friends stopped replying to her comments. Then they started a new thread without her.

A 7th grade girl who was kind and well-liked suddenly got edged out. Even her mom noticed how the other moms and daughters would get together without them, and they didn’t understand why.

These stories explain the hidden pain often associated with girls’ friendship. I share them not to bash females, but to offer reassurance that girls who face these situations are less alone than they think.

The friends who bring your daughter great joy can also bring her great pain. Still, it’s worth the effort to find real friends because your daughter needs them in the teenage years. As Dr. Lisa Damour says, “I can’t overstate the significance of a teenager’s tribe membership. Teenagers aren’t just looking to make friends, they are replacing the family they’ve withdrawn from with a tribe that they can feel proud to call their own.” 

Everyone feels lonely sometimes, but for many teens today, loneliness is felt within a group. They feel surrounded…yet alone. As one girl wrote to me, “Even though I am the least noticed person in my friend group, I’d give up anything to stay there. There are only 42 people in my grade, only a few friend groups left to go to, and I don’t fit in with any of them.”

It’s sad, isn’t it? This generation is struggling with their friendships, and there aren’t always options of where else they can go.

We can’t fix their heartaches, but we can do 3 things as parents:

Pray.

Be a source of strength.

Point them to God.

We can listen, empathize, and guide – even seek a counselor to lead them to a better place.

When your daughter faces a lonely season, here are talking points to consider.

1. You’re not alone. I’m with you, and more importantly, God is with you. He walks beside you and before you, loving you always (unlike people, who can be fickle and change their mind overnight). Remember Romans 8:31: If God is for me, who can be against me?

2. This feeling won’t last forever. Feelings are like the weather; they change hourly and daily. Feel your emotions, but don’t let them mislead you. Don’t let them blind you to the truth or cause regrettable reactions. Just because you feel unlovable doesn’t mean you are unlovable. Just because you feel like lashing out at your friends doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Feelings are terrific followers – yet terrible leaders. I know you’re hurting, but rest assured that this is temporary.

3. Not all friends are equal. In friendship, quality matters more than quantity. It’s better to have 2 committed friends you can carry through life than 10 casual friends that only last for a season. Most people can count their best and most loyal friends on one hand, and if you have that, you’re lucky.

4. You won’t thrive in every season – and that’s okay. We all face situations where we don’t click with anyone, make genuine connections, or feel like we belong, but your lonely seasons will teach you your best lessons in friendship. Being an outsider teaches you to be kind and inclusive. It gives you a heart for people who get left out and hunger for an invitation. It makes you appreciate real friends and reflect on the friend you’ve been. It inspires you to be better, to think beyond yourself even as you find your tribe.

5. Not everyone will like you – and that’s okay too. You won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s okay because you don’t need popularity to have a terrific life. Be kind, but don’t chase the approval of people who you’re never going to please. Love many, trust few, and set healthy boundaries with people who hurt you.

6. Friendship should be a source of comfort, not stress. You may feel lonely because you’re with the wrong people. Choosing the wrong friends will ultimately bring heartache. While no friend is perfect, healthy friendships should meet certain standards of love, respect, and reciprocation. Don’t settle for bad relationships just so you’ll have plans on Friday night. You’ll never reach full potential surrounded by the wrong people, and you’ll never meet friends who bring your best if you only invest in friends who bring out your worst.

7. Real friendships grow one-on-one. Girls often aim “big” and try to get into a group, but real friendships grow through personal interactions. Think of someone who’s kind and who you want to know better – and invite her to walk, grab lunch, or try an adventure. It’s natural to want an immediate squad, but most people build their trusted circle slowly and intentionally over time.

8. You have the power to be proactive and create the community you desire. Girls often wait to be invited – and then ruminate in feeling ignored or rejected when invites do not come. The truth, however, is that you can do the inviting. Even if you’re shy, you can learn the life skill of reaching out to others and being the friend you hope to find. Like the girl who pledged a sorority where she didn’t know a soul – so she sat in the living room of the sorority house knowing she’d meet many people that way – you can put yourself in social situations. There are so many girls searching for real friends, and all it takes is someone like you to initiate the conversation and take the first step.

When your daughter faces a lonely spell, show her extra-love. Surround her with positive people and voices – even surprising her with a visit from a best friend from camp or a cousin who’s like a sister. Invite people into your home who create joy, warmth, and community and make her feel like she belongs. Most importantly, ask God to help you as you help her. Pray for light to find light and for healthy relationships where your daughter can thrive and bravely walk into her God-given purpose.

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For more on healthy girl relationships check out:

Girls, Don’t Settle for Bad Relationships

Coaching Your Daughter Through Friend Drama

Cast a Wide Net – and Be Kind to Everyone

What Middle School Girls Should Know about Friendship

Give Your Friends Room to Have a Bad Day

Helping Your Daughter Find Real Friends

Raising a Kind Daughter

The Girl Mom Podcast

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Thanks for reading this message. Please share it on social media and click over to the Girl Mom podcast to listen to “Don’t Struggle Alone,” a message on how to help your child open up to you.  

My new book Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter is now available, and it’s getting a fantastic response. You can find it everywhere books are sold, including Amazon and Audible. What a privilege it’s been to narrate my first book for moms!   

My two books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, have been used widely across the U.S. for group studies. For more posts, subscribe to this blog or join me on FacebookInstagram and the Girl Mom podcast.

 

 

Posted by Kari on August 31, 2020

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3 responses to “When Your Daughter Feels Surrounded…Yet Alone”

  1. Suzann says:

    This is exactly where we are. My daughter is 16 and all the photos and posts of the group are bombarding her. The one thing that is so hard is that they are “Christian” girls. It is such a huge struggle for me as a “grizzly” single mom. I have to really stop and ask God to hold my words and put his in the right place. This was a answer to help me-
    Thank you!

  2. Ginger Brusa says:

    Same goes for adult women. I have recently wondered who my real friends are. Only a couple check in with me. Quality does matter.

  3. Michelle says:

    Thanks for this article. I have three daughters and only my oldest has a good friend group. Her friends were forged prior to cell phones. Call phones make the girl friend issues so much worse. My second daughter not only lost her friend to the “ghosting”, but also to cancer. This daughter really has trouble dealing with relationship. She has a mentality of not wanting to put much into friendships because they end. My third is in the middle of it. We call her the mayor. She has many friends. We pray for our daughters constantly.

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