Helping Your Tween Daughters Deal with “Frenemies”

Marie Osborne

Marie Osborne
Updated Aug 04, 2023
Helping Your Tween Daughters Deal with “Frenemies”

The thing that has been most powerful in this “frenemy” battle is my example. When I treat my daughters kindly and respectfully, they learn what it is like to be treated kindly and respectfully. 

I heard the front door slam and the sobs all the way from my bedroom. I ran downstairs, certain someone had broken an arm or a leg. She was huddled on the couch, crying into a pillow, physically unscathed, but obviously hurt. “Sweetie, what’s wrong?” “They’re so mean! I’m never hanging out with them again.” 

I hate seeing my girls like this. I hate seeing them hurt over and over and over again. I want them to make good friends, kind friends, not the kind that send them home sobbing into a pillow. But it seems that frenemies are par for the course with girls these days. Or maybe they’ve always been par for the course. All I know is my girls have made friends with “mean girls” for a while now, and I’m still figuring out how to help my tweens deal with these “frenemies.”

Frenemies from an Early Age

This isn’t the first time friends have brought her to tears. I was surprised by how early it started. Even in preschool, my sweet girls had “frenemies.” One day, they are the best of friends, completely inseparable. The next day, the doors are slamming, they’re sobbing in the pillow, vowing never to see each other ever, ever again. Why do we do this to each other? Why are women so hard on one another from such an early age?

My History with Frenemies

I remember navigating this myself. I remember having friends that seemed so fun, so kind, and I so wanted them to like me. But, man, could they hurt me. They would exclude me seemingly out of spite. They would make disparaging comments about my appearance or abilities or family but then tell me they were “just joking.” They would hang out with me all day, every day, then not at all, choosing another friend instead. They would invite me to be part of their group, only to treat me like an outsider the entire time. 

Good Parents, Bad Friends

We are blessed to have a wonderful neighborhood with great neighbors and a bunch of neighborhood kids. We are also very thankful for the wonderful families and kids at my kids’ school and at our home church. But even surrounded by amazing people, kids are not always kind. Girls are not always nice to one another. Little games get played, feelings get hurt, and our sinful nature comes out.

Frenemies Since Forever

Mean Girls. Frenemies. Whatever you call them, every generation has their version. Unfortunately, nowadays, mean girls can take their cruelty online. Luckily, we are still navigating all this on the playground, in the classroom, in the front yard, and in our cul de sac, but all too soon, they will need to figure out what to do about frenemies on Facebook, Instagram, and whatever else comes next.

A Future Full of Frenemies?

As my girls approach the teen years, I feel the weight of helping them navigate female friendships even more acutely than ever before. How to discern when someone is genuinely cruel or toxic or if they are just a kid, learning how to be a friend. How do they carefully select friends that will lift them up and point them to Christ in these years when they are so susceptible to outside influence? How do they let go of friendships that are harming them, hurting their faith, and pulling them away from God? How do they forgive when people have hurt them, and how do they know when it’s time to forgive and when it’s time to walk away? These are things grown women struggle with, let alone my little tweens.

Praying for Frenemies

The first thing we are starting with is prayer. One of my daughters desperately desires a best friend, so we are praying fervently for that friendship to emerge. I’m also praying that in her desire she would not settle for any old friendship. I pray she won’t stick around harmful or hurtful friends because she is afraid of being alone. I’m praying that Christ would become her Best Friend, so she will be able to wait patiently for the best friend she longs for. 

We pray together a lot about this topic. We ask God to bring peace to their friendships, to show them how to be peacemakers. We ask God to give them the wisdom to know what to do, what to say, when to forgive, and when to walk away. We ask God to work on their friends’ hearts, to make all of them desire to be good friends, Christ-honoring girls who treat each other as beloved children of God. 

I also pray fervently for them on my own. I pray for wisdom and discernment on my own. What to say, what not to say, what to ask, what to forgive, when to step in, when to let them figure it out on their own. I pray for their friends, that God would bring them each closer to Him. I pray that the Holy Spirit would work in my girls and in their friends to make them all more like Christ because I know that His work in their lives will make them amazing friends to one another. And I pray for healing and wholeness. I pray that all the hurts would be healed, that all the lies spoken would be replaced with truth, that the voice they hear would not be something a mean girl said but the truth of what God says about them. 

Talking About Frenemies

We also have long talks. By that I mean, they talk. They talk a lot. I’ve learned recently that the most important thing I can do is ask questions and listen. I used to get angry at kids that hurt my daughters’ feelings, but I can’t do that anymore. Getting angry on their behalf just forces them to defend their friend to me, even when their behavior is indefensible. But if I ask questions and listen, they often come to the right conclusions on their own. 

The Antidote to Frenemies

The thing that has been most powerful in this “frenemy” battle is my example. When I treat my daughters kindly and respectfully, they learn what it is like to be treated kindly and respectfully. When they see me and my friends interact, when they hear me talk about my friends, they learn what female friendship is like, what it can be. As they have observed my behavior toward them, they have learned what it feels like to be treated well. As they observe my friendships, they have set a high standard for how they expect their friendships to be. 

I hope that our prayers, our talks, and my example carry them far as we navigate “frenemies” together. I know that the Lord is at work in their lives, and He will guide them as we continue to pray for that guidance. I’m thankful I get to be part of the journey, and I hope that my daughter doesn’t just make “nice friends” but that we get to see those “frenemies” become loving, godly forever friends. By the power of God.

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