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#1 of 15 Old 05-26-2014, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter is only 8, but I'm asking this here because it seems like more of a "big kid" issue.  I truly do not know where to go with this.  How do I end a friendship of my child's that I do not approve of?  At what age is it no longer acceptable for me to try to do so?  

 

My daughter made a friend last year when both girls were involved in a theater production.  This girl is 3 years older than my daughter, and they have no common activities or social interactions.  In other words, they aren't in school together, or any classes or have friends in common or anything.  They seem to me to be at very different stages of physical and social development as well as the age difference.  So basically, maintaining any sort of friendship with this girl means that I have to facilitate it - which I would be willing to do if I in fact wanted them to be friends, but I don't.

 

It isn't that I think this girl is a horrible person, but I have seen behavior patterns that I don't feel that my younger, impressionable, and somewhat socially immature child needs to be around.  I have seen her be manipulative and deceitful - in small ways, not talking about major criminal behavior or anything - and it bothers me that not only does my daughter not see this but that she tries to "fit in" with her and act the same way.  THis girl appears to be very privileged and indulged, and my daughter often comes away from visits with her cranky and dissatisfied with her own less luxurious life.   I am also concerned with how intensely my daughter seems to want to pursue this friendship - she is constantly pestering me to arrange a visit, and she gets very upset when I don't do so fast enough or when she feels like too much time has past since they last got together.  Within the last few months, this girl has invited my daughter to her birthday party, but has made no other attempts to see her - however, she always says yes if we invite her to do something.  So I sort of get the feeling that she's not nearly as interested in the friendship as my daughter. This would be fine, because frankly I don't know why a girl that much older would want to be close friends with her.  To be honest, my instinct is that she is a "Mean Girl" and that my daughter will be hurt by her.  So I have really hoped that their friendship would just sort of fade away since they seldom see each other and have little in common, except that my daughter doesn't seem to get it, and just pesters me more to get them together and doesn't understand my reluctance.  

 

I feel like I have handled this situation badly so far, and I would like to change that if I can.  My strategy of putting off my daughter's requests to see her friend has not caused the friendship to die a natural death, as I had hoped.  Instead my daughter has become very upset with me because she doesn't understand why I'm not doing more to help her maintain the friendship.  My attempts to put her off and distract her with other friends and activities has not worked.  When I give her a vague promise to get them together "soon" she doesn't forget about it, she just feels betrayed by me that I haven't kept my word and made it happen in a timely manner.  When I try to explain to her that we've invited the friend to do stuff that last few times and now it's more polite to wait for her to reciprocate, she truly doesn't get the social nuances involved and just wants me to push harder.  I feel I'm at the point where I'm going to have to tell her that no, I don't want her to be friends with this girl and that I won't get them together anymore.  I guess I should have done that sooner, but I know she will be horribly upset and angry with me.  Or I guess I could spell it out for her that her friend doesn't seem interested in maintaining the friendship, but that will hurt her too.  

 

I'm sorry this is so long.  I hope someone can help me here. If she were younger, I'd have no problem just cutting her off from this girl.  If she were older, I'd realize that I have to let her make her own friendship decisions (at least I think I would!).  But in this situation, I am truly at a loss.

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#2 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 04:50 AM
 
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What a tough situation.  It sounds like your daughter wants to be friends with someone who might not be as receptive to friendship as your daughter is AND the age difference makes for, perhaps, an unbalanced friendship.  Can you focus on other friends?  Maybe nurture another friendship that has been sitting in the wings, so to speak?  Maybe by introducing a new child that your daughter might like to get to know will take her mind off the other girl.  Or you could change up the playdates so the girls are doing something more organized when they get together so there is less opportunity for the older girl to be impressionable on your daughter- like going laser tagging or something more organized.  Or, and I guess it sounds a little deceitful, you could make excuses as to why the girl can't play that day.  Be busy with something else.  Maybe you don't have to end the friendship, just limit the friendship.  Are you friends with the parents?  How do they feel about the friendship?

 

My son is friends with someone older.  My son is 12 (13 soon) and the friend is 16.  However, I also think the 16 yr old is a good kid.  I like him a lot.  I am also friends with the parents.  That said, we do encourage our son to branch out with kids his own age because I think a 16 yr old is at a different point in life.  He has a girl friend, he is looking for a job, he's in high school.  He has different experiences AND we have explained that to our son because, at 12, I think he is old enough to understand that.  My son does share some interests with him and they get together and do that.  Right now they probably see each other once a month and it's usually my son who has asked his friend.  I don't think the 16 yr old has initiated a get together in a while.  When they first started seeing each other less, I explained to my son that his friend was a bit older and perhaps was getting together with friends his own age and at his school.  It was tough on him at first and he was pretty bummed out.  But now he accepts that the friendship is not the same.  We also gently discouraged him from constantly wanting to see the 16 yr old.  I know they text a bit and chat that way.  So my situation isn't the same as yours, but I understand your concern with a friend being older.  It doesn't necessarily mean they are a mean girl (my daughter is almost 11 and is wonderful and also great with her 9 year old sister and she does occasionally play with her sister and her 8 yr old BFF and everyone is fine). But it seems the 11 yr old in your situation isn't really interested in pursuing the type of friendship your daughter wants.  Time, understanding and gentleness will help your daughter understand.  


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#3 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 07:27 AM
 
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I was a theatre kid and have 2 so I'll address the age thing. It's very normal in theatre for kids to have and keep friends of a vast age range. It's very normal to form tight bonds with kids during a show, consider them friends but perhaps not see each other much until the next show (where they are inseparable again.) My kids have always had friends much older and than them (and as they aged, younger than them.) They don't do everything together because "everything" isn't age appropriate for all parties. However, there have been some lasting relationships. So basically, the age thing wouldn't be a factor for me.

 

If her behavior is questionable. If your DD feels worse after a visit than better. If the girl has the means to invite your child over and doesn't. If your DD is obsessing over this one friendship to the detriment of others then yes, I agree some distance is a good idea. If it were me, I'd not say "I'll get you guys together soon." I'd say "we invited her the last 3 times... it's her turn to invite you" and stand firm. Yes, your daughter is going to be upset but that just happens with parenting sometimes. Frankly, I'd be doing this even if I loved the older girl just because I don't feel it's my job to chase down my kid's friends.

 

I'm sorry, I don't really see a way of handling this that doesn't result in your daughter being angry with you or hurt. Sometimes our kids get hurt by others. Outside of keeping them away from dangerous relationships, some things you have to let them figure out. There have been some friends that I thought were questionable. My kids have been hurt by their behavior. It's hard to watch but it's always been the hurt that forces them to move on and find higher quality connections. 


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#4 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 08:28 AM
 
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Are there other friends you would like to encourage connections with?  My daughter kind of zeroed in on another girl that just...wasn't working.  She was argumentative and manipulative and just...kinda mean.  I started making more plans with other kids and my daughter has stopped asking to play with the other girl, and now that my daughter isn't making all the overtures, the other girl is nicer when they are around each other (surprise, surprise).

 

Try filling her time with other kids. 

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#5 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 09:43 AM
 
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An 11-year-old who accepts social invitations from an 8-year-old she befriended months before and who invites that younger girl to her birthday can't be all bad, IMO. I'd just gently remind your dd that older kids' interests often wander off in new directions, and that it's important to nurture more than one friendship. Standing in the way of the friendship is likely to make it all the more alluring: idolizing older kids who seem more worldly -- especially if they're exhibiting a bit of cynicism and attitude -- is pretty common, and if you're raising a good kid it'll all come out in the wash.

 

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#6 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 11:33 AM
 
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I think you've gotten some great advice. I'm another one with a theater/music kid, and I used to be a professional musician. I agree with telling your DD she needs to wait for the other girl to reciprocate. It's summertime now - are there any other music/theater opportunities for your DD? It would be an opportunity to widen her social circle right now. 

 

I can totally relate to you, because I am trying to put a big space in my DD's friend relationship right now. The girl is very troubled, and I'm no longer OK with my DD being this girl's counselor. DD doesn't need to know the details of her 12-year-old friend's cutting and online porn relationships! So I *cannot wait* for DD's play rehearsals to begin tomorrow night, because I know she will be consumed with those friends and get some space from the school friend.


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#7 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 12:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kcc153 View Post
  My strategy of putting off my daughter's requests to see her friend has not caused the friendship to die a natural death, as I had hoped.  Instead my daughter has become very upset with me because she doesn't understand why I'm not doing more to help her maintain the friendship.  My attempts to put her off and distract her with other friends and activities has not worked.  When I give her a vague promise to get them together "soon" she doesn't forget about it, she just feels betrayed by me that I haven't kept my word and made it happen in a timely manner.  When I try to explain to her that we've invited the friend to do stuff that last few times and now it's more polite to wait for her to reciprocate, she truly doesn't get the social nuances involved and just wants me to push harder.  I feel I'm at the point where I'm going to have to tell her that no, I don't want her to be friends with this girl and that I won't get them together anymore.  I guess I should have done that sooner, but I know she will be horribly upset and angry with me.  Or I guess I could spell it out for her that her friend doesn't seem interested in maintaining the friendship, but that will hurt her too.  

 

 

I vote for gentle honesty. Up til now, you haven't been honest with your DD because you are trying to avoid the truth, believing this to be the more gentle path. Honesty can be brutal, but it doesn't have to be. If you are honest while letting your DD have the space to feel her feelings she can learn and grow from this situation. Things to be honest about:

 

  1. Friendships need to be sort of even. I'm not one for keeping score, and I think that in a real friendship, one looses track of who called who last. However, this is totally lop-sided. Be direct and firm. Your DD can learn social nuances and you can teach them to her. Be direct - leave no room for confusion.
  2. The moral issues. This is a huge issue and one you need to talk to your daughter about, and be grateful for the opportunity to start what will be an ongoing dialogue for years to come. The values and morals of the people we chose to spend time with has a massive impact on our lives. Rather than trying to dictate who our children can and can't be friends with, I see it as our job to teach them to figure it out for themselves. You can still control this right now, but you really won't be able to in a few years to come, so rather than controlling it, start teaching her to make solid decisions that will help her to be happy with her own life.
  3. As far as privileged and indulged thing, that is something to examine your own feelings about and then talk to your DD about. There is a difference between just having nice things and thinking you are better than others because of what you have. If the family has more money and your DD envies it, then you can address that. My DH earns a very nice living and sometimes the things we have as a family make others uncomfortable, which really doesn't have anything to do with the fact that both my DDs are lovely people who are very kind to others, empathic, good students, etc. I would hate for some parent to not want my child to be friends with their because their child came home from my house wishing for a bigger house and a trip to Europe. It sounds like there are other issues in the friendship, but helping your DD learn to be happy with what she has in life while not giving her the message that people with something different are inherently bad would be better for your DD in the long run. Finances are just one part of life -- your DD has wonderful things in her life, everyone does. 

 

In short, try a little honesty with your DD. Rather than trying to manipulate the situation into going away, respectfully share your concerns with her.

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#8 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much for the advice.  I think it's true that I'm just going to have to accept my daughter's being angry with me.  I know I'm also going to have to let her choose her own friends more in the coming years.  I'm having a hard time in general with moving on to parenting an older child - I also have a 3 year old and one on the way, so I'm still kind of in baby/toddler parent mode.  

I've decided to invite the friend to meet us at a park for a few hours, but I'm going to say no if my daughter tries to extend the visit by asking to go to the other girl's house (at her invitation) - this frequently happens when I arrange something for them at a neutral location.  After that, my daughter will be busy for a few weeks with camps and stuff, so hopefully that will be a distraction.  Then I will stand firm and tell her that it's the friend's turn to initiate contact.

 

Thanks again for the help and perspective - I really wasn't sure if my instincts were way off base and I was being completely overprotective, so I appreciate that no one seems to think I'm being crazy helicopter mom!  (Although someone is welcome to chime in with that perspective too. ;) )  I just appreciate the chance to get some feedback.

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#9 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 12:40 PM
 
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Thanks again for the help and perspective - I really wasn't sure if my instincts were way off base and I was being completely overprotective, so I appreciate that no one seems to think I'm being crazy helicopter mom!  (Although someone is welcome to chime in with that perspective too. ;) )  I just appreciate the chance to get some feedback.

 

 

I think that being uncomfortable with a friendship is something that most moms of teens can relate to. :wink

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#10 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I posted my reply before I saw the response from Linda, I just wanted to quickly say that I appreciate your insight as well, thank you for such a thoughtful reply.  Just to clarify, while the friend's family does seem to have a bit more money than our family - although who knows, really - the discrepancy isn't that great and it isn't a problem for me.  It's more things like the friend has her own tv and phone, and takes many types of lessons, has more possessions and an overall larger house - things that we could afford if we chose, but we don't choose on purpose.  Learning that our family's choices may differ from what she sees around her (or that others just plain have more money than us!) is certainly a lesson that I want for her to learn and I didn't mean to suggest that I see a friend who has more "stuff" as being somehow unsuitable.  :)

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#11 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 03:16 PM
 
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 It's more things like the friend has her own tv and phone, and takes many types of lessons, has more possessions and an overall larger house - things that we could afford if we chose, but we don't choose on purpose. 

 

I understand better now. I've had many chats with my DDs about things like TVs! (never of my kids ever had their own TV, but it has gradually become of mute point because of wireless devices). We eventually got both kids their own phones because it allowed them more independence, but we've talked a lot about phones as tools, not status symbols. I think that as our children's worlds get bigger and they see friends' families making different choices, its a great time to talk about WHY we do the things. We've tried to keep entertainment options set up to encourage time together as a family, rather than every one off doing something separate, but it gets more challenging every year.

 

As far as lessons, are there lessons that your DD would like to be taking that she isn't? Why not? I think that allowing our kids as much self determination *within the bounds of our family's values* provides space for a more peaceful transition.

 

We talk about house size, mortgage size, and environmental impact. Those are all solid topics for kids as they grow up.


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#12 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 04:49 PM
 
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I vote for gentle honesty. Up til now, you haven't been honest with your DD because you are trying to avoid the truth, believing this to be the more gentle path. Honesty can be brutal, but it doesn't have to be. If you are honest while letting your DD have the space to feel her feelings she can learn and grow from this situation. Things to be honest about:

 

  1. Friendships need to be sort of even. I'm not one for keeping score, and I think that in a real friendship, one looses track of who called who last. However, this is totally lop-sided. Be direct and firm. Your DD can learn social nuances and you can teach them to her. Be direct - leave no room for confusion.
  2. The moral issues. This is a huge issue and one you need to talk to your daughter about, and be grateful for the opportunity to start what will be an ongoing dialogue for years to come. The values and morals of the people we chose to spend time with has a massive impact on our lives. Rather than trying to dictate who our children can and can't be friends with, I see it as our job to teach them to figure it out for themselves. You can still control this right now, but you really won't be able to in a few years to come, so rather than controlling it, start teaching her to make solid decisions that will help her to be happy with her own life.
  3. As far as privileged and indulged thing, that is something to examine your own feelings about and then talk to your DD about. There is a difference between just having nice things and thinking you are better than others because of what you have. If the family has more money and your DD envies it, then you can address that. My DH earns a very nice living and sometimes the things we have as a family make others uncomfortable, which really doesn't have anything to do with the fact that both my DDs are lovely people who are very kind to others, empathic, good students, etc. I would hate for some parent to not want my child to be friends with their because their child came home from my house wishing for a bigger house and a trip to Europe. It sounds like there are other issues in the friendship, but helping your DD learn to be happy with what she has in life while not giving her the message that people with something different are inherently bad would be better for your DD in the long run. Finances are just one part of life -- your DD has wonderful things in her life, everyone does. 

 

In short, try a little honesty with your DD. Rather than trying to manipulate the situation into going away, respectfully share your concerns with her.

 

YES, YES, YES!

 

Don't be afraid to let her be mad at you.  You are the parent and it's not cool to abdicate your authority (a very unpopular concept on MDC, but I one I wholeheartedly believe in nonetheless).  If you say the friendship is not beneficial, then that's your choice to make.  I do agree that it's only fair to explain your reasons to your dd though.  This is a learning opportunity and she will grow as a result of it.  If you handle it the way Linda described, all will be well.


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#13 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 08:45 PM
 
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I was just reflecting on this issue today!  I've dealt with a somewhat exaggerated/magnified version of what you're going through, for years.  My twins sons are mildly-moderately Autistic.  They attract some really nice friends, but also some kids who have trouble making friends (with anyone else) because of their off-putting behavior.  When I try to intervene in these friendships, not only do the twins feel a normal sense of anger and loss, but I find myself having to repeat ad nauseum why I'm doing it - because they're Autistic and I have to repeat everything many times, before it sinks in with them.  I have also crossed that bridge between being able to cut off a friendship of theirs, and no longer having that power.

 

In middle school (when the twins were 13-15, but had maturity levels closer to age 9-11), they developed a mutually-obsessive friendship with a boy who had few other friends.  He verbally bullied other kids, but constantly felt victimized himself.  He was terribly threatened by my sons having any other friends - and my kids, who are usually exceptionally kind and inclusive of everyone - alienated other friends by going along with this new kid, when he teased them.  It took me a while to learn this was going on.  In the meantime, this kid and my sons lobbied to spend absolutely all their free time together, to the exclusion of other friendships.  He joined my sons' sports team and they stopped being competitive and hung back with their friend, who did a lot of whining and giving up.  When I encouraged my kids to do their best regardless of their friend; or to invite other kids over sometimes, I became a threat to this friend.  He would insult me to my kids and they - who were usually so sweet and connected to me - tolerated it or joined him.  (Normal for some teens, maybe, but not them.)  He was like a needy teenage girlfriend.

 

When I decided to terminate the friendship, the Autism made it more clear for me (than it might be for you) that I couldn't do it half-way, or my kids would just resist and obsess without end.  No more get-togethers...I even sent the twins to a different high school than their friend.  (It wasn't ONLY because of him, but I would have done it, even if he had been the only reason.)  And I couldn't mince words.  I was direct and specific with them about what concerned me.  I explained the social rules their friend violated and that the twins only violated those rules when he was influencing them.  I said someday they'd be old enough to choose their own friends, but now - if they weren't ready to cut themselves off from this clearly unhealthy friendship - it was my job to do it for them.

 

They were angry.  One twin in particular was morose and bitter, for months.  It was so bad that I truly feared I'd done the wrong thing and had become PsychoMom.  But eventually, my kids saw some nasty thing this kid posted on Facebook and - without any input from me - they saw it for what it was; saw him for what he was and were offended by his meanness and self-centeredness and sympathized with the people he insulted.  The spell was broken.

 

They have a new friend who's not nearly as bad as the old one.  But he seems to have little adult supervision, no boundaries, he's crass, rude and I don't like how my kids act around him.  Today, we had a long talk about all this (not the first time).  I admitted that, since they're going into their senior year and have cell phones and personal computers, I can't cut off this friendship like before.  But since they're older, they should be mature enough to govern themselves - if not quit hanging out with this kid, at least dilute their time with him by hanging out with nicer friends more often.  Being older gives them power, but also the responsibility to think about what and whom they let influence them.

 

Your situation's harder, because it's less clear.  Your daughter's friend isn't "bad".  But maternal instincts are often sound.  If your gut tells you this friendship isn't healthy for your daughter, you're probably right.  But I don't think you can help her move on without stopping the get-togethers, being direct with her about why you're doing it, and weathering the storm that will follow.  The good news is, if she's neurotypical, she should get over it more easily than my gloomy son did.  It's bearable.


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#14 of 15 Old 05-27-2014, 08:54 PM
 
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I wouldn't worry too much about the money thing unless the girl deliberately tries to make your daughter jealous. You may need to remind your daughter about why some people choose to buy certain things over others, etc...and remind her of what your family finds more important. You don't want to put the girl down though, so avoid "tv in bedrooms is bad".

 

I did not have money growing up. I had an older cousin who's husband made a lot of money, and her kids were my age. I got to spend a lot of time with them and I saw that they were just like me. I also had a friend at school who was "well off". We became good friends, and to this day I am grateful for her friendship. Though she wanted for nothing, she was really sweet and down to earth about it. I wonder what would have happened had I never known people with money. Since most of my friends didn't have money growing up, there was some "I hate rich people" attitude going on, especially in the teenage years, but I knew better.

 

I also wouldn't worry too much about age difference unless the girl suddenly gets involved in sex and drugs and talks about it freely with your daughter. I had a good friend who was 3 or so years older when I was little. She taught me some bad words and told me about puberty and sex. It was confusing, and I wish I didn't know about it until I was a bit older (I was only 7), but other than that, I have only fond memories of her. Nothing inappropriate went on at all.

 

The kids in my neighborhood are mean and don't play nice. I never told my kids not to hang out with them...I just hoped they would stay away, and they did for the most part! It's so hard to find friends though! My kids only see friends at school or at after school activities (and they don't do a lot of activities). 

 

In a way I wish my parents had limited the amount of time I spent with my best friend. She was mean to me. We usually had a blast...we were inseparable best friends for a good 7 years, but looking back, I realize she was very manipulative, she lied, played tricks on me and talked behind my back, tried to make me jealous, etc. I realize now what an awful person she is, by comparing our friendship with other friendships I had growing up...No one else treated me that way. I eventually made other friends and learned what real friendship was. I guess what I am saying is that, as long as your daughter has some nicer friends, she will eventually get it. 

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#15 of 15 Old 05-28-2014, 08:25 AM
 
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this is a really hard situation to be in. 

 

i have the kind of dd who doesnt like mom poking her nose in her affairs even at 8. but who however is always open to a good chat. 

 

we have had that same situation twice. the first time i let it be. it was a neighbor kid who would come over everyday. after a while dd started noticing how mean that girl was and how she was manipulating dd. i think dd was able to notice that because of the amount of time they were spending together - with them in her room so away from my eyes. in front of me the girl behaved very nicely. behind my back - a whole nother story.

 

a year later another neighbor kid with far greater age difference. dd really loved her coz they shared so much in common. the girl wasnt mean or unkind to dd. she couldnt stop talking about boys and sex in front of dd. i finally had to sit and have a honest chat with dd and share with her why i didnt want her socializing with that girl alone without an adult present (she didnt bring those up around adults). the sad part is i kinda liked that teen myself. she was going through stuff and she'd come and seek advice from me. which was sweet and i enjoyed talking to her. but inappropriate conversation was just too much. i asked the teen not to bring up such issues around dd - but that was hard for her to do esp. when she had a crush. sadly it affected the girls relationship with me too. 

 

the good part about this has been it has helped dd discern her own friends. she has made friends and then figured she wasnt into their kind of talk or wouldnt allow them to bully her and slowly weaned them off of her. 

 

and it has taught dd how to be a good friend too and know what's appropriate as the circumstances have changed. dd has a couple of friends who are years younger than her. the youngest absolutely adores dd and dd visits their house quite often. there's what 5 years between them and this spring she was hired as a tutor for that little girl. 

 

dd has had quite a few questionable friendships since K. i've  not liked some of them - even in K, but i always felt i had to let dd find out for herself. and i discovered she learnt more from it than if i took action first. 

 

so in this case while i personally would not have stopped the friendship (which i feel you are not doing either, just limiting it which is wise) i would certainly recognize your dd wants an older friend which i think is very healthy for both kids. in the meantime i would look around and see if there are any older kids you like and encourage that. it was dd's older friends that helped her through her hard times when she started her periods and got advice about pmsing. 

 

i think by 10 its a very good idea for them to have teen friends. even if they hang out once in a while. 

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