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Hello,
My DD is 9 years old and has been BFFs with another 9 year girl of some very close family friends for about 3 years now. We have vacationed together, done camps together, babysat while the parents had a getaway, spent holidays, the list goes on and on. Over the past three months, the girls have been increasingly not getting along. My DD has loved this little girl like no other. I've never been convinced her friend felt quite the same way towards my daughter, but I know she always liked her and had fun with her. To explain, my DD is a little more reserved while her friend is super outgoing and has a very strong personality. She makes friends very easily while mine is a little more cautious about who she becomes close with. But when together, my daughter warmed up to her and is very outgoing and silly/goofy/talkative with her as she got to know and trust her - it warmed my heart watching the two of them play while us adults socialized together - all was good!

I feel lately that this other girl is pushing my daughter away and instigating senseless arguments. (ie. Whose ballet school is better, if you get a "3" in school instead of a "4" then you're dumb, etc.) She'll tell my DD (seemingly out of the blue) to "leave her alone" after they've been playing together and to "quit following her". On top of that, a new girl entered the picture (these girls are all younger sisters of their older brother's soccer team), and my DD's friend made quick friend's with the new girl while my daughter in typical fashion got left behind since she's way less outgoing and shy to warm up to new people. The latest argument escalated to the point where the friend called my DD dumb and stupid, my DD reciprocated those words right back, her friend splashed water from a water bottle on her, my DD then pinched her, and finally the friend told her "I officially hate you"! UGH!

I am not a Mom who thinks my DD is innocent and perfect and did nothing wrong. My kids know my mantra "It takes two to tango"! She and I have discussed at length what she could have done differently, and I held her totally accountable for pinching her, saying mean things, and continuing the argument when she should have just walked away. But a week after this argument my DD tried to make amends and play with her when we were all together, but her friend is apparently still mad and began gossiping to the "new girl" about all the bad things my DD did and said, causing them to gang up on her. And then while climbing on some bars, she got on top of the bars and peeled off my DDs fingers so that she would fall. Which she did, right on her stomach. So my DD glared at her, walked away and came over by me. I was proud she didn't say or do anything back.

What am I to do regarding these wonderful family friends of ours? I haven't talked to her Mom about it, I don't know if she even knows about any of it from her DD. My husband and I so enjoy hanging out as families, and they have been our best friends in these recent years. But I can't stand the way my daughter is being treated lately by her, and I don't want the two of them playing. I'm worried we'll just drift apart. I'm worried about approaching the subject because I don't want to come off as accusatory or criticizing her parenting or placing all the blame on their DD. Plus I know my DD would run back to her if and when this girl decides to get over this latest tiff. I'd like for them to remain friends, and make this a teachable moment for the girls. It's so common at this age, it's like a right of passage for all girls to go through these fights. They are learning how to manage friendships and resolve conflict and I feel as though they need guidance. But I also want to teach my daughter that she shouldn't let people treat her like this. Because if she goes through life letting people treat her badly, it could spell disaster down the road. Please advise, I don't know what to do.
Thanks so much!
 

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Hello,
My DD is 9 years old and has been BFFs with another 9 year girl of some very close family friends for about 3 years now. We have vacationed together, done camps together, babysat while the parents had a getaway, spent holidays, the list goes on and on. Over the past three months, the girls have been increasingly not getting along. My DD has loved this little girl like no other. I've never been convinced her friend felt quite the same way towards my daughter, but I know she always liked her and had fun with her. To explain, my DD is a little more reserved while her friend is super outgoing and has a very strong personality. She makes friends very easily while mine is a little more cautious about who she becomes close with. But when together, my daughter warmed up to her and is very outgoing and silly/goofy/talkative with her as she got to know and trust her - it warmed my heart watching the two of them play while us adults socialized together - all was good!
I've been in a similar situation and my first suggestion is to not throw the adult friendship out the window due to the girls growing apart or needing time apart. You can still socialize and even vacation and have holidays together and the girls just play separately.
I feel lately that this other girl is pushing my daughter away and instigating senseless arguments. (ie. Whose ballet school is better, if you get a "3" in school instead of a "4" then you're dumb, etc.) She'll tell my DD (seemingly out of the blue) to "leave her alone" after they've been playing together and to "quit following her". It may sound bad on my part but over the years, I've found that this is just how kids are on occasion. On top of that, a new girl entered the picture (these girls are all younger sisters of their older brother's soccer team), and my DD's friend made quick friend's with the new girl while my daughter in typical fashion got left behind since she's way less outgoing and shy to warm up to new people. I would not focus on the new girl and instead encourage your DD to make new/additional friends. I understand this is a factor but overall meeting new people is probably the more important. The latest argument escalated to the point where the friend called my DD dumb and stupid, my DD reciprocated those words right back, her friend splashed water from a water bottle on her, my DD then pinched her, and finally the friend told her "I officially hate you"! UGH! Yes, sounds like both had over the top reactions but you are on top of it.

I am not a Mom who thinks my DD is innocent and perfect and did nothing wrong. My kids know my mantra "It takes two to tango"! She and I have discussed at length what she could have done differently, and I held her totally accountable for pinching her, saying mean things, and continuing the argument when she should have just walked away. But a week after this argument my DD tried to make amends and play with her when we were all together, but her friend is apparently still mad and began gossiping to the "new girl" about all the bad things my DD did and said, causing them to gang up on her. And then while climbing on some bars, she got on top of the bars and peeled off my DDs fingers so that she would fall. Which she did, right on her stomach. So my DD glared at her, walked away and came over by me. I was proud she didn't say or do anything back. This all sounds pretty bad I'd consider the friendship over. Especially at age 9, everyone involved should know better, those are clear signs/behaviors not to associate with the girl. Downgrade the friendship to acquaintance level.

What am I to do regarding these wonderful family friends of ours? Possibly nothing, just that there's a change and at events and gatherings there is no expectation that the girls will interact. I haven't talked to her Mom about it, I don't know if she even knows about any of it from her DD. It up to you to decide to say anything. If the mom brings it up you can go over the incidents. But overall, I'd guess that the mom knows how her DD reacts. My husband and I so enjoy hanging out as families, and they have been our best friends in these recent years. But I can't stand the way my daughter is being treated lately by her, and I don't want the two of them playing. Maybe when the families get together your DD will stay closer to you or let her bring a long another friend, assuming the other girl will be as well. I'm worried we'll just drift apart. I'm worried about approaching the subject because I don't want to come off as accusatory or criticizing her parenting or placing all the blame on their DD. Plus I know my DD would run back to her if and when this girl decides to get over this latest tiff. I'd like for them to remain friends, and make this a teachable moment for the girls. It's so common at this age, it's like a right of passage for all girls to go through these fights. Encourage civility (which you have done) but in the end they just might not want to be friends. I see that as a way of working through it. They are learning how to manage friendships and resolve conflict (throwing someone off monkey bars because you want to play with someone else is not resolving conflict) and I feel as though they need guidance. But I also want to teach my daughter that she shouldn't let people treat her like this. Because if she goes through life letting people treat her badly, it could spell disaster down the road. Please advise, I don't know what to do. Let your DD's friendship go but do not assume that your relationship with the parents has to end.
Thanks so much!

Hi, I bolded some thoughts within your post. I was in a similar situation and can add more if needed. At 9 years old, kids sometimes change friend groups so I think focusing on cultivating good friendships for your DD is key rather than working on this particular friendship. Then as for the family friends, I wouldn't worry so much about losing them as your friends due to the DDs. As kids age, gatherings and interactions change but the socializing as families does not have to all out end.
 

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I agree with much of what EasyDoesIt said.

When I was little I remember having fights like that with my 'best friend.' We laugh about it now (we are in our 50's). I am not saying that these two girls will be best friends again only that kids can be really mean and we adults have lost tough with that because we often micromanage kid's interactions. My mother and her best friend had kids and we all called each other cousins. We still got together our whole lives and sometimes we were horrible to each other. Our moms didn't care, they still got the families together and let us be kids. We are still in touch to this day with these 'kids' (moms are long gone).

If I were you I would let it ebb and flow. Just because the other girl is being mean doesn't mean you have to stop interacting with the adults. Your child might have been mean too and you might not have seen it. Kids 'try on' being mean. Most kids decide they don't like the feeling they get when the act that way. I wouldn't confront the other mom about it, maybe just mention that it seems like the girls are going thru a phase where they aren't as keen on each other and maybe just going out to dinner with them and leaving the girls home might work for a little while. Let it 'be' and hopefully it will work itself out.
 

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It is super common for kids who were "friends of convenience" (i.e. similar-aged kids who one sees frequently due to family circumstances) to grow apart as they get to age 8-10. Personal interests, preferences, personality style, individual social circles, affinities, values and such begin to take on a much greater importance. I agree with comments above; if the two families are together there need be no expectation that the girls will play together. If you are all together, maybe encourage your dd to bring a book, or to hang out with the adults, or help with the cooking, or whatever might fit the bill). For now at least, let your two families drift naturally apart a bit. If the other parents are oblivious to the issues and feel like they're being brushed off, say something gentle like "The girls are drifting apart a bit and I think it's been a bit difficult for both of them ... I get the feeling that for now we shouldn't push things. We'd love to keep doing [adult-only activity of some sort?] with you guys though."

They may drift back together over time, or they may not. Regardless, parental efforts to solve their conflicts and encourage more of a relationship now than they want will likely backfire.

Miranda
 
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