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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there mamas,<br><br>
This may be a bit of a long story but I would really appreciate some insight.<br>
My DD had a friend at school who started giving her the cold shoulder, then started saying (less than considerate) things about not wanting to play with my DD and finally started asking other kids to exclude my DD. My DD spoke with me about it and was upset.... we brainstormed ways to handle it and she tried them. Finally, the teacher also retold the stories to me and told me that she was planning on speaking to this girls mom.<br><br>
The mother called me after speaking to the teacher and wanted to talk about ways to handle it and I suggested us getting the girls together to talk it through. We had all gotten together many times in the past when the girls were playing together. The mom was unresponsive to the idea and brought forth that five yr olds don't have the capacity to be empathetic and that we should just model friendship around them. While I agree to some degree, I really feel like this mom is validating her child's behavior. I'd like to believe that if that tables were turned I would want my child to acknowledge the actions and apologize.<br><br>
How would you respond? What is reasonable in your opinion? What makes this tricky for me is that I considered this mother a friend, but at the same time don't feel like she's acting in friendship by allowing her DD to behave this way.
 

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Have you considered just talking to the girl directly, yourself? You could be very frank and say, "X, DD is very sad that you exclude her. What has she done to make you act so mean?"<br><br>
You would be surprised how children change their ways when confronted by the parent of the other child....
 

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I think that I would ask the teacher to teach the children that excluding other children from play is not okay while the situations are going on. A lot of times kids will say things like "you aren't invited to my birthday party" or "I don't want to play with you" and if a teachers hears those things they should be intervening and asking the child how they would feel if another friend said that to them and then telling them that those words are not okay for the classroom. Behavior like this isn't exactly bullying but if it continues and recieves a lazy response from the teacher just because it is normal for kids this age it can turn into bullying later on. Talk to the teacher about it and make sure she isn't assuming that the kids already know this behavior is wrong, some teachers assume kids already know not to hit, name call, exclude friends, swear, etc... and then they don't make the right efforts to teach the children that these things are actually wrong for the school setting, they proceed to assuming the child is bad.
 

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What a crummy situation for your dd. So sorry.<br><br>
I agree with pp that you should involve the teacher in this more. But...<br>
ummm.. NO. I don't think you should "confront" the other child directly. If the tables were turned, I would not want another mom confronting my child. I would want to hear from the other mom and would definitely insist my child apologize.<br><br>
Sadly, I think you and this mom will have to part ways if she can't help her daughter correct this behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It was good to read your responses. Thank you.<br><br>
In terms of confronting the child by myself, I don't think it's such a bad idea, based on my past relationship with her, but there isn't any opportunity to do that now, without her mom around.<br><br>
The teacher is involved, she gets it and finds the situation unacceptable. We talked a lot about things she could do in the classroom to work on these issues, empathy vs exclusion.<br><br>
My real dilemma is about this mom and her disregard for my child and her validation of her own child. It's to the point that I am questioning if there is something wrong with my child and therefore her child is justified in her behavior. I think that's a irrational fear, although my DD is not perfect, but I am trying hard to understand her perspective. Do any of you get it?
 

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No, of course the mom isn't justified in seeming to validate her daughter's misbehavior! It's frustrating to deal with this-- I have a friend whose children are like this. Rather than correcting her daughter, she used to say (insincerely) "it breaks my heart that she acts like that because she's going to learn the hard way that friends don't like that." Well, the tables were turned in preschool when the other girls got tired of her bossy, rude behavior and started excluding her and this mom threw a fit and demanded the teachers deal with it. The other girls had basically learned exclusion from this one girl, who did it to them over many, many months. But when the girl was excluded, it was finally unacceptable to the mom. Personally, I like the mom, but I definitely don't agree with her parenting choices and we had to stop getting our kids together. I just email and phone her occasionally now.<br><br>
Sorry you have to deal with it.<br><br>
(Edited to clarify that I have boys... and they weren't involved in the squabble. I would have intervened with my daughter if she had excluded first or second.)
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>lovetomom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10783413"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">The mother called me after speaking to the teacher and wanted to talk about ways to handle it and I suggested us getting the girls together to talk it through. We had all gotten together many times in the past when the girls were playing together. The mom was unresponsive to the idea and brought forth that five yr olds don't have the capacity to be empathetic and that we should just model friendship around them. While I agree to some degree, I really feel like this mom is validating her child's behavior. I'd like to believe that if that tables were turned I would want my child to acknowledge the actions and apologize.</div>
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Hmmm...I think I can see a little bit of both sides.<br><br>
Do you think your mom friend might just want to give the girls a break a little bit? I think that's entirely valid. If my child was saying she didn't want to play with someone I wouldn't want to insist that she play anyway for fear that would go poorly, nor would I want to force an insincere apology. I would, however, want to let her know that pointedly excluding a child in a mean manner is not acceptable and is almost guaranteed to hurt feelings. A child learns empathy by being on the receiving end of empathy and 5 is not too young certainly to receive empathy or learn about being empathetic. I would tell my child if she didn't want to play with a friend just to say, "I don't feel like playing right now," rather than "I hate you! I never wanna be your friend! You can't come to my birthday party!" I think those statements are <i>developmentally appropriate</i>, but not <b>kind</b>.<br><br>
I am not aware of times that my dd1 has been the excluder except with her little sister, but I wouldn't be surprised if it has happened. She has, however, been excluded. It happens. It kinda blows, but friendships wax and wane. She's never lost a friendship because of this. The storm passes and the kids play together again and her very closest friends haven't done it that I know of. Two girlfriends at school this year excluded her this year, though, and wrote "I hate you" on a note. The teachers talked to the kids and I think one of the moms talked to her dd and the teacher talked to me, but I certainly didn't want those girls to be forced to apologize to dd1. That would have just further strained an already strained relationship. If they wanted to offer a sincere apology that would be really nice, though. If dd1 was the excluder I would probably ask her if she wanted to apologize and let her know that I thought her friend would probably like to hear, "I'm sorry. Do you wanna play?", but I wouldn't force her to do it. When we had this issue with the "I hate you" note, I was thinking about asking for a playdate outside of school and I think that would have been fine. Schedules just didn't coincide I think. It wouldn't have been to "talk" to the girls about it, though. I would have just let them play and encouraged kind behavior.<br><br>
So I can see where if the other mom thinks you want to lecture the girls then she might not want to play. I think it is entirely appropriate for her to validate her daughter's feelings if she doesn't want to play with your dd, but I think that her daughter can certainly be learning about empathy and how unkind words can really hurt. I think a playdate (with no lecturing or talking-to) could really help the situation.<br><br>
So does that help? I think modeling friendship is great. I think a playdate is great. I think letting the girls know when their friend might feel upset over something they do is great. I think <i>toddlers</i> can learn about empathy and certainly 5 year olds can, but I wouldn't expect them to be masters of it. It takes a lifetime for some people. I think taking a break is okay, too. You might call your mom friend back up and tell her you're still concerned and ask more about what kinds of ideas she might have to help. Ask her to expound on the empathy angle and the modeling good friendship angle and ask her concerns.<br><br>
hth some and good luck navigating the friendship waters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for that reply beanma<br>
It makes a lot of sense to me that, if the mom thought i wanted to lecture her kid, that she wouldn't want to get together. I didn't want to lecture her kid though. My DD wanted to tell her DD how she felt and when my DD tried to talk to her DD at school she wouldn't listen to her. I think my intention was really just to get together and have a nice time and if my DD felt right about it, I thought she might be able to express how she felt.<br>
Anyways, I agree that forced insincere apologies are not the way to go and a little space from it all seems like a good approach for now (until perhaps school is back on and we have to face it again).<br>
Thanks for providing food for thought.
 

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Now that my 5yr old is the younger one, I have a few years experience learning about this stuff with his big brother who's now in grade 2.<br><br>
I would ask DD if she wants to invite this girl over to play or to go swimming or something. Just so they can bond. If she wanted to do that I would just make it fun and not talk much about the other stuff very much if at all. I might mention it positively like "isn't it so much more fun when we all egt along?" or something and leave it at that.<br><br>
I think what you are doing with your daughter is awesome! Teaching her some methods to deal with these situations goes a long way.<br><br>
But most importantly IMO as a general rule I make myself accessible for the kids to tell me what's going on and really try to follow their lead. I use a lot of encouraging statements to get them to tell me what's up and I used a lot of empathetic responses. But I try not to inject my own conclusions or project my own experiences. I try not to get involved. At 5 they begin to develop their own complex social spheres and we can never completely understand all the dynamics involved. It's a really important part of growing up---all the soap opera stuff that goes on. And they tend to work through it all on their own. It's painful to see your child getting hurt and feeling rejected, but if she isn't using some social skills then sometimes the schoolyard is the place where she learns that. And that's ok! It's difficult, but it's healthy and ok.<br><br>
Of course I draw the line at bullying. And I do definitely maintain communication with teachers and staff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi Mamajama<br>
Thanks for your response. I agree that the soap-operas are important and I'm trying to give my DD the space to process it and work it through.<br><br>
That being said, while I am trying to understand my DD's role in this, I do feel that exclusion is often random and just hurtful. I know my DD has social skills to learn and in this case I think those are that some people are just mean.
 

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One thing to point out is that from the other side of the issue, if we do succeed in 'forcing' kids to play together, what have we really accomplished? I'd say instead that this is a golden opportunity for our dc to learn that others don't <i>really</i> have the power to determine our feelings <i>or</i> our self worth. This is of course challenging to get across to a very young child, but it can be done. And to be honest, I think the other mom was actually right in one sense - many 5 year olds really can't yet be empathetic, and that modelling really IS the most effective way to teach it. We all want our kids to have empathy, and they will. But <i>expecting</i> it at 5 may be futile in many cases. Exclusion is only intentionally hurtful when the excluder truly has the capacity to not only intend hurt, but to put herself in the place of another, which doesn't really happen until the frontal cortex forms fully, anywhere from late teens to early adulthood. Not saying the reciever doesn't feel hurt, just doesn't <i>have</i> to.
 

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I wanted to post as the mother of an "excluder." My DD will be 6 in April, and man, have we been having a tough time negotiating the friendship waters in kindergarten. DD was rejected by her BFF in the fall, and ever since, has been rejecting/excluding another girl who's made friendship overtures to my DD. I'm extremely empathetic, and it's so tough for me to hear DD talk meanly about this perfectly nice girl. The other girl's mom called me a couple times to talk about it, which I was perfectly open to. DD certainly wasn't telling me everything, so it was only by talking to the other mom and the teacher that I got the whole picture. I talked to my DD about it until I was blue in the face, but she just got the idea that friendship was "too much work," and she "doesn't need friends." <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> I finally told the other mom I thought the girls needed a break, and her DD should just ignore my DD for the time being. If my DD wound up having nobody to play with at recess, it would be her own fault. I know I sound really mean and cold-hearted, but it is just not OK for my DD to be a mean girl and inflict emotional damage on her peers.<br><br>
So we've gotten DD's teacher and the school counselor involved, and that has helped more than anything. The teacher also had a talk with other girls in class, and told them something along the lines of, "When Marlena bosses you around, I want you to stand up for yourselves, but still let her know you love her and want to be her friend." That empathy and kindness from her peers seems to help so much. Even her original BFF she had a spat with earlier has become friendly with my DD again, and DD is so thrilled about that.<br><br>
Anyway, I couldn't read and not post. OP, I hope that after spring break, tensions will have eased a little bit. And as a mom on the other side, I don't think it could hurt anything to have another talk with the other girl's mom. I'm sure she doesn't want her daughter to, as my DD's teacher put it, "be in third grade with nobody to play with, because they've been burned by her in the past."
 

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Oh my god I want to throw up. Reading things like this makes me want to homeschool. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> I would die if this happened to my dd (also in kindergarten).<br><br>
Anyway, my thoughts are that it doesn't really matter WHY the little girl feels the way she does about your dd, the point is that she is a bully, and her bullying BEHAVIOR towards your dd needs to stop a.s.a.p. I would not push for a reconciliation or a mediation to understand her POV, I would just insist on the behavior change that is needed. I would rope in a meeting iwth the school teacher, the other mother and you so the three of you adults can figure out how to bring about this change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
<i>I'd say instead that this is a golden opportunity for our dc to learn that others don't really have the power to determine our feelings or our self worth.</i><br><br>
While I totally agree with this, I would really like to hear how you or others would approach it in this situation.<br><br>
and as for this,<br><i>Exclusion is only intentionally hurtful when the excluder truly has the capacity to not only intend hurt, but to put herself in the place of another, which doesn't really happen until the frontal cortex forms fully, anywhere from late teens to early adulthood. Not saying the reciever doesn't feel hurt, just doesn't have to.</i><br><br>
I don't agree with it and would really appreciate hearing how you would explain this one to the receiver, so they don't <i>have to</i> feel hurt.<br><br>
Thank you
 

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A few months ago, I would have been surprised by this post - now it is common place. My daughter (5, in kindie) has a few scenarios like the poster described - either really bossy and commanding which girls can play with who, or excluding some of the girls. I was taken abake. It doesn't affect my child directly - she has her one little friend ... but I do talk to my daughter a fair bit about how the other girls must feel, and how mean it is to exclude ... the whole 'how would you feel'. (We are also working on this concept because of sibling issues - minor, but real).<br><br>
The teacher must be aware of them - as she has mentioned to me that my daughter (and her little friend) will be placed together in Grade 1 - but some children will be specifically broken up because of the issues above.<br><br>
I wouldn't confront the parent too much - this could pass. She is aware and is hopefully working with her daughter to improve her behaviour. I do agree with the one post that we should encourage our 'excluded' children that friendships can be a bit passing.<br><br>
Sad isn't it - I have a boy starting pre-kindie next year, I am interesting in seeing what the boy dynamics are compared to girls. Girls learn young.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>lovetomom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10814298"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">That being said, while I am trying to understand my DD's role in this, <b>I do feel that exclusion is often random and just hurtful.</b> I know my DD has social skills to learn and in this case I think those are that some people are just mean.</div>
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I agree. If it would make you feel better to be validated, there is a book about girl bullying called "Odd Girl Out" which is about this kind of behavoir. It is well researched and written, and your library should have it.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>laoxinat</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10814721"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I'd say instead that this is a golden opportunity for our dc to learn that others don't <i>really</i> have the power to determine our feelings <i>or</i> our self worth. This is of course challenging to get across to a very young child, but it can be done.</div>
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I agree. It is quite a difficult lesson and one that many of us adults still have to work on from time to time, but you can start teaching your DD this now. Helping your DD learn to focus on the things in her life that are working, on building friendship with people who are nice back, and letting go of icky crap from the not nice people are important life lessons. And I wouldn't invite the rude child over for a play date, but rather spend time and energy helping my child build friendship with kids who are nice to her, and whose parents seem to respect that my child has feelings, too.<br><br>
Don't let the mean people get you down. Who you really are is bigger and more amazing than they can understand.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">And to be honest, I think the other mom was actually right in one sense - many 5 year olds really can't yet be empathetic,</td>
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I totally disagree. As the mom of closely spaced kids, I find all comments about kids not being able to understand that other people have feelings just like they do, because they are too young to understand it, absurd. This can be taught to quite young children. However, you can't teach it to somebody else's child so it is a mute point.<br><br>
I think that seeing your DD as a strong person who is capable of handling difficult situations will help. If you see her as a victim, she will start to see herself that way, and it will only make this situation worse. She is a strong person, and seeing her strength even when she can't will help her find it.<br><br>
My favorite kids movie is "Meet the Robinsons." It is about a little boy who is stuck on the past and therefore not living in the present. Through a series of events, he learns to let it go. The theme song from this movie is just beautiful. It might be a nice movie to watch together and talk about the characters and how they deal with things.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>RomanGoddess</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10783584"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">, "X, DD is very sad that you exclude her. What has she done to make you act so mean?"</div>
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OMG please don't ever say that to my kids. They would have nightmares about being shamed.<br><br>
I suggest the "I notice you are not playing with DD. What's up with that?"
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for your responses and thanks Linda for the movie suggestion.<br><br>
I also agree that you cannot teach another person's child empathy, especially when it is not modeled or validated by their parents. It is so disappointing to me that I didn't pick up on this sooner. The way the siblings in this girl's home treat each other, and are taught to treat each, should have signaled to me that our values are not inline...<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

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I think you can certainly model empathy for the excluder. I would start with just ...oh shoot...whaddya call it? active listening? not sure. Anyway, if you did have a minute with the other girl I think you certainly could say something to her and try to instill some empathy. First you've gotta give it, though. So if the opportunity ever presented itself, the dialogue might be something like this:<br><br>
-----<br><br><i>lovetomom</i>: So FriendDd, I heard you didn't wanna play with myDd today?<br><br><i>FriendDd</i>: Yeah, I just didn't want to.<br><br><i>lovetomom</i>: You just didn't want to.<br><br><i>FriendDd</i>: Yeah! Sometimes she wants to do silly stuff I don't like.<br><br><i>lovetomom</i>: She wants to do silly stuff.<br><br><i>FriendDd</i>: Yeah.<br><br><i>lovetomom</i>: I see. Well, I'm a little concerned that she's feeling left out. Have you ever felt left out? It's a really yucky feeling and I sure don't want her to feel that way. You think she does silly stuff and I don't want her to feel yucky and left out. Do you think we could come up with a solution that solve that problem without hurting feelings?<br><br><i>FriendDd</i>: No. She does silly stuff!<br><br><i>lovetomom</i>: Hmmm...well have you tried asking her to play a different way? Another thing you might consider is letting her know you don't want to play right now. Sometimes when kids have strong feelings about things they use strong words and sometimes strong words can hurt feelings. Sometimes all you need, even if you have strong feelings, are gentle words like, 'I don't wanna play right now'. Do you think you could try using gentle words next time and maybe explain how you like to play when you do wanna play? Remember, too, that playing is teamwork and you'll have plenty of fun if you work together and take turns.<br>
-----<br><br>
I dunno. Just a sample dialogue. I wish that I would remember to talk to my own kids that way, much less someone else's kid, but if the opportunity ever did present itself giving empathy is a really important first step.<br><br>
Again, in my experience, a lot of times these things do blow over. Another thing you might think about is setting up a playdate with another girl in class in an effort to sort of insulate your dd from the intensity of the friendship with this girl. If she's got someone else to turn to when things get rough with this girl then that can help soften the blow a lot.<br><br>
hth and hope it blows over soon,
 

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As mom of an older girl, I would suggest two things.<br><br>
1. I WOULD approach the other mom again (if the behavior is continuing) and I would give her very specific phrases that she can arm her child with that allow her to NOT play with your dd (or anyone else) in a much more socially appropriate way. Maybe she doensn't have/know them intuitively, and giving those to her would be a big step forward for them.<br><br>
2. I would thank the teacher a LOT. It sounds like she is doing really well working with the girls. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"> Meanwhile, I would empower your dd by setting up playdates with other kids (boys and girls, even having mini-parties of 2-3 kids when the weather is right for a couple hours of outdoor play), and by reminding her in consistent and somewhat subtle ways that you trust her, that she is strong, that she makes good choices, that she is made of amazing!<br><br>
I would definitely just drop this woman as a 'friend'. How lame to allow your dd to feel this way! There was one time when my dd (now almost 10 and way past doing this stuff!) was mean to our neighbor's child (wouldn't invite her to her b'day party). I didn't force it, but since the party was going to be outside, I felt I should let the mom know that I felt badly, but dd didn't feel her dd would fit in at the party (she's 3 yrs. younger, so not hard to make that leap lol - it's just that they play together every week, nearly every day - certainly every day in summer when we're around!). I suggested that she might want to take her out for a couple hours, and told her when the party was. I also made her a goody bag and told her that she could say that the party was during a time when she *couldn't* come, so that she would feel appreciated. Dd was good w/this plan. I think reaching out to another child is ENTIRELY appropriate, and I do it a lot w/my little one (3) who tends to be quite, um, physical with other children (ok, he hits. There, I said it!). I will not force HIM to apologise, but I DO apologise to the child he hit right in front of him, so that they know that it's not ok w/us that O hits, and that I feel badly that they GOT hit. It wouldn't be all that hard for this mom to reach out to your dd and say hey, I'm sorry dd is acting this way. I really like blahblahblah and miss you playing at our house. I hope things change again soon! A quick hug, and move on. Validating your dd, allowing her dd to have opinions (that others don't have to agree with), and making things right. Shame on her.<br><br>
Lastly, it IS ok for kids to learn these things, though they are bumpy curves for them to navigate. Protecting them from every little thing doesn't really help them in the end, there is no life untouched by grief in some way. So these little bumps give them the training they need for big rejections later in life - jobs, schools, broadway plays, you know - all the good stuff! I got rejected from a Fulbright, and WOW did that ever hurt! When I thought back on it (long after lol) I realized I couldn't actually remember the last time I'd been actually rejected! It wasn't, in this case, my parents being overprotective, lots of other ISSUES came up for me, but not rejection specifically.<br><br>
Sorry, going off here. Basically just drop the mama as a friend, keep feeding your dd the love and power she needs from you, and build her world up in other ways. Good luck!
 
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