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Parenting

Providing a Sense of Belonging for Girls

Photo Credit: Cavan Images/Shutterstock

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You want a lot of things for your daughter, and a life rich in friendships is definitely among them. Having a great partner in crime (or two or three or five!) will give her a sense of belonging, enrich her sense of self, teach her about compassion and loyalty, and boost her confidence as she grows up and experiences all life has to offer.

Friends are special in our lives. They’re the ones we count on when times get tough. They’re the ones who share our secrets and make every day more fun. Friends are precious, which is why they’re likened to precious metals in one of the most famous Girl Scout songs of all time. But although the beloved lyrics insist we should “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold,” nowhere do they say “and by the way, you have to be friends with everybody.” And that might be hard to swallow in this age of social media, where one can have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of so-called “friends” online.

Teach your daughter to have respect for and be kind to all people.

 

Teaching your daughter to respect and be kind to all people is a must, but it’s important for parents to understand that actual friendship is something beyond respect or kindness, which develops between some kids and not others. So, even if you had high hopes that your girl would want to be forever friends with the daughter of your closest friend, it might not work out that way — and that’s okay.

Different people need different qualities in their friends. Perhaps your girl prefers outgoing kids who will spearhead adventures, or maybe she’s happiest playing quietly with other more reserved children. Choosing friends is a highly personal thing, and so many factors — from your girl’s interests to her sense of humor — will affect with whom she forms stronger bonds. Your girl will feel her best and most fulfilled in friendships that are based on those things, rather than forced into being friends over a sense of obligation or guilt. And very young girls often don’t even know why they are friends with someone and not with someone else: they just click (or don’t), and that, too, is totally okay and normal.

All that said, tricky situations can arise when your daughter wants to be friends with someone who doesn’t return her feelings of friendship. There’s no question that it doesn’t feel good when feelings of friendship aren’t returned. As her parent, you might even feel angry at any child that could make your girl feel so hurt. But remember that, just as you teach your daughter she can choose her own friends, this other girl has the same right.

Handling social disappointments gracefully is a skill we could probably all stand to work on — so unless you see signs of actual bullying or rude behavior toward your daughter, urge her to let it go and focus her energy on the friends she already has, or to seek out other, different children who might be looking for new friends, too.

CircleAround is operated by a wholly owned subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA. The site serves women nationwide by providing content that is uplifting, thought-provoking, and useful. We make revenue distributions back to GSUSA so they can further their mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

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