The news, television shows and movies often represent that girls and women don’t get along with each other. That they are jealous, combative and enjoy cat fighting. These representations are harmful in that they misrepresent the relationships of many of us but also they perpetuate a stereotype of girls and women that just isn’t accurate. Reality television shows such as, "The Housewives" series and "Keeping up with the Kardashians" are poor portrayals of what many women know to be true; women’s friendships are precious and growth producing.
This doesn’t always mean that these relationships are easily obtained or develop without thought and effort, anything but. Teen-aged girls seem to struggle the most in developing healthy girlfriend relationships. The advent of social media, posting whatever enters your mind at the moment, and constant sharing of where you are at and whom you are with, make teen relationships tense and volatile. Yet, as many adult women have learned there are a few secrets that lead to profoundly enriching, life long friendships.
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The healthiest friendships are honest and realistic. Friends admit in an open and kind manner when something is bothering them. When you feel excluded as a teen or as an adult, it’s ok to say so and to ask why you might be excluded. One of my good friends just got shafted on birthday wishes, not because she isn’t loved but because she isn’t on Facebook where you get reminded of birthdays. It’s also ok for teen girls to spend time in smaller groups but maybe it’s beneficial for them not to advertise that on social media. Nothing hurts more than seeing your friends having fun without you and knowing that you weren’t invited.
Great friendships stem from mutual admiration. Tell your friends how wonderful they are, how they help you and add to your life. Model for your daughter the behavior of complimenting your friends both in private and in public. Teen girls (for a variety of reasons) struggle with insecurity. Sometimes when they feel insecure it feels right to knock others down but in reality it feels even better to put jealousy to the side and to compliment and cherish others around you. Teach your daughter that gossip and criticism is hurtful to all and only ends in broken relationships and hard feelings.
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Part of my work is to bring divorced/divorcing women together to grow and support each other. I’m often amazed at the power they have as a group to aid each individual in finding their self-esteem and confidence. Women often start my group looking hopeless and defeated; they leave with a newfound belief in themselves that stems from the support of the group members. These women quickly find each other’s attributes and share them with each other. They see strength where none is felt and they see intelligence and beauty that many of them thought had been lost for good. Keep Reading...
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