In grade school, we experienced the extreme highs and lows of friendship, and probably broke up with at least one friend as a result. Friend break-ups are tough at any age, and are certainly not exclusive to our school years.
But how do you handle a friend break-up between two parents whose kids are friends?
I’ve had my share of friend break-ups over the years, including some that I still haven’t fully come to terms with. But none have affected me quite as much as those I’ve lost since becoming a mother, because now those break-ups affect my daughter too.
Recently, my daughter asked me why she hasn’t had a play date with one of her friends in a while. The truth is that her friend is the daughter of someone I’m not friends with anymore. So how do I explain that to my 5 year old?
After frantically trying to come up with a feasible answer, one that would satisfy her curiosity while still preserving her innocence, but I realized there wasn’t an easy way out of this one. I calmly explained that sometimes, friends stop being friends. After the inevitable “why,” I told her about the different reasons, and found myself smack in the middle of a life lesson – hers and mine.
As I described some of the break-up circumstances- when friends don’t agree and one of them takes it personally, when friends move away or grow apart or like different things, I could see her trying to process what I was saying. It was a lot to take in, especially for a little girl who wants to be friends with everyone all of the time.
The best thing I could do is be patient, answer her questions honestly, and instill in her that no matter where she is or how old she gets or how badly she’s hurt by a friend break-up, I would be there for her to turn to.
Friendships are crucial to our development, as kids and even as adults, and all of our experiences help shape us as individuals. We will make mistakes in those relationships, and will also be on the receiving end of what we’ll perceive as wrongs against us.
As parents, we can only hope the mistakes we make in life, and we will make many, will serve as lessons to our children. But in reality, it’s how we embrace and handle those mistakes where our children will learn and grow the most.