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What to Do When Friends Are Unkind

Girls. They’re smart and fun and creative and sweet.


And not so sweet—sometimes.


Ask any woman who’s been through middle school and she’ll tell you girls can be catty, critical and downright mean to each other at times. The tween years are a prime season for developing close friendships, but even the best of friends will sometimes stumble through spats or judgment slips.


So what’s a girl to do when friends are unkind? Here are some tips for guiding your daughter through rough patches.


  1. We all have bad days and grumpy moods. Encourage your daughter to give her friend the benefit of the doubt and always forgive an unkind word or action. Why? Because Jesus forgives us. And He commands us to do the same for others.

    “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

  2. One of the best ways to repair a rift in a friendship is to pray about it. Your daughter can ask God to instill more kindness, selflessness, patience and forgiveness in her own heart first, then also her friend’s. As a bonus, she may discover it’s harder to stay mad at someone she’s asking God to bless.

    “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:28)


  1. Examine yourself. So your friend was unkind, but what part did you play (if any)? Did you do or say something to upset her? Have you been a good friend lately? Be careful not to suggest your daughter is to blame anytime someone is mean to her (that is NOT the lesson we’re going for here), but do encourage her to consider what Jesus says in Scripture:

    “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:4)

  2. Confront—kindly. Help your daughter muster the courage to address the problem directly with her friend. Not in anger or by playing the victim, but simply by explaining how the friend’s behavior made her feel. Sometimes girls don’t even realize what they said or did was hurtful. It’s much better to get it out in the open than to let hurt feelings fester.

    “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” (Matthew 18:15)


Decide if this person is really a friend. Is her unkind behavior an occasional incident or a constant problem? True friends will love as Jesus loves. If your daughter has confronted her friend gently and honestly yet the mean streak continues or turns to bullying, encourage her to pray and forgive—but then let go. Her time and energy are better spent on friends who build her up, not tear her down.

4 Things Your Tween Daughter Still Wants From You

4 things your tween daughter still wants from you

Your twelve year-old daughter saunters into the kitchen, head down, glued to her iPhone. This is clearly a case of “I’m in my own world, Mom. Don’t bug me.” Right?

Not necessarily.

More often than you might think, it’s “I’m bored, and it’s hard to tear my eyes away from this addictive screen, so could you help me out, Mom?”

No matter how many screens call out to your daughter, no matter what age and what attitude she’s at today, she’s still craving some very basic stuff. She may roll her eyes, stiffen her back a little, or throw some sarcastic comments your way as you try to be a great mom, but there are few things she needs from you today even though she’s not six years old anymore.

1. She still wants affection from you.

Not all girls are the touchy-feely type, especially as they approach their teen years, but your daughter, now just like always, needs an arm around her shoulder every now and then. She may need to be held tight every once in a while… by you, and by her dad.

The right kind of loving touch can remind both of you that you’re on the same team. It can diffuse tension and lessen the sting of constructive criticism. Use this powerful non-verbal form of communication to let your daughter know you’re there for her when she needs you.

2. She wants you to be excited about her victories.

Your world may be full of large-scale frustrations or victories. And the kick-over she just mastered may not be on the list of things you were worried about today. But when she’s thrilled about her progress, make sure you are too.

We all know how wonderful it is to have someone rejoice when we rejoice. Victories need to be acknowledged and enjoyed. And your daughter will measure your love by how happy you are for her in her victories, both large and small.

3. She wants you to care when she’s hurting.

Just like shared victories matter, shared sorrow matters. If she’s hurting over misunderstandings with friends, not making the team, or the hurtful comment her big brother made, hold back for a while from “let’s keep this in perspective” speeches. Just listen to her for a bit. Let her share what’s on her heart.

Mourn with those who mourn. You’ll be amazed at the amount of trust you build with her. She’ll know you’re a safe place, and she’ll confide in you again and again. There are certainly times to share all the right answers, but make sure you empathize and let her know your heart hurts along with hers.

4. She wants to be reminded of what’s truly important.

Your daughter, like all other girls her age, will go through phases of obsessions… phones, sleepovers, hairstyles, clothes. But she will also always know, deep down, that she was made for more than all that.

Your daughter was created by a God who wants a relationship with her. And she’ll never be able to fill the emptiness in her soul with anything other than Jesus. Remind her of this truth. She wants her life to have a purpose bigger than herself. Don’t let her buy the lie of the world that the universe should revolve around her.

Remind her with joy and passion that she has a calling in this life. It’s not easy for girls her age to be selfless, to look to God, but she wants to be reminded.

So next time you look at your growing daughter, whether or not she’s attached to some kind of addictive electronic device, read between the lines… 

She’s growing up, yes. And she doesn’t need you every second of the day like she did several years ago. But she still needs you to step into her life: to wrap her up in love, to rejoice with her, to weep with her, and to remind her of what’s really important. And she may very well put that iPhone down every once in a while for some time with Mom!


by Jennifer Ebenhack


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