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.
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.