My 11-year-old son just started middle school this year. He’s always been an extremely well-mannered and mature child and for this reason, tends to be friends with girls. He says the other boys are “gross, rude and childish”. Well, being friends with girls was a fine solution up until this year. I suppose the girls are going through “the change” because they’ve become much more prone to outbursts, drama, back-stabbing, crying, and just out-right mean behavior. My son has been in the middle of this all year as the girls fight and become friends again, over and over, always pulling him into the middle of it. He’s very frustrated because his friends are acting so different and no matter how much he tries to counsel them, they’re back at it the very next day. He’s starting to feel lonely. What sort of advice can I give him?
Dear Concerned Mami,
Great question! First of all, congratulations on having your 11-year-old son come to you to discuss and process these experiences. So, how should you advice him?
First, I would try to contextualize things and avoid generalizations. You can begin by letting him know that adolescence can be tough a time for both boys and girls for many reasons. This is a time when teens are trying to figure out a lot of things (e.g., who they are, who to hang out with). In addition, there are real changes going on in their bodies that can affect how teens feel and react to certain situations. One of the most common experiences in adolescence is feeling insecure and confused.
I would explain to your son that perhaps his female friends are feeling insecure with other female peers, and are having a hard expressing that insecurity. This can lead to them acting in ways that are out of character for them. You should also remind him, however, that this can also happen to boys, but that it may not happen in the same way.
Last, let him know that many of these behaviors can be temporary, and that his real friends will come around in due time. I would praise him for being so mindful about his friends, and would encourage him to continue to have these types of discussions with you.
Great job, mom!
La Comadre, Angelica Perez-Litwin, founder and writer of ModernFamilia, is a Certified Professional Life Coach and has a Family Life Coaching practice. She has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and over 15 years of clinical experience as a psychotherapist and counselor. Email your questions to: [email protected]