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Three's a Crowd

There are some difficult lessons to be learned about human relationships during a lifetime, and we have to deal with some of the toughest ones in our tenderest years.

A friend of mine has a ten year old daughter who is presently going through the pain of a group of three friends splitting up, into one pair of best mates and one abandoned loner. My friend’s little girl is the one who’s been kicked out. I feel for her, I really do, I remember the same thing happening to me when I was eleven - that extra year giving no extra buffer - and I didn’t have to contend with social media and a world of more sophisticated methods to make a person experience isolation. I also feel for my friend.

It’s heartbreaking to watch our little loved ones in pain, knowing that they just don’t have the same emotional armoury as we do to deal with the cruelty of their peers.
However they are not helpless, and difficult though it is, it’s important that we let our children figure out their problems for themselves. Of course we can offer them support, they need to know that we are there for them, but our explicit advice may not be welcome. Don’t offer it unprompted, but let them know that you are available for them if they need to talk. What they need is to have their feelings validated, to be given reassurance as they try to cope with and regulate their own emotions.

My friend is wise enough to know that it’s not appropriate to take her daughter’s suffering on board herself - tempting though that can be - and that she needs to model resilience, showing her child that the rejection is not due to a failing in her, merely a failing in circumstance, and that at the very least, there is always love to be found at home.

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