Between my three teens there’s a lot going on in the friend department. This includes but is not limited to drama, changing friends, having a house full of kids who eat all the food, misunderstandings, hurt feelings and borrowing clothes. My kids occasionally (very occasionally) want my advice on the topic of friendship.
I love when they do because I consider myself an expert in the friend department (I cared about friends and my social life way more than I cared about the academic part of school). Unfortunately, it’s extremely rare that they ask anything of me even though I make myself available and drop hints about my trials and tribulations on the regular.
I do realize times are so different now– our kids simply live in a different world than we did when we were teenagers and because of that, I see my kids shut down when I try to compare my friendship stories with something that may be going on with them currently. I still feel that my experiences are relevant and helpful to my kids.
The Things I learned As A Teenager 30 Years Ago Can Help My Teens
It’s easy to block someone on social media if they have wronged you. We still got the same satisfaction 30 years ago by ripping up the picture we had hanging up of our best girl on our full-length bedroom mirror, scribbling out their face in the year book, taking the phone off the hook, or asking our little brother or sister to screen our calls.
My little sister would do this for me and always tell the person I was “blocking,” that I didn’t want to speak to with them. Which, if you think about it, is a lot like blocking someone on Instagram or leaving a Snap open; you don’t want to see them or communicate with them and you get a lot of satisfaction knowing they know you don’t want anything to do with them.
Borrowing clothes happened then, too
This was one of my favorite things to do with my friends. It’s so convenient these days because you can give your friend a tour of the closet during a video chat and really narrow it down instead of lugging 5 outfits to them for school and hoping they’d find something to wear for your double date that Friday night.
Your tribe was always changing
Friend swapping has always happened. These days, I’ve seen my daughter break up with a friend, then get back together only to be on the fritz again, all in the same night. When I was in high school, the process took much longer. You had to wait to see each other in school, or get through with a phone call to have a chat. There wasn’t this constant opportunity to check your phone and send 100 messages back and forth in under an hour while you were supposed to be doing your homework.
Talking behind each other’s backs has always been a thing
This has been happening since the beginning of time. There are just must opportunities to do it now. Back in my day, we’d talk on our oversized pink rotary phones in our rooms clutching stuffed animals, meet up after school (secretly) or try to pass an unnoticed note during class to vent.
Your love life can interfere with a friendship
This happened all through high school as well as college: someone gets a boyfriend or girlfriend and suddenly there is less time for friendship. It’s hurtful. Even if you can keep up with all your besties via FaceTime these days, they still want to see you in the flesh. A quick text will not replace a real date with a friend.
A true friend will always have your back
Whether it’s in person, or on a group chat, your bestie will always be rooting for you and they will never, ever break the trust code the two of you have built.
If something feels off, it totally is
A lot of things have evolved over the decades; phones, computers, how homework gets done, and how we can order something online and get it that same day. But nothing can interrupt your gut feeling. That’s not something to be ignored, even if an Instagram post or a text conversation has eased your mind, or leaves you less time to think about if someone has treated you poorly. If someone is making you feel like you can’t trust them, or they are using you, go with that feeling and adjust accordingly (see number 1).
Being alone on a Friday night isn’t fun, but it’s better than hanging out with peers who don’t bring out the best in you
There can be times as a teenager you don’t want to be alone, you want to fit in, and you believe you are the only one staying in on a weekend. I want my teens to value their worth as a person and not feel so desperate to fit in they are willing to compromise themselves and what they believe. And sometimes that means staying in with your parents, as horrible as that sounds.
In the long run, it will be better than going and doing something they know they shouldn’t that could have consequences. It wasn’t “cool” to say no in the ’80s and ’90s, and it’s still a struggle today. But, it’s always better than losing phone and driving privileges.
Keep the friends around who are honest
My best friend in high school always told me if my jeans were too tight or my green eyeshadow looked like I had two pieces of broccoli instead of eyeballs. You can do this nicely and I believe you should offer this service to your friends. I want my kids to know that a true friend isn’t afraid to hurt their feelings by warning them that they have roast beef in their teeth, or that they heard the person they like doesn’t like them back. A true friend will risk making you feel bad to save you from making a big mistake.
When it comes to social situations, my teens don’t think of me as being “in the know,” nor do they want to listen to my experiences. It will only be a decade or so until they realize that I had a lot more to offer than they thought I did and that they should have enlisted my help a lot more than they did.