I Am Teaching My Teens That You Don’t Need a Ton Of Friends

It happened again; my daughter was in her room upset about something and I had a feeling it was another friend situation. 

I went upstairs to check on her a few times to see if I could get her to talk. I felt like I was walking on a tightrope — I wanted her to know I was there but if I went too fast, I knew she would push me away and I never would have been able to find out what was bothering her. 

You don’t need a big group of friends. (@maginnis via Twenty20)

My daughter’s friends left her out

Turns out some of her friends had a sleepover and she wasn’t invited. “I don’t care” she said, staring at her phone and avoiding eye contact. But obviously, she did care because it’s normal and natural to feel left out when your friends do something without you.

If I’m being honest though, I don’t care for these girls. They are somewhat new friends and seem to come in and out of her life when they want. If one of these girls is feeling left out by the others, she clings to my daughter because she knows my daughter will always be welcoming. It seems like once everything is okay with the core group, my daughter gets pushed out again.

How can I help my daughter navigate these often treacherous social waters

I’m not saying my daughter is the perfect friend. She’s not. I’m sure she’s guilty of doing these kinds of things, along with other things I don’t know about. Teenage girls are all navigating relationships and it’s our job, as their moms, to help them find their way without hurting other young women as they figure it out.

One thing I always tell my daughter is that it’s okay to have a tight circle of friends. She has two close friends who are always there for her. There doesn’t seem to be any drama, they lift each other up, and their friendship has lasted since they were in elementary school.

They have a special bond and I want her to appreciate that. I know in these days of social media, our teens feel measured by the size of their social circles. Their followers, likes, and number of people they can Snap with, seems to be the measure their self-worth. They feel like they need a huge group of friends, and that they have to be liked by everyone. 

True friends are rare and it’s okay if you only have a few of them

I want my daughter to know that true friends, the ones you can really count on, are rare. They are a gift that not everyone has, and there is nothing wrong with keeping your circle really tight. When it comes to friendship quality trumps quantity, every day.

When I was younger, I thought when it came to friends, more was more. I was always on the hunt to make new friends which wasn’t hard for me because I was very social. Now, I have a few close friends who I’ve had for thirty years. I’m so good with that. These are the friends who have stuck by me through life’s ups and downs even if we were living in different places or were in different phases of life.

Of course there have been other friendships that have come and gone depending on the stage of my life. The older I get though, the more I’m okay with letting certain friendships and people fade out of my life.

I don’t want my kids chasing friendships just to get their numbers up or thinking that the more friends they have, the better off they’ll be. 

As you get older you don’t need a hundred friends, just a few good ones

The truth is, there is only so much energy we have for nurturing and love in a few, true friendships. You just can’t give your closest friends enough of yourself when you are always looking for more people to add to your tribe. That doesn’t mean I’m teaching my kids not to let anyone else in. I just want them to know that after they graduate high school and as they get older having lots of friends matters less and less. 

What really makes a difference in someone’s life is having one or two true friends that they can trust and rely on. And honestly, when they become parents that’s all they’ve be able to handle anyway. 

The author of this post wishes to be anonymous.

More Great Reading:

10 Tips to Help Your Teen Navigate Friendships

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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