Recommend resources on tween/teen girl social stuff - for girls and for parents

Yeah, my kid is 10 and I’m starting to just see the terrifying complexity of this part of her life as it will develop over the next decade. Hearsay, gossip, evaluating the reliability of a source, feuds, grudges, cliquishness, what’s the dividing line between being a nasty exclusionary clique and playing with the friends you like best, worrying about your reputation, wanting everyone to like you, dealing with explicit and implicit social threats such as “I’m going to destroy your reputation!”, and learning how to nut up and talk directly yet kindly to the people who may have a problem with you.

That’s all just one situation, by the way. And there are no romantic subplots yet. Og help us when boys and crushes are in the mix.

So, any good books, web sites, Very Special Episodes, pamphlets, etc. that y’all have found particularly valuable? Any thoughts or advice on what has worked for you as a kid or a parent? (I’m useless - my social life devolved steadily until I left high school early to escape.)

I have lots of ideas for each aspect of the problem, but I’m seeing that these problems aren’t going to present as simple questions - it’ll most likely be a tangle of issues where a coherent and memorable, but actually useful piece of advice is going to be difficult to craft.

Here’s one coherent piece of advice that may seem obvious, but I think it’s important: Be a safe place for your daughter as she navigates the social world. Don’t be the one telling her that she should be friends with Jane rather than Jill, or ask why she wasn’t invited to the party, or worry about her reputation as something that will affect you (“what will the neighbors think?”) That’s not to say that you can’t guide her and provide advice, but make it clear that no matter what the gossip says, or which clique is excluding her, she still has a unique and valued place in her family. Having a solid foundation at home can build confidence and make her feel like things will be O.K. no matter how complex and tortured the rest of her relationships get. I know too many mothers who are overinvested in their daughters’ social success, to the point where the daughter feels like she’s failing her mother when things go wrong. Don’t be that mother. Be the one who makes her daughter feel like she will still have your love and respect even if she never has a boyfriend or gets to hang with the cool girls.

My daughter is 11, and I really enjoyed reading Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World. And I encouraged her to flip through it, too. Some really good explanations in there about social structures at that age.

While I liked “Queen Bees…” I thought Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls had more substance.

My mom and I would read and discuss Carolyn Hax’s advice columns. It was a great way to learn how to think through social situations, and it helped that the problems were not a part of my own life.

Thank yoooooouuuuuuu! I have lots of good reading lined up now. And luckily I am already parenting in a way that emphasizes connection, trust, and support, and I’ve always guarded against living life through my kids. So thanks for making me feel like I freaking kick ass at this parenting thing, SpoilerVirgin It’s all too easy to only focus on the stuff you feel you’re *not *doing well, you know?

This might sound strange, but my Mom and I would watch, “My So Called Life,” together. I was about 14 when it came on. We would talk about the story and the mom and daughter’s relationship. It really was something we bonded over and made a pact that we would always be more straight up with each other than the characters on the show.

It might be on Netflix or Hulu these days.

Oh, also, believe it or not, American Girl books, the nonfiction ones, are pretty excellent. They cover cliques, how to be a good friend, etc. We get them from the library. There’s tons of them.

New Moon magazine – and I see they now have an online forum.

Actually this wasn’t obvious to me, thanks for posting it! Another question: what if you worry that your daughter is the one who is excluding another? Is it okay to encourage her to be friends with Jane and not just Jill, or would that be too nosy?

Well, now that you’ve mentioned magazines, may I recommend Kiki? I love that magazine for this age group! It’s all crafty and “make a style your own” and money advice and other really great topics that are sadly lacking in most magazines, let alone tween ones.

You could keep a journal together.

The important thing is to talk to her without judgement. There’s a fine line to walk between teaching her to be a better friend and making her feel like being friends with Jane is another item on her list of chores.

I once had a friend tell me that the reason she hadn’t called me in a few weeks was because her mother kept pestering her to call me, and she didn’t feel like doing what her mother said. I sympathized, because my mother did the same thing to me, with the same result.

One option is to talk to her about why she isn’t friends with Jane, in a gossipy, non-judgemental way. If it’s because of a genuine dislike and lack of compatibility, just leave it alone. If it’s because of cliqueishness, or a desire to exclude or hurt Jane, you could discuss the issue more in depth, to see if your daughter comes to her own conclusion about the right thing to do. There’s also demonstrating by example, or sharing some stories with your daughter about your own current or past friendships, to point her in the right direction without telling her which path to take. Like I said, it’s a fine line.

nods Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, thanks.