How Do I Talk To My Daughter About CLIQUES?

By Dannah Gresh, Creator of Secret Keeper Girl

Welcome to the years of homophily. That’s a fancy psych term for cliques. While I don’t like cliques, and we’ve worked hard to keep our kids from forming them, they’re pretty much inevitable. And they can even do some good. Somewhere around the tween years, your daughter will start to select people who are like her to be her friends. Conversely, whoever she picks to be her friends will affect who she becomes. Friendships formed in the tween and teen years have significant influence on all types of behaviors. Like it or not, your daughter’s friends will either support the values you are attempting to instill or overwhelm her with a different point of view.

Among tween girls, 67% say that Mom should never be involved in their friendships. 21% say “it depends”. Only 12% say that Mom should be involved in the selection of and maintenance of her friendships. Thank your daughter today if she is in that small but wise minority!

So what’s a mom to do? Get involved in her friendships! My mom did this when I was growing up, and it was a critical maneuver in protecting her little girl (me!). Part of me wanted more space, but most of me loved that my mom was the mom everyone could really talk to. In fifth and sixth grade, my friends shared their drama with her as if she were a highly paid counselor. As a result, she was on the inside of our major decisions. It also gave her the knowledge to step in if I was making wrong decisions.

It can get tricky here since, as I’m sure you know, somewhere between the ages of 8-12, many girls tend to feel strongly that Mom should not be involved in friendships or help select them. This is no small issue to be tackled. The Bible tells us, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20). It’s critical for you to be involved in her friendships so you can teach her during these tween years how to select friends who will mirror her values and stand strong in her teen years. The goal is not complete control, but informed guidance.

I suggest you do this by becoming the ultimate Carpool Queen and Sleepover Diva! Driving carpool is a great way to do research on your kids. If you keep the volume on your radio turned down, you can really tune into the generally unfiltered interaction of friends. You learn who burps the loudest, who the meanest teacher is, and who has a boyfriend. Just enjoy and learn. God will guide you in how to use this…ah…”intelligence” later on.

You can also make your home the place to hang out. Become the hostess with the mostest. Make your home kid-friendly — whether that means a pool, secret room, a basement with a big screen, an old air-hockey table or maybe just a warm plate of cookies. Host game nights or movie nights and earn the status of hangout. Why? So you can protect your daughter! It’s smart to be the host home. So, pop the corn and pull out the sleeping bags that will never be used for sleeping! A connecting mom is a Sleepover Diva.

As an added bonus, being the host home lets you introduce your daughter to girls who may not naturally be a part of her clique. Take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to that girl at school or church who always gets left out or maybe doesn’t have an involved mom in her life. This is a great way to model compassion for your daughter, teaching her how to befriend those the rest of the world deems “unlovable.” Get involved with her friendships – it’s likely that one of these days she just might thank you!

Adapted from Chapter 10 of Dannah Gresh’s Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl. 

Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl Tour is a faith-based mother-daughter connecting experience. This 2 1/2 hour event features two fun fashion shows that demonstrate modesty and true beauty, deep Bible teaching, live worship, and stories that help girls aged 7-12 embrace true beauty and modesty. Incredible balloon sculptures, bouncing beach ball competitions, mother/daughter conversation time & colorful confetti cannons make the night unforgettable. Click the video below for a sneak peak.

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Tiffany - June 5, 2013

Hi Dannah! I really like this concept but Iv always been against this type of thing I guess because I’m afraid what type of kids will b revealed at my house! Not sure if that’s even a reason not too! But my 10yr always wants to have a sleep over,so I will do better in this regard!

Jill - June 5, 2013

Just had a sleepover and was surprised to learn one of her 13 yr old friends had a boyfriend(!) Sheesh…
Anyway, one of the girl’s mothers called afterward to thank me for hosting the sleepover. She mentioned some rumors about my daughter her daughter had shared with her — and that was one of the reasons a few girls didn’t come to the sleepover. My daughter considers these girls’ her friends, obviously not knowing they are saying stuff about her behind her back. I feel stuck with this secret, and don’t know what to do. Do I share it with her, do I not say anything, and/or do I limit her contact with these gossipers?

Theresa - June 19, 2013

Thanks, Dannah, for reinforcing this. I love having my daughter’s friends over and having them come along with us when we go out places. As moms we are constantly criticized no matter what we do and other parents accuse me of making mountains out of molehills when I limit what my daughter watches and listens to. Many parents in my neck of the woods feel that it’s invasive to be involved in your daughter’s friendships or steer her away from certain people but why wouldn’t a parent do this? We’re the first line of protection for our kids.

renee - August 24, 2013

I like the article, but I don’t care for sleepovers that much. I find it hard on a family life. However, I like different day parties– nails, hair, cooking, etc.
Thanks for the article!

Beth Tallent - March 26, 2014

I love your article!! I have 2 daughters I completely agree that we moms must be involved in our daughters lives as much as possible and we must start young. For moms that are skeptical I promises you don’t want to miss out on sleepovers at your house, but be sure to be involved that’s what makes it fun. There will be lots of laughs . Then you will see your daughters and their friends talk about real life stuff. Sleepovers may sound scary at first but all you need is lots of snacks, a movie, some dress up clothes are also great, and some fun games. I just had 12 yes 12 girls sleepover during spring break! This wasn’t my first and the last one went great too! I do have a small but yet big talk with the girls on how we are all different and we all think different. And to try not to take all things personal when something doesn’t work out like you want it. Also to remember to build others up and not tear one another down. To think of others before yourselves and then I pray. I always do a mixed group from church friends, bus friends and class friends! This sleepover we did an outside scavenger hunt, guess that flavor of jelly bean(go to candy store and get the really gross ones by jelly bean it has skunk spray, stinky sock and grass) then some they played dress up while the others watched the act! Shocking they were all out by 12:30 while a movie played! Some great memories that I know my girls will remember forever!!

Lily Green - March 26, 2014

I am looking for a Bible study to do as leader of a small group of middle school girls on the topic of mean girls. Any suggestions?

Melissa - March 28, 2014

Growing up, my house was the house for kids to hang out. It is amazing how I watched so many girls need love and attention from both of my parents! We did not have any special things like a pool, etc. but my mom always provided great snacks, movies, sleepovers and a listening ear! I did not realize how important this was till I read your article. Thanks!

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