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Wedding Woes

Start by limiting any contact between them

Dear Prudence,

Our youngest of two daughters has few friends. A neighbor’s granddaughter is her classmate and often bullies her in many ways. Our daughter has shown a pattern of opening up unconditionally, only to be repeatedly abused verbally or physically (kicked, pushed) by her “friend.” At times they get along, but only when it’s convenient for the other girl. It’s a very small town with few options. My wife and I differ on letting them continue to “play.” How can we teach our 9-year-old she doesn’t have to subject herself to abuse to find friendship?

—Daughter’s Mean Friend

Re: Start by limiting any contact between them

  • Talk to her about what healthy friendships look and feel like. Talk to her about how this girls behavior makes her feel. Ask her what she wants to do. Help her to make decisions about how she wants to play. 

    Also explore opportunities for her to meet other kids outside of your town. Just because there aren’t many people there, doesn’t mean those are the only places she can find friends. 
  • Honestly, I would talk to the parent/grandparent as well as above talking to daughter.
    Daughter needs to know it's not a good friendship, but the guardians need to know what the other child is doing. Who knows what other kids are getting this treatment without realizing it?

    Daughter could go into an after school activity - in or out of school - to meet people of similar interests also
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