Allow me to begin with a disclaimer: I am new to parenting a teen daughter.
I do not claim to be an expert but rather a newcomer sharing what worked this time and asking for help from other parents who have navigated this path before me.
My daughter is beginning her second year of Junior High. Aside from academics, the biggest topic of the year: DRAMA. Girl drama. Sweet girls who were “BFF” the year before change friends as fast as they change shoes. Hormones rage and moods swing. My daughter is bewildered not only by her friends’ behavior but by her own reactions as well.
Finally, we sat down to discuss the source of drama and how to handle it. In my daughter’s (un)experienced observations, she determined that the source of drama was pride and selfishness, fueled by gossip. Pretty astute for an early teen.
We quickly label our daughters as “Drama Queens” when the reality is they are Drama Princesses. How can we dethrone these Drama Princesses? By dethroning the Drama Queens!
Drama can be exciting; it can shake us out of the mundane. But quickly it escalates in our minds and can consume us.
What are they learning about conflict resolution from us? Are we the Drama Queens teaching or enabling their behavior? What are they watching and listening to? What does the Bible say about resolving conflict and handling drama?
A few lessons and guidelines my daughter and I established:
1. Divert gossip. When a girlfriend shares something not-so-nice about another peer, reply with one of the peer’s positive traits. “Brittany may have made a mistake. Isn’t great that she is always the first to volunteer for the concession stand? What a hard worker.”
2. Examine motives. Why am I getting upset? Embarrassment or injured pride? Loyalty to a friend wronged?
3. No posting snarky remarks on social media, even if you are not using names! Take time to calm down and don’t post “poor me” statuses. Instead, go the old-fashioned route, grab a pen, and write to “Dear Diary.” It does help and allows time to work out emotions.
4. Speaking of emotions, you just can’t trust ‘em. They distort facts and tend to focus on self. One of our favorite sayings: “Cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it.” Identify the emotion and cause, formulate a logical and non-emotional response, and move forward.
5. You can trust an older wiser mentor. Your teen peers are caught in the same hormonal and emotional quagmire and will tell you what you want to hear. Instead, talk to your mom, youth group leader, or someone who you can trust to give you sound advice or help you reason through the situation.
6. Television reality shows and teen soap operas do not show good examples of how to handle conflict. Instead, follow biblical guidelines–they really work! After emotions are in check, prayerfully diagnose any sinful contribution you have made in the situation. Acknowledge and repent before confronting someone else on their sin. If they need to be confronted, present them with truth in love and with gentleness. If they won’t listen, take your wise mentor.
7. It’s OK to move away from an unhealthy friendship, but still be loving and friendly. Set healthy boundaries (“We can hang out together at the mall for a couple of hours but let’s invite some other friends. I think it would be best if my mom drops me so you won’t need to pick me up.”)
Friendships will change, and that’s OK. Treasure the happy times, learn from the disappointing times, and remember Jesus is the friend that will never leave.
Julia DesCarpentrie is passionate about orphan care, adoption and fostering. She has been blessed to live out God’s call on her life in those areas through her work with The CALL (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime), a foster care church initiative encouraging more Christian families to foster children in need. Julia has been an advocate for the fatherless for 10 years, as both a volunteer and also serving with Hope for Orphans before her work with The CALL. She is also an active volunteer in the community and has served on several community boards. She continues to minister to other mothers and foster/adoptive families through writing and speaking with MomLife Today. Julia is the mom of five children entrusted to her care through birth, adoption and fostering. She and Branden have been married for 16 years.