Michelle Icard is our resident middle school expert, she helps parents and children navigate middle school and life as a young person. Find more of her at www.MichelleintheMiddle.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Lunch With A Friend: A Parable
Two pairs of friends were catching up over lunch at a café. Reading my book at the table between them, I could easily hear both conversations.
To my right, a woman confided in her friend about an upsetting incident at work. A co-worker stole her idea for a project and presented it as her own to the boss. Frustrated, the woman wondered how she could continue to work near this colleague who so blatantly betrayed her trust.
Incensed at her friend’s betrayal, the woman on my right told her friend she had to stick up for herself. In fact, the friend knew the boss and she picked up her cell phone, much to my surprise, and phoned the boss on the spot! She explained the situation, hung up, and informed her friend that action would be taken to resolve the issue Monday at work.
To my left, a woman confessed to her friend that her sister was once again manipulating family dynamics, borrowing money from her parents they couldn’t afford to lend, and making bad personal choices that impacted everyone in the family.
Her friend nodded empathetically. She told her friend she didn’t deserve to get caught up in such turmoil. She offered to listen without judgment anytime her friend wanted to talk, and she related to her friend by sharing a time when her own sister had also caused family drama.
Which set of friends do you think continued their conversation?
When your child confides in you something upsetting from their social world, they do not expect or hope that you will solve it. Just like adults, they seek a non-judgmental listener and an empathetic ear. Never call the offending child’s parent or take action. Simply sit and listen as you would with a girlfriend. Modeling this kind of empathy sets you up for more confidential conversations in the future and shows your child how to be a good friend to peers.
photo by ambigel, cc