By Blythe Daniel, Crosswalk.com
One of the many things I didn’t think about when I started raising two daughters is how others would receive them in school. I thought about how they would bond with each other since I didn’t have a sister. With only two years between them, they have shared a lot over the years, including gymnastics, clothes, toys, and sometimes the same friends. They have talked about things that sisters talk about, and I have been grateful that they have each other.
When junior high started for my oldest daughter Maris, I watched her navigate some of her friends changing. Some friends who used to talk with her didn’t speak to her anymore. Some of her friends changed schools, which was also challenging to start making new friends. Whether it was friend groups shifting or friends no longer there, it meant some adjustments in a very pivotal part of a girl’s life.
Maybe you are experiencing this right now with your daughter. It’s painful to watch, isn’t it? How do we encourage our daughters to seek new friends and not let the shift in friends or losing friends cause defeat?
When my younger daughter, Calyn, now 13, was starting her junior high year, I saw a different side of the friendship struggles that our daughters can face. Girls she was friends with sometimes left during lunch to form a different group, excluding some friends in the process. Sometimes, they would come back around, and sometimes not.
As Calyn shared with me what she was going through, I asked her if she thought she could encourage other girls in similar situations. She said she’d like to, and she put together her thoughts in a devotional book to encourage girls on how to be good friends, how to stand up and leave friendships that aren’t good, and how to look at friendship with God as someone who will never leave you. She shares with girls that God wants them to have good friends, and he wants to help them find true friends who will see their character as a reflection of Christ. She believes this can happen when girls are being good friends, which helps them make good friends and look to God for guidance.
In her words, Calyn shares: “Confidence is a trait a lot of girls struggle to have. They want to have confidence, but they are too afraid to really be self-assured. You mainly will see it when you or someone around you is bullied. All of a sudden, you lose any confidence you thought you had. You also see a loss of confidence when trying to find new friends, and it's a crushing feeling. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to gain your confidence back. "
You can start by finding someone you never talk to and ask them a few questions. It doesn’t have to be much. And you never know what kind of impact it could have on them.
The conversation might seem awkward or uncomfortable, but afterward, it changes you for the better, and you find a spark in you that will keep growing. The spark in you is from God, which can mean he wants to work through you. He will give you a different perspective on school, friendships, and girls in general. Your confidence will grow, only if you decide to make the first move. When you decide to meet new friends, God will help you find and grow in those new friendships. God helps you navigate decisions, but ultimately, you are the one who must choose to step out.
A lot of times, confidence isn’t something you get once you have friends. Confidence is what you ask God to give you so that you can find the right friends. And asking him to help you have confidence when friends reject you is also important because it’s in those times that you want to lean into God even more so that your identity comes from him and not from other people.
As you grow more in the identity God gives you, your confidence grows more. When you grow in ways that include God’s values, you find what real confidence looks like. God will show you how to gain your confidence more fully as you ask him to show you if you have a confident mindset or if thoughts of self-doubt are holding you back.”
What’s so amazing to me is what God teaches our daughters that we don’t have to. We don’t have to have all the right words to tell them. They are able to read Scripture that encourages their hearts and see for themselves what God would say to them. It’s not up to us as their mom to give them what they need as they seek to make good friends. They can ask God to give them the confidence to make friends and ask for his help in knowing which friends would have similar values.
A couple of the verses that speak to this confidence-building in friendships are:
“Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Hebrews 10:35 NIV
‘We can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”’ Hebrews 13:6 NLT
Some of the ways I have tried to help my daughters grow in their friendships have come through things I have tried – some working out and some not met with great enthusiasm.
You may want to consider some of the following with your daughter:
-Offer to be the mom who takes girls to a school function or extracurricular activity. As you listen to the conversations in the car, often you will gain an understanding of what girls are going through just by hearing them talk. This can allow you to better understand what is going on in her world from your daughter’s point of view.
-Host an activity that requires working together so that girls can see how to work through problems or choices together. This may be an art club, a cooking class, or a project they are required to do for school, helping each of them get their project done in a group setting. It can create fun and memories!
-Ask your daughter who she would like you to pray for. Sometimes, girls are a bit more open about what’s happening with their friends than boys. If your daughter will let you know how to pray for a friend, it can help your daughter see that you care about her friends while also making a difference in the friend’s life with your prayers.
-Help your daughter create a calendar of when her friends’ birthdays are. Then, she can make sure to help her friends celebrate their special day. Outreaches like this can show that the girl is seen and loved.
-Encourage your daughter to interact with friends offline. So much of how kids connect is through their phones. If you ask your daughter if she has had a 3:1 ratio of in-person conversations with her friends to a phone conversation, see if she can stick with more in-person chats versus just simply online. This will help with face-to-face time, which girls really need.
Our time is limited with our daughters as they get older and have more activities and responsibilities outside the home. My time with my daughters in the car has become precious to me. As I’m going to pick them up from school or an event and it’s just me in the car, I will turn off the music or whatever I’m listening to and just pray over them. I’ve found that it not only could help them but it settles my heart toward them and whatever is going on in their lives, including their friendships.
A prayer you could pray or adapt for your daughter is:
Lord, I place my daughter and the friends she makes in your hands. I ask that your Spirit would guide her to look for friends who love and respect you first. Will you equip me to trust and love her friends, listen when she wants to share with me, and pray for her when she feels frustrated or hurt? I trust you for my daughter’s friendships, and thank you for the daughter you have given me to love. In Jesus’ name, amen
Excerpt from Let’s Be Friends by Calyn Daniel and Blythe Daniel, 2023, Harvest House Publishers.
Blythe Daniel is the mother of two daughters, Maris and Calyn. Blythe and Calyn, a middle schooler and competitive gymnast, are the authors of Let’s Be Friends: A Tween Devotional on Finding and Keep Strong Friendships. Blythe is a literary agent and author and lives in Colorado with her family. Calyn believes girls need to know who they are in Christ, how to navigate friend groups—especially when they change—and how to not lose sight of who God has made them to be.
Blythe Daniel is a literary agent, author, and marketer. Her agency markets books through podcasts, blogs, and launch teams and represents books to publishers. Blythe was the publicity director for Thomas Nelson Publishers and has been a literary agent for the past 16 years. Blythe has written for Proverbs 31 Ministries, Ann Voskamp, Focus on the Family, CCM Magazine, Christian Retailing, and others. Blythe and her mother have co-authored two books: Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters (Harvest House) and I Love You Mom: Cherished Word Gifts from My Heart to Yours (Tyndale). She is married and lives in Colorado with her family.
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