Helping teens build healthy male-female friendshipsWritten by Marianne Hering
What's inside this article
My daughter is 15 and getting over her first real crush. Until recently, boys were just assorted classmates and soccer opponents. She gets calls from guys all the time but rarely gets asked out on a date – and that’s the way she wants it.
Because of her outgoing personality, my daughter has acquired some great friends over the years, including close guy friends. It didn’t really bother me until those friends started producing facial hair and developing shoulder muscles that King Kong would be proud of.
Good ground rules
For my daughter to continue building friendships with guys, we have instituted some rules about cars and where she and they can be when they come over to the house. Plain and simple: No closed doors and she’s not allowed in any of their vehicles.
Here’s what she and her girlfriends say they have to do to keep boys as friends and not lead them on:
- Find guys who will engage in conversation, not just listen to their iPods or play video games.
- If you sit next to them, don’t sit too close.
- Don’t talk about who likes or doesn’t like you, or who they do or don’t like. Just avoid it.
- If you do things together, say no some of the time.
- Don’t just stand around and gawk at them. Join in their games.
- Let them know you don’t want a boyfriend – boys will feel safe to be your friend.
- Wear modest clothes. It’s easier than most teen girls think.
- Don’t giggle all the time. Also, don’t pretend to be dumb. Just act normal.
- Don’t talk about them with your friends.
- Ignore the teasing of acquaintances that think you are dating when doing things with your guy friends. It’s more interesting for others to think you’re romantically involved than to believe you can be friends with the opposite sex. If you ignore the teasing – and don’t react – those teasing you will usually stop gossiping about your relationship.
The mother of one of my daughter’s friends appreciates the way my daughter conducts herself – helping her son feel valued without playing boy-girl games with him. I know other parents feel the same way.
I have a lot to thank my daughter’s male friends for:
- Thanks for encouraging her.
- Thanks for telling her she’s smart.
- Thanks for calling her and inviting her to soccer games.
- Thanks for remembering that she doesn’t like to dance.
- Thanks for listening to her sing to the radio off-key.
- Thanks for giving her what I can’t – male appreciation and approval.
- Thanks for being her friend – and no, she’s still not allowed to ride in your car.
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