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Spaghetti Squabble Turns Friendship Sour: Middle School Drama

A grandchild's struggle with peers over something as simple as spaghetti highlights the challenges of adolescent relationships.

Hey MJ,

I'm seeking some guidance on a situation involving my grandchild, who's currently navigating the tricky waters of middle school friendships. My grand teen has a unique personality and doesn't quite fit the typical mold, which sometimes makes it hard for her to connect with peers, especially other black girls.


Recently, she had a falling out with a friend over a seemingly trivial issue – spaghetti at school lunch. This friend didn't get the spaghetti she wanted and kept insisting that someone either give her theirs or go back in line to buy some for her. My grandchild, fed up with the whining, told her to stop, which led to a harsh exchange of words and the end of their friendship. This situation also involved another girl who didn't support my grandchild during the conflict.


This incident has left my grandchild feeling hurt and isolated, especially since they share many classes. I've been supportive, offering advice to ignore the girls and focus on her own well-being, but I'm concerned about the potential for group torment and further issues.


I've been involved in this child's life, even helping with transportation for school activities, but now it seems that relationship is over. It's a complicated dynamic, and I'm worried about how my grandchild will handle these challenges, especially with her close friend moving to a different school next year.


I'm open to any suggestions or insights from anyone who has experienced similar situations. How can I best support my grandchild through this?


Thanks for your help.


Best regards,

Anonymous


Dear Anonymous,

Navigating the complexities of middle school friendships can be challenging, and it sounds like your grandchild is experiencing these common yet difficult hurdles. It’s important to help her understand that friendships during these years are often in flux and that conflicts, even over something as small as spaghetti, can reflect deeper interpersonal dynamics.


First, encourage your grandchild to reflect on what she values in friendships. Discussions about mutual respect, kindness, and support can help her identify the qualities she seeks in friends and also strives to offer. This reflection can guide her in forming healthier and more fulfilling relationships.


In light of the recent falling out, it's useful to encourage her to maintain a level of civility, especially in shared classes. Emphasize the skill of coexisting peacefully with others, even when they aren't close friends. This is a crucial life skill, useful well beyond middle school.


Given that your grandchild has a unique personality and might feel somewhat isolated, especially from other black girls, suggest exploring new avenues for friendship. Encourage her to engage in activities, clubs, or groups that align with her interests. This can be an excellent way to meet like-minded individuals who appreciate her for who she is.


It's also important to prepare her for potential group dynamics that might be challenging, especially with her close friend moving away. Equip her with strategies to handle group torment or isolation, like seeking support from trusted adults at school or finding safe spaces where she feels accepted and valued.


Ensure she knows it’s normal and okay to feel hurt by these experiences, but also reassure her that these moments are part of growing up and learning about relationships. Remind her that as she grows and develops, so too will her ability to form meaningful and lasting friendships.


Lastly, continue being a supportive presence in her life. Your involvement and understanding provide a stable and reassuring base as she navigates these formative experiences.


By focusing on these practical and emotional aspects of middle school friendships, you’ll be providing your grandchild with the tools and support she needs to navigate these sometimes turbulent waters with confidence and self-awareness.


Kenbe la,

MJ

ABOUT "HEY, MJ"

In 2020, the "Badass Black Girl" book series author M.J. Fievre began receiving correspondence from a varied audience, including parents, young adults, and teens. Fievre, an established author and speaker, is known for her insightful engagement with themes relevant to these demographics. The communication, primarily through Facebook or the Badass Black Girl inbox, revolves around topics covered in her books and public talks. These interactions display a rich tapestry of experiences and viewpoints, highlighting the author's impact on her readers.


“Hey, MJ” is a platform created to foster a meaningful connection between M.J. Fievre and her readers. It offers a forum for open dialogue, personalized advice, and the sharing of collective experiences. The platform's effectiveness is rooted in Fievre's expertise as an author and speaker. Her work, particularly in the "Badass Black Girl" series, showcases her deep understanding of the challenges and triumphs faced by her audience. Her background as an educator and her commitment to empowering young voices further enhance her ability to offer relevant and empathetic responses.


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