My daughter was in a first and second-grade loop, which means she kept the same teacher and classmates for two years.  When that second grade class was split evenly into thirds, headed for three different third grades, Amy lost the company of one of her close friends.

“She’ll become closest friends with someone else,” Amy wailed when she saw the class lists.

It was her biggest and only fear going into third grade.  And, she was right, in a sense. For the first six weeks of school, that girl would not play with Amy at recess and buddied up with a new friend in her class, all of which is really quite normal when starting a new grade with new kids and a new teacher.

Girlfriends in transition is not new to elementary school.  I remember a group of four girls in my school.  Carla and I were inseparable in fourth grade, while Audrey was new to the school and Kris was more of an observer.  In fifth grade, Kris and I were practically in love, while Audrey and Carla spent a lot of time together.  Then Kris and Audrey paired up and Kris barely spoke to me by seventh grade (and yes, my heart was broken.)  I had to find other friends by then.

So what do we do when the girls in our lives are troubled by friends who are not acting like friends?  To gather some input, I turned to one of my reliable sources — author Judy Blume.  She was one of my favorite youth authors. (Remember Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?

I was thrilled and nostalgic when Judy Blume started writing books for parents, one of which is called Letters to Judy, What Kids Wish They Could Tell You. Sometimes the problems are best stated from the points of view of the kids themselves.  Here is an entry from Bonnie, age 10:

Dear Judy,
     I’m going to be ten soon.  I’m glad I’m writing to you
because I really have no one to talk to.  I just lost my best friend.
Her name is Carolyn.  We used to share secrets, play together and we even
had a club!  But then Jennifer came along.  Jennifer has a clique
with some other girls.  Me and Carolyn made a vow never to be in that
clique because Jennifer, the leader of the pack, tells you what to
wear, what to eat, who to like and what labels to buy.  But Carolyn
went with her anyway and now Carolyn doesn’t like me anymore.
     I can’t talk to my mom about anything private or personal
because I’m too embarrassed.

Judy’s advice?  “We can’t fight these fights for our kids, nor do they want us to.  Sometimes, all we can do is recognize and acknowledge our kids’ pain and help them become more aware of other’s feelings.”

Well put.  As our girls grow up through elementary school, let’s strive to be engaged listeners and then ask good questions so that girls can try to work out their own problems.  I’m not saying that we would never intervene in their affairs.  Sometimes interpersonal situations or bullying can get out of control. 

But don’t you think that it’s best to first get them thinking for themselves?

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in Northern Colorado. For more information on her stepparenting book, go to

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