Jan. 16, 2023

Ask Amy: My Daughter Is Suddenly Being Ostracized

Has your child ever been excluded from their friend group all of a sudden for no apparent reason? Middle-school ostracization is real, and it really hurts– and it's hard for a parent to know how much to become involved.

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What should a parent do when their child is suddenly excluded from their friend group? Amy helps a listener unpack the complexities of this problem:

"My 13-year-old daughter has inexplicably been dropped from her friend group at her very small school (less than 10 girls in the grade). As far as my daughter can figure, nothing has precipitated this change.

The moms would regularly communicate with each other via text to coordinate as we don’t live in the same town. As a result of this, I know that the moms know that their girls are ostracizing mine. They know she is not invited by their girls. They are no longer texting me to make the plans, carpools, etc. My daughter is distraught.

I am also sick to my stomach over it. I don’t know how to help her. I am also heartbroken because I felt that I also thought that I I had the beginnings of a friendship with these women. How do I help my daughter through this?"

This is devastating both for the teen in question and us as moms, Amy explains, because our emotional responses to our adolescent's struggles are often colored by our own memories of how difficult this time in our lives may have been. Offering your child infinite support and compassion while keeping your judgments (and expletives) to yourself is key. And while keeping an open mind at this time may seem impossible– who are these little monsters hurting your child's feelings??– it's also important to remember that there may be more to the story than what you are hearing at home.


Fresh Take: Judith Warner on What Grownups Get Wrong About Middle School

Dr. Lisa Damour on Helping Kids Manage Anxiety

Judith Warner's book And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School: https://bookshop.org/a/12099/9781101905890

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