12 And 13 Year Old Friendship Question

Updated on March 07, 2013
K.S. asks from Littleton, CO
19 answers

Hi ladies. So I admit first of all that I am a worrier, and am easily upended by change, I just don't deal with change well. So I'm hoping to gain some perspective on how to handle (or not handle) this situation with my daughter. She had a friend Izzy who lived a few houses away and they were inseparable from age 8 to about 10, when Izzy's family moved to the east coast. My daughter was devastated about the move. They vowed to always stay best friends, but as is normal, they began to adjust to their lives without each other. They have always stayed in some contact by text, but fairly sporadic and nothing big. I will also mention that there was another girl, Sara, that lived across the street and all three girls were friendly, but Sara tried to cause problems because she wanted Izzy to herself and it got ugly, but ultimately ended with Izzy and my daughter staying friends, and Sara sort of backing out of the friendship- Sara and my daughter are obviously still neighbors but are no longer friends.

So life went on for both girls, they are both well adjusted with new groups of friends. Ok, so the problem- Izzy just told my daughter that their family is moving back and planning to live in this area again. I confirmed this with her mom. My daughter is over the moon about this, certain that she has her best friend back and they will pick up right where they left off. I feel like this will be a bumpy re-entry. I know it's only been a couple of years apart, but I fear that the time and distance will have made the girls different, they won't likely just pick up where they left off- or will they?

To complicate things, I worry about Sara here. It was an uglier 'break up' between Sara and my daughter than Sara and Izzy. And my daughter goes to a different school, so Sara and Izzy will likely go to the same school together while my daughter is on her own at another. I worry that Sara and Izzy could become friends again and leave my daughter out, which will devastate her.

Now first of all, I will say that while these are worries in my head, I have not brought anything up to my daughter. My first instinct is to let the situation present itself and evolve naturally, without my interference (well, truthfully my first instinct is to put a big bubble around my daughter, but I promise not to do that!!). I realize that she is 12, almost 13, and needs to navigate friendships on her own and figure this out. I really do get that, and I promise I won't hover and try to do all of this for her. This is part of life, and she will need to use the skills she hopefully has to deal with this.

But I wonder what, if anything, I should do to maybe plant some seeds or give her a little food for thought about what she expects when Izzy moves back. I just know she feels like her prayers have been answered and Izzy is coming back to her, and that things will be fantastic and perfect. So it breaks my heart to picture her disappointment if things don't go as she dreams. I just want to support her.

Have any of you dealt with a similar situation? Please let me know what you would do in my place. Any advice or ways to help me keep this in perspective are greatly appreciated!

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So What Happened?

You guys are so great- I am definitely hearing everyone so far. And you are all right- the girls need to handle it on their own. I can't control the pace of things and have no idea what Izzy or Sara are like now. So it sounds like it would be ok to lend a listening ear when requested, but not to front-load the situation with anxiety (love that one!). Please keep the answers coming, I can't tell you how much they are helping. Every time I read a new answer, I literally take a deep breath and feel my anxiety coming down. You guys have great perspectives here. Oh, and btw- Izzy will be moving to the same area, but not likely on the same street, so there will be some distance (not much, but some). And while my daughter is at a different school than Izzy and Sara will be through 8th grade (they are in 7th now), they will all three be at the same high school.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Let the kids work it out on their own. Their reintegration into each other's lives needs to be at their pace and on their terms, with no 'seeds' planted by others, no matter how well-intended that planting might be.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My best friends and I pick up right where we left off. It will be fine and it will be up to the girls to see what direction it should go. I wouldn't say anything negative about it...only positive comments about the great news. No need to pass along the worry.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from New York on

Stay out of it. Let things evolve on their own. They are old enough to handle this themselves. Kids need to learn about life and friendships on their own. Either they will pick up like they were never apart or realize they have changed. Trust me, they will figure it out without you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The rule of thumb for me is not to get into a land war in Asia and not to get overly involved with tween/teen friendships. They are so mercurial. I wouldn't navigate the adjustment FOR them. If the other girls become friends, they become friends. It may or may not have any impact on your DD. My SD had a very best friend in the neighborhood. They were tight til 5th grade, had a falling out, got back to being friends, and then had another falling out in early HS. They don't speak anymore. Some of their mutual pals sided with one or the other. SD has moved on, has new friends (went to a different school) and is doing fine. Even if it's bumpy, I think your DD will ultimately be fine, with or without Izzy.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Stay out of it!

Your daughter is 12 - NOTHING you say will be right and if anything goes "wrong" it'll be your fault. (Don't your remember being 12? lol) Be there to comfort or celebrate with her, whichever the case may be. But keep any and all opinions to yourself....even if she asks!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You sound like me. I'm a worrier too. ;)

But, from my own experience, I would caution you not to front-load anxiety. If you do, it'll color the way you talk to your daughter about it, she'll pick up on it and that will color her own reaction, and things will sort of spiral from there.

I haven't dealt with that exact situation -- I have a boy, not a girl, and mine is only 6 1/2 -- but here's my mini-story.

My son has one best friend in the world, whom he positively adores. Until he met this other kid (when he was almost 4) he was too shy to play with any kids at all. Now he plays well enough with all kinds of kids, but he sort of reserves all his affection for his one best friend. And, his best friend is moving away. I've known this was probably going to happen for months, and it's broken my heart anticipating it, to the point where I've lain awake crying about it.

Well, my son found out about this move this week. And, how did he react? He did cry, and he did get mad, but he wasn't devastated the way I was sure he would be. Instead, he really quickly transferred his affections to this third kid (who, fortunately, is a truly great little guy). It's funny -- it's like a classic rebound relationship. I don't know if this new friendship will "take" in the same way, but it has taught me not to underestimate my son's resilience. As moms, we always think of our kids as vulnerable -- and they are -- but they're also stronger, and more bounce-back-y, than we usually suspect.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I can certainly understand your anxiety. And you are right to have some concerns. But recognize that that is what they are: YOUR anxiety and YOUR concerns. And let them stay yours and keep them away from your daughter.

If you want to gently, at some point when actual moving stuff begins to happen, pass a nugget of wisdom to your daughter that being open to change is a good thing, fine. But I'd stop there.

Personal story: Almost the exact same thing happened to me and my constant companion at the same ages (minus the controlling 3rd party). There were 3 of us who were close friends, played on the same sports team, etc, for 3 years. My friend lived 2 houses down from us. Third girl lived a mile down the road (too far to go without a parent-it was a major road). Neighbor girl and I were always together. Sleepovers, Riding horses, playing ball, etc. They moved. I was very sad. In 10th grade, she moved back, and within a few weeks, our family moved to another state. During that few weeks, I thought: yay! We'll pick right up where we left it... hanging out all the time. But they lived further away in town from us, and neither of us had transportation at 14. And we didn't have any of the same classes at school. Or the same lunch period. I stayed after for activities, and she didn't. Just lots and lots of differences..
Then our family moved. And that was that.
It was pretty awkward for a bit... but it worked itself out. We both had other friends and our activities and interests diverged and took us in other directions.

The same thing may happen for your daughter, but there is nothing you can do or say to prepare her for the possibility really. And after only 2 years, it may not be as much of an issue as it is at 3 years. Who knows.
Just let it develop on its own, or wither on its own. And be there to listen if/when your daughter seems "down".
As long as your daughter cultivated other friendships with other girls and hasn't sat around moping for 2 years then she will be fine.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My 12 yr old daughter has a similar thing going on with 2 girls at her school. They are all friends, but not all '3' together. It's kind of a weird dynamic. One of the girls will get jealous and try to start drama so the other 2 will be fighting. My daughter wants to be friends with both, mostly it's 1 who doesn't seem to want that.

Anyhow i have to stop myself every time there is a big fight from jumping in and defending my 'little girl'. They always work it out until the next time lol. Definitely let them deal with it however it plays out, and try not to worry about things that haven't even happened yet. There's lots of possibilities. I always listen to my daughter when she wants to talk and offer my advice, which she usually takes, but i let her figure it out on her own, i don't insist she must do it a certain way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

My son had his first "best friend" from toddler play group. They went on to pre-school and even kindergarten together. His mom moved him to English school in grade one, but the boys still got together to play fairly often. Three years ago they moved out of province, and my son missed him, although he had plenty of other friends. The boy has come to our city to visit for a couple of weeks the last two summers, and he spends a few days at our place. They have a nice visit and do have fun together, but my son realized that they have grown apart and have very different interests now. While my son still considers this boy a friend he is not his best friend. My best friend moved to Germany in 1989 then moved back to the city last year and we picked up exactly where we had left off, even though we had just graduated high school when she left. (Except we left off a recent high school graduates and now we are both married with children) Friendships evolve naturally, it is best not to interfere.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

My son (16) has been friends with another boy since Kindergarten. Went to school together, in the same homeroom, through 4th grade. Katrina hit, his friend's family ultimately moved away. We parents "shipped" our boys to each other each summer for a couple of years, then that got cumbersome.

I had the same worries - that my son would be devastated when contact naturally dwindled. I wanted to intervene, warn him, something. But I took a breath and stepped back.

But you know what, they still keep in touch. FaceBook, text, phone calls, Skype. While they live in different states, they still consider each other close friends.

Let your daughter navigate this one on her own. She has remained in contact with her friend. Her friend is moving back. Going to different schools only means that they will have to learn how to plan time together - which is what teens do anyway. At some point we can't negotiate "play dates" for them anymore. Movies, weekend sleep overs, etc. were all the things we did at that age with friends who attended different schools from us.

Also, remember, while your daughter has grown and matured during this time, so have Izzy and Sarah. Sarah may not be the all controlling child she used to be. And, as always, continue to encourage your daughter to expand her circle of interests and friends.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

My best friend and I have known each other since the day I was born, she is 3 days older then me, and our mom's were bestfriends. We spent everyday together, her mom babysat me, my mom her etc..

Then they moved away when we were about 7/8. Not far, but busy lives kept us apart for a few years, and there was no real way to stay in contact besides a phone call. KWIM? lol

She had her life, and I had mine and every once in a while our lives would cross each other again. We'd pick up right where we left off. Then came high school and junior high, again whenever together we would pick up right where we left off. Sure she had different friends then me (not all I liked) and vise versa, but it always worked.

She had kids, I had kids, and then I moved out of state and we lost each other. For many years actually, then we got facebook and found each other. It was like there hadn't been a 8+ year gap in our friendship at all.

It isn't always bad, it is different, and she'll figure it out. Be there just in case it doesn't go as planned, but don't look for trouble where there may not be any.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would definitely plant a few seeds, but I wouldn't make a big deal about it. You could tell her that you're very excited for her to have her best friend move back. You could also just mention "I'm sure both of you have changed a lot in the last few years, so I hope you will be understanding to Izzy if she's not exactly the same."

The cool thing about best friends is you can often just pick up where you left off. I have a friend I see once every few years, and when we do meet up it's like she never left. So it might be this way for Izzy and your daughter.

As for the Sara situation, we've had that issue a lot. I had it when I was growing up, and my daughter has it as well. Usually the Sara's are very insecure and actually the solution has been to not only make friends with the Saras but to reassure them that they are liked and needed. When my daughter had this issue we invited "Sara" over with "Izzy" and my daughter gave them both 3-way best friends necklaces. They then all vowed to all THREE be friends "forever." When "Sara" presented a problem, my daughter reminded her that they were all three equal friends. That seemed to work most of the time.

There isn't much you can do except help your daughter to handle the situation if Sara presents a problem. Sara may have indeed moved on as well. Just make sure your daughter keeps in good contact with Izzy and that they can talk about it.

Good luck! My husband gets all dizzy when he hears about girls and their friend issues. He says we're too complicated :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Things will be fine. I wouldn't really say anything at all. My SD lived with us during the second half of Kindergarten and while she was here, made friends with a girl who lives a couple of blocks away from us. My oldest son is the same age as SD so when she would visit, she had acquaintances here through his friends and kept in touch with that girl and some of my son's friends who were girls. When she moved in with us in 7th grade, she and the daugther of a good friend (who had recently lost some friends due to girl drama) latched on to each other pretty quickly and were inseparable for 6 months and then things faded a bit, my SD found her own friends (including the old friend from Kindergarten) and things have moved on without drama or hard feelings. They'll find their own pace when the friend moves back. Trust your daugther's judgment, respect her feelings, and take things as they come.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

The old phrase "don't borrow trouble" comes to mind.

You are obviously a loving and concerned parent. No parent welcomes the possibility of their child having their heart broken. However, these *are* learning experiences for our kids which will, hopefully, help them to navigate friendships in healthy ways when they are older.

One of the hard parts for many kids, concerning friendships, is the idea of 'sharing' their friends. For example, my son (almost 6) was a bit crushed when he came across his best friend (a girl, 7-- her dad used to care for my son and they practically grew up together) playing with another 7 year old neighbor girl. Crushed! He wanted to play with them. I had to explain that they were having their own playtime together. The other girl is very sweet-- she and my son have NOTHING in common, so I didn't think it wise to try to make this one better for him.

What I would do in your situation is to just sit back and see how it goes. It's likely that your daughter is not going to be able to hear any cautions or warnings right now, she's too excited. If you need to help things along, just do it in a natural way. Invite Izzy out to do some not-too-expensive fun things, like painting pottery or coming over to do a specific activity. (Beading bracelets or necklaces, making cookies-- you could ask your daughter.) Then, the pressure is off to be 'just right' for her returning friend and the focus stays on the activity. They'll need some time to get to know each other again.

Do encourage your girl to keep up the friendships she has now. If there are issues with Izzy spending time with Sara, take them as they come. I have friends whose other friends I don't particularly always care for, but I try to keep in mind that I don't have to be *friends* with them, however, the onus is on me to be considerate and courteous, even if that person isn't. Just because the other person is not someone I enjoy or admire doesn't excuse me from striving to be the best person I can be around them.

I do hope things work out for everyone involved. I think a lot of girls have this experience at some time or another, even with best buddies who didn't move away. People change and grow. Some people need those specific relationships more than others. The best support you can give is empathetic, reflective listening. Even when it is hard, resist the urge to try to prolong the friendship or make things better. The girls will need to sort things out for themselves. Just be there for her, offer ideas if she asks and if it's appropriate to the situation, and be honest with her-- some friendships and relationships do hurt, terribly, sometimes. That's what growing up and getting stronger as a person is about: it's the hard time that make us grow.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You are eaten up with anxiety before anything ever happens! Try to take a breath and relax. As hard as it is for you...... stay out of it.

First, they may or may not strike right up where they left off. ALL of the girls have matured somewhat and may look at the friendship differently and may have different interests. They have to figure this out on their own.

I believe in doing a lot more listening to my daughter then talking to her. I don't talk about her friends negatively AT ALL... because at ages 12 and 13, they will love each other one day and hate each other the next. It is a roller coaster ride for everyone.

My thoughts are that it is best for the girls to work things out on their own. They take responsibility for the friendship, they have their "rules" of friendship, and it is a learning experience for them which will help them as they grow older.

Allow your daughter to be excited and don't squash any of her feelings. Let her come up with her own resolutions as to how this friendship will work. Above all... Listen, listen listen and be there for her.

My daughter is 18. She had a good friend move across the country in December of their Junior year. They did stay in touch via Facebook and twitter. This past December, the friend moved back. This friendship is stronger now than it was when they were together at school during the Junior year, first semester. You just never know how things will pan out. They are both Seniors now looking forward to college and I believe this girl and my daughter will always be friends. They have helped each other through some hardships that 18 yr olds face... boys, studies, pressure to maintain the perfect grades, etc.

Let things fall into place... don't have expectations... and listen a lot.

Best wishes.


answers from Norfolk on

What will be will be.
They might re-connect or maybe they'll drift apart despite being closer together.
Try to stay neutral no matter what happens.



answers from Cumberland on

not sure-best not to have any preconceived notions about what will happen-my friends were always my friend's friends, and my friend's friends were always my friends. Everyone was friends with everyone back in the day-what happened?


answers from Tyler on

We went through something similar with my youngest daughter. She had a best friend from preschool through early elementary. They did all extra activities together, same gymnastics and dance classes, her mom and I were good friends, first sleepover, the works. We moved to a different elementary school zone at one point, not a big cross country move, but enough to make a dent in the time they spent together. At the same time, my daughter's interest in dance was increasing and sports were on the decline. The other girl's interests were the exact opposite. A couple of years go by and the girls grew naturally apart.

Middle school rolls around and they are both zoned for the same middle school. They were both super excited and were really pretty good friends through 6th grade, although it became pretty clear that the other girl was more accepted by the more popular and more athletic group of girls. My dd loathed pe classes and her favorite class was choir, polar opposite of old friend. At the end of 6th grade, old friend made cheerleader and volleyball sealing her spot with the popular girls. My daughter didn't make cheer and didn't even tryout for sports, sealing her fate as "not" in the popular group.

They don't even speak any longer. Is my daughter sad? Not really. She has a ton of friends who are like minded and with whom she has a lot in common. Old friend is still a great kid, and I'm still good friends with her mom, the girls just went separate paths. I think it is much harder on us moms than it is for the kids. Your daughter will be okay no matter what happens. If anything, my daughter has an appreciation for how "normal" the popular girls really are since she has known one of the girls her entire life! It knocks them off their pedestal just a tad :)


answers from Minneapolis on

I'm guessing that Izzy won't be in the same neighborhood as you to allow for the type of relationship they had in the past??? Assuming that, I'd plant some seeds in regards to that and that Izzy will reconnect in school with lots of friends and make some new ones. Friendships change and evolve.

Let it play out and see how it goes.

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