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Mum, have you got a Frenemy?
I talk a lot about how to cope when your child has a Frenemy but what about when you think you have one?
The biggest hurdle is simply being aware that you have a Frenemy. Many adults may have an inkling they have a Frenemy but are in denial because they see it as a weakness on their part for not standing up for themselves sooner. That is not true. It may be a sign that your self-esteem and confidence need working on but it’s not a sign that you are weak.
Frenemies can be incredibly difficult to recognise. They can be really lovely sometimes and usually aren’t aware of what they are doing. They use social and emotional forms of bullying which often go under the radar and by the time their behaviour is making an impact on your self-esteem you are already well used to the friendship being this way. As with everything it’s always easier for someone outside of the situation to recognise it first. That isn’t a reflection on you or your strength. When you’re the one living it day in and day out it can be ridiculously easy to not recognise the friendship for what it is. See this article as a sign for you to step back and take a look at your friendships. Do theyhelp or hinder you in life?
How can you recognise if you have one?
There are common traits of Frenemies no matter their age. The most important indication that you have a Frenemy is the way they make you feel. Frenemies will leave you feeling drained and often questioning yourself.
Frenemies typically get really close to you and then use what they know about you against you.
They get jealous of your friendships with others and will make you feel awkward or pressured if they aren’t included.
You will find they can’t celebrate any successes you have. From pay rises to a parenting win they’ll be right there ready to put you back ‘in your place’.
When you have spent time with them you’ll most often be left feeling drained, crappy, uninspired and often questioning yourself or your ability.
They love drama and use any opportunities to draw you in or stir up trouble for you.
If you set a goal they’ll be sure to achieve it first, and they’ll let you know about it because they like you to think they are better, more superior, than you.
Life is too short to be surrounded by people that drain us or make us feel crap. Surround yourself with those that lift you up, help you be the person you want to be and cheer you on when you succeed. You are the only one who can decide who gets to be a part of your life.
I often have parents message me to discuss their child’s Frenemies only to have the realisation that they in fact have a Frenemy themselves. They immediately do one of three things. They either panic that I’m going to suggest they instantly cut ties with this person (and they really don’t
want to), or they feel shame at not having recognised and dealt with it sooner, or they feel guilty because ‘it’s my fault my child thinks it’s ok to be treated that way’.
Firstly, you do not need to cut ties entirely. We can’t eliminate every behaviour we dislike in others but we can choose how we respond to them. It’s not always realistic to expect your child to cut ties with a Frenemy and it’s the same for you. You might work with them, they may be a relative. Whoever they are to you, cutting ties isn’t always the answer. The solution is always to have the awareness and confidence to set clear boundaries.
Setting boundaries requires you to know a few things about yourself first. You need to know what you want from friends. What makes a good friend to you? For me, some of the most important traits of my friends are honesty, integrity and taking responsibility. What is important to me may not be to you so what’s the top three things you need for someone to qualify as a good friend?
Equally you need to know what you absolutely can not tolerate. What lines do you need to put in the sand that once crossed gives you a clear indicator that you need to re-evaluate your friendship with that person?
In a nutshell you need to get really clear on what’s important to you and if those around you match.
If you’re feeling guilty because you feel you are in some way to blame for your child having a Frenemy by setting the example yourself, please let it go. Guilt will eat you up and waste your energy. We all make mistakes, we are human. You can not protect your child from every difficult or
painful experience. However, you can help them turn it into an opportunity to learn, evolve and develop their own power. Let go of any guilt and blame and focus all of your energy of empowering your child to have friends and relationships that help them love life and feel great.
Lastly, I want to end with a promise.
Most adults and children alike worry that if they set clear boundaries or cut these people out of their lives they will end up friendless and lonely. Please believe me when I say that the moment you make the decision to up level the relationships in your life you will instantly start to attract like minded people. Every member of my family has experienced that period of time when you feel you’ve just wiped out your future social life in one fell swoop BUT every single one will also tell you it was worth every moment for all the true friendships they now have in their lives. The friendships that leave them feeling energised, supported and accepted for exactly who they are.
It’s not always easy but I whole-heartedly believe it is worthwhile.
Gemma Hills – The Anti-Bullying Mum works with parents to help their
children deal with and overcome bullying. When her daughter was bullied
she struggled to find someone she could go to to find out what she could
do to make it stop. Since then Gemma has worked to ensure no other parent
is left to deal with their child being bullied alone and without support.
Gemma covers what the parent, child and school can do to make the bullying
You can find Gemma on her on Facebook www.Facebook.com/antibullyingmum or