Dec 18, 2015

Intervention


These four cutie-pies are the bomb! They are exactly the kind of friends you want to help navigate the oftentimes muddy waters of middle school. They are kind, caring, helpful, funny, and best friends....except for when they're not.

For the past month this little band of sisters has had a spur in their saddle. Nobody could put their finger on exactly what the problem was, but it was very evident that there was a problem. A big one of course, cuz this is middle school and even a tiny problem gets blown out of size to epic proportions. Suddenly all the kindness, caring and helpfulness was disappearing. In it's place we saw impatience, talking behind each other's backs and alienation. It wasn't pretty.

Chloe talked to me about it when she started feeling the discord. I asked her if there was anything I could do to help. She said no. Each day I would ask how things were going and each day they were slowly going downhill. The snowball was growing.

But conflict is a normal part of life and it was important for me to let the girls try to work this out without interfering. But then their teacher starts to notice. The teacher called a meeting with the girls since this little rift was starting to put the whole class out of balance. There was a temporary truce, but no heart changes. Feelings were still hurt. Anger was still in the air. Emotions still raw.

Thank God one of the moms texted me and asked if I knew what was going on and if she and I would like to get together to talk about it. What a brave mom. I'm so thankful for her because she set in motion a series of events that saved these Fab Four. After our little chat we agreed to get all the girls together at my house that very night, we couldn't waste another minute. I had the lovely task of trying to reach the other moms and explain the game-plan. The other moms were rockstars as well and dropped everything to come over to my house with their daughters for operation: SAVE THE FRIENDSHIP.

In effect we staged an intervention. The girls were unable to work through their problems (turns out they didn't know how). The awesome teacher was unable to get to the root of the problem (turns out they were scared of getting in trouble so they just clammed up and didn't talk). So I explained to the moms that my goal was to offer them a safe place to talk and I would walk them through this hard place and teach them how to handle conflict. I spent the afternoon praying about it and was really peaceful when everyone finally got here.

You could tell that each girl was nervous. Each mom was anxious as well but only because they couldn't stand to see this friendship fall apart. They were so gracious to trust me as I held their daughters' hearts in my hands and walked them through this hard place.

The girls and I sat in a circle while the moms sat around the perimeter. I told the girls that they were in no way in trouble (an audible sigh was heard) but that we moms valued their friendship so much that we felt we needed to help guide them through this rough patch. I explained that what they were going through was completely normal and they will most likely have an argument of this magnitude again in the future and we wanted to teach them how to navigate these rough waters. That's what parents do!

We started by going around and each person said what they valued most about each other. Then came the hard part, they had to go around and tell each person what was currently frustrating them the most about each other. I explained that sometimes it's really hard to hear this news. I also shared with them how I react when someone who loves me tells me something hard to hear. I told them it's ok to cry and be sad but also to realize that this person loves you and needs to share this frustration in order to continue to have a healthy relationship. As friends we have to take the good with the bad.

Surprisingly, the second part of their sharing went super smooth. Each girl would shake her head and acknowledge that she was very aware that this was one of her weaknesses (as would the moms). Then they decided on a code word for each girl that they would tell them when they felt that they were starting to exhibit those frustrating behaviors.  In effect, we wanted to empower them to stop an argument before it even starts. Sometimes we have a hard time seeing when we're being bossy, or impatient, or overly sensitive or snappy. That's what friends are for - to help call us out on these things.

You should have seen the smiles all around. You could see the burden come off of each of their little shoulders. Then they started talking all on their own without my asking any questions. They apologized for hurting each other these past few weeks. They talked about how worried each of them had been. They talked about how thankful they were for this time and this safe place to share.

I'm so incredibly thankful for the other moms who showed their girls a healthy way to handle a problem, who took the time to care (even though it was late at night, inconvenient, and unscheduled), and value a friend as much as I do. This was truly a team effort and the girls reaped the benefit.

What a beautiful example of friendship.



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