Appreciating different flavors of friends
Episode 17 – Sophie, Age 10: Balancing a best friend and another friend
Think About It Questions
- Have you ever felt torn between two friends? How did you handle it? What would you do in Sophie’s situation?
- Why is it a good idea to have more than one friend?
- How does Dr. Friendtastic suggest that you can “soften a no”? Why might you want to do that? (Hink: How might the other person feel?)
- Have you ever worried about losing a friend if you spent time apart? What does it mean to “Trust that your friendship is strong enough to handle a bit of time apart”? Why is this important for a friendship?
Welcome! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.
Here’s today’s question:
Hi, my name is Sophie, and I am 10 years old. what do you do for if a classmate wants to sit with you on the bus, but you really want to sit with your best friend?
Hi, Sophie! That’s a tricky question! Thanks for sending it in.
On the one hand, you like your close friend a lot, so of course you want to spend as much time with her as possible.
Also, you two might have a routine of sitting together on the bus. You wouldn’t want your close friend to feel dumped because she was counting on sitting with you, but you suddenly sat with someone else.
On the flip side, this other friend is doing something kind: she’s telling you she likes you and wants to spend time with you. I’m sure you don’t want to hurt her feelings by responding to her kindness with rejection.
There’s no one correct answer in this situation. The important thing is to try to be kind and respectful to both friends and to yourself. Communicating clearly can help you do that.
If the bus seats are big enough, it might be a good idea to have the second friend join you and your close friend, so all three of you sit together. That way no one feels left out, but, of course, it wouldn’t be the same as just you and your close friend sitting together. Also, the bus driver might not allow three-to-a-seat.
Another option is to thank the second friend for her kind invitation and then explain to her that you’ve already promised to sit with your close friend (if that’s true).
A good way to soften a no is to tell someone, “I can’t do that, but I CAN do this.” So you could say, “I can’t sit with you on the bus in the morning, but I can sit with you on the afternoon ride” or “I can sit with you at lunch” or “I can get together with you after school.” The “I CAN do this” part shows that you care about the other friend, even if you’re not doing exactly what she wants.
Still another option is to talk with your close friend about sometimes mixing things up and sitting with other kids.
Why would you do that? Why not just stick with your closest friend all the time?
Think about your favorite dinner. Let’s say it’s spaghetti. Let’s say you love eating spaghetti. Why don’t you eat spaghetti for every single meal? Well, as much as you love spaghetti, there are probably other meals you like, too, so you don’t want to limit yourself to only eating spaghetti. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something else.
Eating other foods doesn’t take away from your love of spaghetti. In fact, having other meals lets you not only enjoy those meals but also look forward to having spaghetti again.
It’s the same with friends. Different friends bring different flavors into our lives. And that’s a good thing.
There’s one more layer to this problem: You might have a tiny bit of a fear that if YOU don’t sit with your close friend, someone else will, and maybe you could end up being replaced as a friend. Ouch! That would really hurt!
But just because you can imagine something doesn’t make it real or likely.
How long is your bus ride? My guess is it’s about 10 or 20 minutes. You like sitting with your close friend for that ride, but is the bus ride the only thing that’s propping up your friendship?
Probably not. I bet you and your close friend have a lot in common. and do lots of fun things together, and try to support each other…
Whatever you decide to do on the bus ride is not going to make or break your close friendship. You don’t have to grab onto this friend and hold her tightly to keep her from getting away. Trust that your friendship is strong enough to handle a bit of time apart if that’s what you choose.
This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on the podcast tab to see how to submit your question.