When my daughter was a mere six years old she experienced her first real heartbreak. She had made a beautiful connection with a girl in her kindergarten year, despite having very different cultural backgrounds my daughter and her friend were like two peas in a pod. They giggled, sang, played make believe and helped each other through being bullied by another little girl, and being chased by annoying boys, (their words, not mine). They also bonded over the fact that their mums were both pregnant and then later gave birth to baby brothers. They fell in love with one another, it was the kind of friendship every parent wants their child to have.
When they transitioned to ‘big’ school, they were the only two children to go from their kindergarten to this particular school, purely by coincidence they were both enrolled in the same school and had to pass a test and interviews to get in. Both families were thrilled to know the girls had each other, and we developed a wonderful friendship with this family. The girls stayed just as close through their first year of school, we shared pick ups and drop offs, my car was filled with chatter and loud singing alongs to the Charlie and Lola soundtrack.
When I attended the school parent/teacher interviews, the teachers spoke so positively about the girls friendship, noting how beautiful and supportive they were of one another, and how there was no dominant and submissive roles, they were simply equals, and so happy together.
Sadly at the end of the year, the little girls father got offered an amazing job opportunity far away, and decided to take it. After two years of happiness and security with one another these two little girls had to say goodbye. My daughter cried the weeks leading up to her friend leaving, and then every night after that for the entire summer. Her heart was truly broken, her world seemed uncertain.
“just because children are tiny, it doesn’t mean their feelings are”
The following year she strengthened a bond with another girl whom she had known in her first year of school and played with occasionally. Eventually they became inseparable. They played in a large group, but their bond soon strengthened and they spent every minute they could together, including weekend sleepovers. They looked very much alike, the same height, same hair colour, and length, teachers would get them confused.
Every year, since 2010 they have been in the same class, people don’t mention ‘one’ girl without mentioning the other. They are individuals with their own hobbies, and strengths, and as they have grown her friend has gotten taller and they look less alike, but still they have an incredible bond. There is no denying that my daughter has been blessed with two amazing best friends in her life!
Next year her best friend is changing schools, she will now be attending an all girls school near the city where her sisters go. My daughter is devastated. Not only that, but two of her other closest friends are also moving on to new schools. There is no denying this is a hard time for my thirteen year old daughter.
We live in a society where the greatest romance and loves of our lives are ‘meant’ to be those with whom we desire, or with our ‘Prince Charming’. Our little girls watch Disney movies where Princes’ rescue them from evil step sisters, poisoned apples and giant sea creatures, and then go on to live happily ever after. Well first of all our daughters don’t need to be rescued by a male as they can rescue themselves, but secondly they have other great loves in their lives and that is their bestest friends.
Childhood friendships are, (besides family love), the first love our children experience, it is pure, motivated by joy, acceptance and fun. I know as an adult that my friendships with my girlfriends are so important to me, having friends who just ‘get me’ and who have my back are truly precious!
I think we often underestimate how important our children’s friendships are to them. We play them down, thinking they are sweet and cute, but we don’t realise that these friendships are shaping them as well as making them feel loved, accepted and secure. When those friendships end, due to moving away, fights, or just growing apart, we as parents need to understand just how upsetting this is for our children!
Have you ever had your heart broken? Have you ever lost someone you love dearly? If you have then you will understand how painful that is. You wouldn’t want someone to dismiss your feelings. Just because our children are little, it does not mean their feelings are small, their feelings are just as real as ours, and they often have less ability to process those feelings. When a child experiences a broken heart we need to help guide them through this painful time.
Here are a few tips to help you guide them through.
- Acknowledge that their feelings are real.
- Allow them the time to grieve this relationship.
- Let them know that it is normal to feel hurt, even betrayed, and sad.
- It is OK to cry and let their feelings out.
- It is OK to feel angry.
- Let them know you are there for them.
- Be available for hugs and chats.
- Help channel their feelings into positive action, like drawing, gardening, playing with pets, swimming, playing sport.
- Advise them to keep a journal.
- Be patient, they may have mood swings.
- Plan a fun day for just you and your child.
- Help give them skills to make new friends.
- Don’t tell them they are overreacting, or belittle how they feel. Don’t tell them to just get over it.
- Set up some future play dates with some other children whose company your they enjoy.
Heartbreak at any age hurts, but with kindness, support and love they will get through it. Do you have any advice to share? Has your child ever had their heartbroken by a friend? Have you? Feel free to share in the comment section below.
Thank you for joining me, love Mac xx