The Toxic Friendship: Frenemies

As parents, we spend a lot of time encouraging our teens to make new friends and cultivate the friendships they have. However, are we examining the types of friendships they have? How about negative relationships that are known as toxic friendships? One such toxic relationship that can exist particularly among teen girls is the so-called frenemy.

A frenemy is a person who was perhaps once a friend, but now the friendship has taken a negative turn and is now what we refer to as toxic. Rather than being a friend to your teen, the person is now just plain mean. As the SMC Education Blog explains, this type of relationship can lead to your teen not feeling good about themselves because of the way the frenemy is treating them. This type of friendship is characterized by hurtful behavior like put-downs, manipulation, giving the silent treatment, gossip, and placing conditions on the “friendship.”

As a parent, you can help your teen avoid these types of relationships and help them understand what positive relationships look like. According to Raising Children, begin by explaining that a positive relationship is one where the friend treats them with respect, looks out for them, is inclusive, and is caring towards them. Once your teen understands how they should be treated, this should help them better form their social group.

You can also help direct your teen to other teens you would like to see them spend time with. You can encourage your teen to try different activities to help foster more positive relationships. It also helps to encourage your teen to have friends from different social arenas. Some examples of this are friends in your neighborhood, from church, sports, school, and other social groups.

You can also help by encouraging your teen to invite friends to your home or other family activities so that you can observe the type of friendships they have and ensure the friendships are all positive in nature.

Additionally, talk to your teen about friendships by asking questions and keeping an ongoing dialogue so they feel open to discuss any issues that may come up.

If there are issues that come up and your teen is not able to avoid a frenemy, you can help. Encourage them to end the negative relationship by being open and saying that the friendship must end because they do not like how they are being treated.

If there is any backlash against your teen like bullying, talk to your teen and if necessary, get the school involved to help figure out a solution.

As a parent, continue to help your teen foster the positive relationships, but realize that there may be a few bumps in the road and let them know that you will work on them together. Be sure to keep an open dialogue going with your teen so that they can discuss any negative issues that potentially come up.

If you find that your teen is having difficulty navigating a difficult relationship, you can also seek the guidance of your teen’s school to help with the situation.

Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25-year olds and their families specializing in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety/OCD, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.


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