Friday, March 13, 2009

Your Tween Daughter's Friends

It has been a challenging week on the parental front.

My 9-year old daughter, Hannah, just discovered Webkinz and loves to log on every day to "feed" her pets, tend to her virtual garden and to play games in the arcade to earn Kinz Cash. She has built up a substantial reserve of money to purchase items for her online pets.

Upon logging into the site one day last week, we noticed that a great deal of dollars had vanished. My daughter didn't know how this could have happened. Then she remembered that recently, a school friend asked her for her user name and password for the WebKinz website. Hannah, who is an extremely trusting soul, freely gave this information to her friend. She still believes that people are basically good, and that no one would intentionally harm her. I explained to her that passwords were in place for security reasons, just like this scenario, so that her cash wouldn't be stolen. We discussed that there was no reason for any friend of hers to ask for her password for any website.

We debated many options for handling the possible Kinz cash hijacking. Was it a mistake? Did she spend the money herself, but had forgotten? Should she confront this friend to see if she confessed? Should we just let it ride, keep mum, but change her password? We decided upon the third option together, to just let it go this time. However, I advised my daughter that if this friend again asked for her password, I wanted to know.

A few days later, this same friend again asked Hannah for her password. This time, my daughter did not give out the information. I believe that this scenario saddened Hannah, and it has certainly saddened me. It is difficult to discover that someone you call "friend," would take advantage of you without remorse, and you learn that they were not your friend after all.

On another note, Hannah tried out for the 4th grade musical, "Bones," and was fortunate enough to snag the lead role. One of Hannah's friends tried out for the same part, and is still not speaking to my daughter because she is mad/sad/annoyed that Hannah got the part.

This friend is drama-prone and plays this "I'm mad at you" card too often. Instead of asking her friend "What's the matter?" over and over, Hannah is handling it differently this time. She is ignoring the drama, and not pandering to the friend's aloofness to her. I am proud of my daughter in choosing not to be a doormat to someone else's misguided emotions. Hannah asked me, "Am I supposed to feel badly that I was the one who got the part?"

As a parent, it is sooooooooooooooo difficult to stand by mutely and watch the behavior of these children. I want to step in and give them a verbal dressing down like you wouldn't believe, but alas, my hands are tied and my mouth is zippered shut. These are the life experiences that my daughter has to learn to navigate alone. I can listen, I can offer advice, and I can dry her tears, but I no longer can handle the problems for her, like I used to do when she was younger.

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