I Don't Encourage My Daughter to Be Friends With Girls -- for Her Own Good

girl and boy playing
iStock.com/ArtMarie
My 6-year-old daughter has no female friends. She has nothing against the other girls in her class, but given a choice, she'll socialize with the boys.

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I first became aware of this in day care, when I realized she knew all the names of the boys at her table, but none of the girls. When she started school, it was Adam she bonded with, not Anna. I've watched her at dozens of kids' parties, and the same thing happens at each one. While she'll talk to other girls, there's a definite disconnect. I'm not sure what's going through her head, but I imagine it's something like, "What planet did you come from?"

Initially, this concerned me a little. Why wasn't she hanging out with the other girls? What was the problem? But there was no problem -- just a natural affinity for boys. When most of the girls at a costume party are twirling around in princess dresses, my daughter will be showing off her superhero moves in her Spiderman costume. If Spider-Man wouldn't chew the fat with Princess Elsa, why the hell should she?

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The last thing I want to do is make her feel that there's something wrong with her choices. I refuse to force her to have playdates with girls. And over the last couple of years, I've discovered one massive benefit to this approach -- a complete lack of frenemy drama.

In a recent post on the SMC Education Blog, education writer Linda Stade states that the most likely "destructive influence on an adolescent girl's day to day life is the damage they do to one another in their friendship groups."

Stade may be talking about teens, but we all know girls can torment each other from a much younger age. A friend recently shared that her daughter's best friend is so possessive, she turns on her and calls her names if she plays with another child. Keep in mind, these girls are 6 years old. Another friend with a 10-year-old daughter spends far too much time in the principal's office trying to get to the bottom of the latest frenemy incident. Every time we meet, she has a new tale of betrayal and gossip and tears.

I'm not sure I believe 6-year-old girls can be deliberately mean, but adolescent girls certainly can -- it's what psychologists call "relational aggression." (For the rest of us, it's just called being a bitch.) Stade explains it: "creating exclusion to create inclusion." In other words, it's bringing someone else down to secure your own position. It's all about control, and it's the root of the frenemy phenomenon.

We may not have had a name for it in the 1980s, but I definitely recall a fair share of frenemy drama on my playground. Girls who were your friends one day, then whispering about you behind their cupped hands the next. Girls who would stalk around picking their friends, leaving the "rejects" red-faced and wishing the ground would swallow them up.

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Meanwhile, the boys sought to achieve top dog status by racing each other from one end of the playground to the other. The difference between my daughter and me is that I wanted to be part of the girl gang, whereas she doesn't care about fitting in with them. Even at the age of 6, she has a strength of character it took me many more years to find, and I want to do all I can to help preserve that.

I do hope she makes good female friends, like I have. There's nothing like having a woman in your life who is a true, treasured, kindred spirit -- a sister from another mother who has your back no matter what. My daughter has plenty of time to find herself a few of those. Chances are, she'll have to cope with a frenemy or two in her adolescent years. But I'm in no hurry for those days to come, so in the meantime, I'll leave it up to her to decide whether or not to invite a girl over to play. Until then, I'll let her call the shots on playground buddies and princess parties.

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