Middle School Girls Share About Friend Drama, Social Media, Pressures, And Parents

Raising Daughters | Middle School Girls


Are you feeling overwhelmed by the social whirlwinds and emotional storms of your middle school daughter? You’re not alone! This episode of Raising Daughters tackles the rollercoaster ride of these pre-teen years, featuring three insightful young women themselves. Join Dr. Tim Jordan, a leading expert on girls’ development, as he chats with these honest and articulate middle school girls about the real struggles of navigating friendships, social media pressures, and the ever-changing relationship with parents. They also share tips on how parents can best support them through the ups and downs of the middle school years. This episode is a must-listen for any parent with a daughter navigating the tricky terrain of middle school. Gain valuable insights and practical tips to support your daughter through these emotional and social challenges and empower her to build resilience and confidence as she blossoms into a young woman.

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Middle School Girls Share About Friend Drama, Social Media, Pressures, And Parents

I’ve got a treat for you in this episode because I have three middle school girls sitting around my table here at my office desk thing. I have two 8th graders and a 6th grader. I’ve known them for a long time. How long have I known you, guys?

You’ve known my sister for a long time.

You’ve been coming to camp since you were in fourth grade. They’ve come to the weekend retreats and summer camps. I’ve known them very well. They’re very articulate, deep, and honest, which is why I asked them to come. I want them to be honest about what the experience is like for girls in middle school.

For those of you who have daughters who are in middle school or who have just left middle school and they’re in high school, or you have daughters in grade school who are approaching middle school, this would be an interesting conversation to give you a sense of how are they thinking. Also, what are they feeling and experiencing? What are some of the highs, the lows, and the adversities that they’re bumping up against? First of all, thank you for coming and being part of the show.

Middle School Drama

Let’s talk first about friends because if you talk to most adults and ask them, “Would you want to go back in time and go back to your middle school years?” almost all of them are like, “No. That was the worst time of my life.” I was talking to somebody and they said, “What were you doing last weekend?” I said, “I got to spend the weekend with eighteen middle school girls.” They’re like, “You must be a saint. You poor thing.” People have such a jaded view, and part of it is because of all the drama that they experience while going through middle school. I’m wondering if there is any drama at all in middle school now.

Yes. Very much so.

What does it look like now because people worry a lot about cyberbullying? Parents are so freaked out by that, but I think most of it is not that.

I think it has probably evolved from what it was before. I think now it is a lot about social media. Maybe not so much cyberbullying, but a lot about status. I think there’s a hierarchy in how you are online that plays a role in who you are offline.

Do you mean what?

It’s the followers, likes, or how people react to things you post or things you like that play a role in who you are and how popular you are. Popular might not be the best word, but how liked you are is based on social media views and whatnot, which I think plays a role in your status in school.

I also feel like drama, issues, phones, and communicating over text rather than talking to people also play a big part in it, in my experience. I feel like a lot of times, people don’t want to work it out through talking to you. They just want to text you, screenshot your messages, and send them to people. However, I also feel like that leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation of tones and the meaning of what people are trying to say. I feel like it gets lost in translation a lot of times over the phone or not talking over the phone and just texting people. I think that that can also play a big role in issues and drama that goes on.

You all are nodding. You all are aware that that’s true and yet I think, true or not true, people still communicate that way mostly even though it lends itself to a lot of misunderstandings and exaggerations. I think even if you’re FaceTiming or you can see the person, it’s better than not, but I think there’s still a lot you miss. How about you? What’s your experience as far as friendships and what goes on?

There are a lot of people in my school who will start rumors and a lot of people are hurt by that. It’s hard to explain, but non-true things will go around people and people start believing that. Also, there’s a standard, I guess.

Standard in what ways?

If people start believing these things about you and start thinking that’s how you act or something, then they’re going to judge you based on that and then those things aren’t true.

I tell parents in a lot of my talks and things that girls have a hard time directly handling their conflicts for a lot of reasons. That’s a whole other episode in and of itself, but because of that, there are a lot of misunderstandings and it’s hard for girls to go to people and say, “I heard this,” or “I don’t like what you were saying,” or, “I don’t appreciate that.” Is it true that girls your age have a hard time addressing things?


Tell me about your experience.

My friends will get mad at me or something and then they won’t even say anything. They’ll just act or make little digs at you or something like they’re mad at someone. They won’t say it straight to your face. They’ll give you hints to let you know that they’re mad at you.

I think there’s also a huge fear of judgment within friends or people in general. If you feel offended or you’ve been targeted in some way, you don’t always want to go up and talk to the person because there’s always a fear that they’ll laugh about it with their friends after or you’re not going to be taken seriously.

I think also you might be seen as a joke, which probably isn’t true, but I feel like, at least for me, that’s my thought process. I’d rather feel that I was targeted and offended rather than being made fun of directly. It was something that I had misinterpreted rather than something that had been specifically towards me in a way.

As you think about going to school on Sunday night or every school morning for that matter, what’s the cost to you when it comes to safety, vulnerability, being authentic, and all that?

I don’t know. I think you get distracted. You’re in school to learn how to interact socially, but you’re also trying to heighten your education. I think being distracted, that’s something that you lose through school. I think being vulnerable is something scary in itself. I don’t know if you think about the cost of it, but just the idea of it is scary.

It’s like being yourself and not even necessarily being vulnerable. For me, it costs me to fully express myself comfortably in fear of judgment, being a joke to a friend group, or whatever, like becoming a bit in somebody’s little group.

Have you all experienced being left out, excluded, losing a friend, or losing a group? What was your experience like with that?

You don’t know what to do after. “They are not my friends anymore. Where do I go now? Who do I become friends with now?” I’ve always been an outgoing person and I like to be friends with a lot of people, but some of them are mean and then I just don’t know where to go.

For me, I’ve always felt like a floater friend. I’ve not had a set friend group. I’ve been in all the friend groups. I hang out with everybody. To an extent, I’m included everywhere, but that also comes with being excluded from everything. It’s kind of not fully ever being included in that friend group’s activities or hangouts because I’m not a part of their group because I’m kind of a part of everybody’s group.

The value that I see as an adult is good for you if you can go to different groups. I think that’s healthy. There are different kinds of people. This is what girls have told me. Tell me if it’s true for you. They have the freedom to sit at any table, but even if they sit at a table where people aren’t like, “You can’t sit here,” and you’re allowed to sit there, you don’t know what’s going on some of the times because you weren’t out with them last weekend. You’re on the first list of people they call and a lot of girls have told me, “I’m like a second fiddle. I’m a third wheel.” Is that true as a floater?

Yeah. It feels like I’m a fifth wheel sometimes. I’m the odd one out in most of the groups.

Have you ever gone through a time when you were one of those kids where there was no table to sit at? Tell me about that. One of the saddest stories I hear is when girls tell me in middle school and high school, “There’s nowhere to sit in the cafeteria.” They go to the bathroom. They go to the office or their classroom. What was it like for whoever has experienced that?

No one will be like, “You can’t sit with us,” anymore like the movies. That isn’t what happens, but I think sitting down and knowing that you’re unwanted or that you don’t contribute anything to the conversation. It’s very lonely. I feel like you lose a sense of who you are because you’re trying to fit in with people and trying to mold yourself into the way that people like. Also, you slowly start to lose who you are. Once you finally regain that confidence in who you are, you figure out that you don’t have anyone. It’s lonely, I think, is the right word to use. Being excluded is just lonely.

Do you guys talk to your parents about those times when things aren’t going well or when you feel lonely?

Yeah. I joke about it with them. I don’t know if I’ve ever sat down and had a real conversation because I think it’s always silly now that I’ve grown up a little bit with it.

What part is silly?

All of it. Middle school drama, whenever you think about it, is childish in a way. I guess whenever you’re a part of it, it doesn’t seem childish, but once you’ve stepped back and gotten a third perspective, it seems a little silly and childish. I think that’s where I can find the light in it that, hopefully, one day, it’ll move on and become something that is in the past. I think that’s what I can joke with people and my parents about because they’ve experienced it and they’re obviously older than I am. Also, it seems probably childish to them, so I can relate.

For me, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m able to take a big step back and be like, “It’s not that deep.” It seems like a big deal to me right now, but it’s going to be fine. If I am lonely or whatever, I think that is very true. It’s not that deep. I do talk to my parents about it sometimes, but even if they help me, be like, “It’s going to be okay. It does feel like a big deal right now, but it’ll be fine.” I’m leaving this school because my school stops at eighth-grade school. That is also something that helps me. I’m like, “I am going to be out of here in less than a month. It’s okay.”

We’ve probably talked in some of the retreats or camps about the spiral of beliefs too many times. You have experienced things. You two are in eighth grade and you are moving on. You may have a little bit different perspective than sixth grade, maybe, although you’re very mature. One of the reasons why we sometimes talk about it at camp is that you may move to another school and go to high school.

You move on, but sometimes what does move on or what goes with you is old beliefs about yourself or about, “I’m not good enough. I’m not cool enough. There’s something wrong with me. I’m weird. I’m awkward.” I don’t want you guys leaving middle school with baggage or beliefs like that that are going to affect how you show up when you are starting high school. Does anything help, by the way? Does it help you be aware of those beliefs?


I have a quick note. I have a lot of close friends that I’ve made at camp. I do know that my school friends aren’t defining because I feel like a lot of them don’t know me too well. It’s more surface-level friendships when I’m with them, but my camp friends are really good friends. My school friends and what they think of me or beliefs that I’ve gotten from them don’t affect me very much because I know that there are people who know me much better who don’t think of me in that way.

Shift In Parent-Daughter Relationship

That’s good validation. It’s not me. I believed that it’s me, but when I go into a safe environment where I can be myself and people love me, accept me, or affirm me, it’s like, “I don’t need to believe that stuff because that doesn’t belong to me.” I’m curious about how your relationship has shifted with your parents now that you are growing up.

It’s different because you have a say. It feels like you’re more a part of something because when you’re younger, you’re not always a part of the conversation or something, but you become older and all that. Also, it feels like it can become more distant if you get distracted with other things like friends or homework. If you want to hang out in the mall, then you don’t have time to spend with your parents even though you want a bigger relationship with them.

You feel pulled. You may want some time with your parents sometimes, but on the other hand, you got your activities and your sports. You have school, you have your friends, and all that stuff, so it’s hard for everybody to find the time. How about you two? How has your relationship with your parents?

I’ve been in certain situations where I’ve been forced to grow up in some senses. Maybe growing up isn’t the word, but mature in some ways that my siblings or other kids haven’t. Being the youngest to significantly older siblings has also put a completely different perspective on my and my parents’ relationship because the way they raised my siblings is different from the way they raised me. Our relationship is closer in some aspects. As I mentioned before, I can sit and laugh and talk to them about hard things that are going on in my life, but I’ll never be able to sit in a conversation and be taken seriously with other people. I think that’s something that’s changed.

What do you mean?

My family has gone through a couple of difficult times recently, and I’ll never be able to sit in conversations about those things or about the people.

You’ve been through some adversity in your family, and it’s made it hard for you to relate sometimes.

They’ll never let me into their conversations seriously. I’ll always be the younger and I have to hear about it from someone else or another sibling. It’s hard because you think you have this relationship with your parents. It’s easy and nice, and then you hear what they’re saying and what they’re not including you in. They assume it’s for the greater good, but it makes me feel like I’m not a part of the family in a sense. I think that’s evolved. That type of separation has evolved into a close-knit type of relationship.

Also, you lack information. I’ve talked to girls your age and they’re like, “Just tell me. I’m making up all this stuff in my head. You don’t give me information and I’d rather. I can deal with it. It may be hard, it might be sad, or whatever for a while, but at least I can deal with that. It’s hard to deal with these stories that I’m making up in my head.”

At least me personally, you make them worse. I make the situation seem much worse than it is in my head and then I hear it and I’m like, “This would’ve made me feel so much better if they had just told me firsthand.”

Has it been hard for your parents to take you guys more seriously and look at you like you’re growing up as opposed to a kid? You guys are on that transition in life. Has it been hard for your parents to see you as being more grown up?

I’m the oldest sister. I have one younger sibling. I am the oldest, but I’ve been expected to be the more mature one even when I was younger and I didn’t have to be. I was ten. I didn’t have to be mature and act old for my age or whatever. I don’t know. I also think that having a somewhat significantly younger sibling has played a role in it, but the “She’s okay. She’s older. We don’t need to give her as much attention. She can take care of it.” I think that has been how it was for a while.

I’ve only known you for a few years. You were probably in third grade when you started camp. You were like a little adult the first time I met you. All three of you, that’s just who you are. It doesn’t mean you don’t have needs. It doesn’t mean your sibling’s needs are more important, but I guess sometimes it’s like, “She’s fine. We need to put out fires.” This is similar but related. Are your parents too worried about you? Are they sometimes too much in your business?

This isn’t always, but sometimes I’ll get asked a lot of questions as soon as I get home or something. It’s like, “Can I have a second to chill or something because school can be a lot and it’s seven hours five days a week.” You just have to settle down first, and then you can answer all these questions, I feel.

I bet that’s even truer if you walk in the door with a look on your face or you’ve had a bad day. Before you even walk in the front door, they read your energy while you walk off the bus, and they’re like, “What’s wrong? What happened?” You’re like, “Just give me some time.” Is that true for you guys, too?


I’m sure you’ve told them, “Give me a break. Let me have some time to relax and let the day go,” but it sounds like they still don’t always respect that.

It’s like a reaction that you don’t expect. You’ve had a bad day, you go in, and they’re trying to talk to you, which for me at least, I appreciate the effort to try and understand, but I need a moment like you said, and I need some time by myself. You get this reaction where it’s like, “You don’t want to talk to me? What am I even here for?”

They guilt you.

Now, my day is significantly worse than it was before, and I don’t want to talk to you at all. Also, you’re not trying to be rude. It’s nice that they’re understanding, but to be understanding, you have to understand that sometimes all I need is a moment to myself.

Parents should understand that sometimes their kids need a moment to themselves. Click To Tweet

You need downtime.

As long as you circle back later. Do you do that?

Sometimes and sometimes, I don’t.

I describe it to parents sometimes. It’s like the hot potato game. This is a little bit different, but sometimes you’ll come home with all this stuff that’s happened and you’ll be like, “Blah, blah, blah,” and then the parents stand there, then you stomp off, and they’re staying there holding all that like, “My daughter’s sad. She’s angry. She’s mad. Nobody likes her. She has no friends. She’s sitting in the library for lunch.” You stomp off and they’re like, “What am I supposed to do with all this emotion?” I tell them to don’t play hot potato. That’s your daughter’s stuff, but it’s hard sometimes for parents not to grab the hot potato.

I think that’s also the conversation that we’ve had a couple of times at camp where it’s a situation where you need to sit down and be like, “I need to have you listen to me and you don’t have to come up with solutions. I just need you to sit there and listen. You don’t need to help me fix it. I would like to tell somebody. I’ve used that, I think, once or twice with my mom. It might not always work, but I think giving them the heads-up isn’t a problem that you need to solve. This is a conversation that I need to have with you that you need to listen to.


Raising Daughters | Middle School Girls


Sometimes, you just want to be heard. You don’t want to be fixed or rescued or you want to problem-solve. “I just need someone to see me, hear me, and understand.” That’s a hard thing for parents to grasp especially dads. Our brains are wired to go into fix-it mode. I’ve shown you those pictures of the brain at camp, but I think that’s true for a lot of men. They go right into, “I got to solve this problem. I got to fix it,” mode.

Sometimes, if you preface the conversation with, “Please just listen. I don’t want you to interrupt me. I don’t want you to judge it, make me wrong, make me wrong, or make it about you.” What I hear a lot from girls is they’ll have their parents, especially their moms, say things like, “What do you think my name is,” and then they go off about all their stuff.

They’re like, “This is about me and my feelings. How did it suddenly get diverted?” It’s a hard one for parents, but I think I would persist in giving them a heads-up like, “Please just listen. I don’t want advice at the end. If I want advice, I’ll ask for it.” I’m talking to all the parents reading into this. That’s a hard concept for some parents to grasp. Is that true for your parents?

Give parents a heads-up and tell them, “Listen. I don't want advice. If I wanted advice, I'd ask for it.” Click To Tweet

I think definitely.

Sometimes, at camp, we do an exercise called cross the line. We lay a rope down on the floor and all the girls will go on one side of the line. We’ll throw out scenarios like, “Cross the line if you have an annoying sibling.” If it’s true, you cross the line. If it’s not, you stay. It’s like an observation. There’s no talking other than the person giving the thing, so we can see how many people have that in common with me.

One of the questions that we’ve been seeing a different response to in the last few years is when we say, “Cross the line if you ever worry about your future.” Even when we do it with grade school girls, most of them cross the line. Later on, we process those kinds of things. They’re already worried about college and their careers. Is that true for you guys?


Talk about that for a minute so parents understand why you guys are so worried.

I feel like I’ve always had big aspirations. I want to go into the film industry, which has always been something that I’ve been passionate about and wanted to do since I was young. I’ve always been more artistic and never interested in a 9:00 to 5:00 office job that I know will pay well, but for me, that’s something that I’m always thinking about. What if I do have to end up in an office for my job, settling for something that is not something that I’m passionate about? My life is going to be miserable and I’m going to be living alone in an apartment, waking up at 4:00 AM every morning just to do something that I hate.

For the film industry, it depends on what you do, but it’s not guaranteed you are going to make a lot of money. Even just any of the arts that I’m passionate about is not something that is guaranteed that you’re going to be as stable. That’s something that I think about a lot, just like college. Seeing college acceptance videos all over online right now is like, “What if I don’t get into the college that I want to get into,” which is an 8% acceptance rate. I have way less of a chance of not getting in than I do of getting in. Obviously, there are other great colleges out there that I could get into, but I don’t know. I feel like I’m spiraling right now.

When did you start looking at those videos? What grade were you in when you started looking at those videos?

I don’t seek them out.

When I was in eighth grade, I was not looking at college acceptance videos. There wasn’t YouTube and TV, but that urge to or that thought to, where did that come from?

Parents’ Expectations

I’m sure little boys do, too, but I feel like growing up as a little girl who always had huge dreams. You hear girls and be like, “I want to grow up and be a princess.” You can’t do that, but growing up as a little girl, you had huge expectations and big dreams. I think you slowly start to ease your way into reality and how to make those dreams real. They get harder and harder. Especially in eighth grade, for me, this is the year that you have to relax before the next four years determine your life. That’s how it’s set up nowadays.

If you don’t do well in freshman year, then you won’t do well in sophomore year. If you don’t do well in sophomore year, junior year is the most important year. If you don’t do well in junior year, then you’re screwed ever. You don’t get into the college you want and the spiral of that is starting to become a norm within society. If you’re not worried about it, then you don’t care enough. It’s like, “What are you even doing if you’re not worrying about it and trying to meet these huge expectations that everyone in yourself has set for you.” That has become an expectation to have huge issues.

I feel it as if you’re talking for you. I hope your parents are reading this. This is what young people now are experiencing. These are not high school seniors. These are not 23-year-olds graduating from college. These are 13, 14, and 12-year-old girls. We may have talked about this at camp, but maybe not. We talked about sometimes in the high school camp. Are you aware that what you just said is BS?


I’m thinking about whether my whole life is going to be derailed if I don’t do well in my freshman year of high school. If I don’t get good grades in high school, I can’t get to this top college. Are you aware that’s BS?


It’s not true. If you flunk out of school, you’re smoking pot every day and you’re skipping school, you still can have a great life. I’m not saying to do that, but I’m just saying there are a lot of people who did just fine in life who weren’t straight-A students in grade school, middle school, high school, and or college. They did not go to a top college. That’s just not true. The part that worries me is there’s so much stress and pressure that is put on you all at way too young. You should have it all figured out. You should be thinking about it and have this goal. “Here’s my goal when I’m 40. I’m on that path now and I’m going to grind my way to that.” Does it ever feel like that?


That is so unhealthy. Even if you’re going to be an artist in some way, whether you’re making films or whatever your art thing looks like. Do you know my son John?


Do you know what he does? He’s in a documentary-making business. He went to ASU or Arizona State University. He majored in global studies and Spanish. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. When he finished college, he traveled for like eight months all over South America with TJ, who you guys know. He has always loved movies and reading. He loves history and all that together. In New York, he didn’t know anybody. He didn’t have a degree from USC in film. He just went there and he made his way.

His first job, besides working at a Belgium beer bar to be able to pay for his little crappy apartment, was he worked on the Spanish game show. He was a gofer. Somebody is like, “Go get me coffee,” or, “Do this,” because he spoke fluent Spanish, but he met someone there who had got a job after that at another documentary thing. She said, “I want you to come,” and then he just made his way up. A few later, he’s producing documentaries for HBO. He’s working with a company, but he’s still the producer. He’s the producer in the one he is working on right now. There are lots of ways to get there, but I’m afraid that you guys are not being told that.

There’s TikTok. I see videos that are like, “You got to lock in freshman year and grind.”

Did they say grind? I hate that word.

I’ll see videos especially now because it’s college acceptance. “These are all of the things that I did to get into my 6% acceptance rate college. How did I get into Harvard?” I’m like, “I’m fourteen. I’m what?” Their GPAs are 7 and I’m like, “This is just absurd.”

You guys need to tell me yes or no, but I don’t hear from people in your generation and high school anything about, “I’m taking classes I love to take because I have an interest in it,” as opposed to what’s going to look good in my resume. “I’ve already got it all mapped out. If I’m going to go to this or that, I should take this class.” I think that middle high school counselors tell you guys that. “If you’re going to be an accountant, you should be taking Algebra 2 when you’re a freshman.” I’m like, “Wait a minute. I’m in eighth grade. I supposed to be knowing what I’m going to do in my life.”

I feel like my parents play a role in that. I was looking at the class options for freshmen, and I was like, “I want to take the American Film History and Art class.” My mom was like, “What about finances?” I was like, “What about finances?” She was like, “You should try to get a finance course out over the summer.” I was like, “I only get three electives and that’s not something that I want to do.” I feel like even parents play a role in, “You have to do this. You have to take X, Y, and Z courses because otherwise, you’re not going to be successful.” I’m like, “I’m a freshman. I’m fourteen years old and it’s okay if I don’t take one.”

It’d be good at some point in high school or college to take a finance class about how to balance a budget. There are some good practical money skills that most of us didn’t get growing up, unfortunately. I don’t think you should major in finance, but I think having some education about that. I think that’s what your parents are probably saying, “I want you to know about money, taking care of yourself, and all that,” but sometimes it comes across as a little bit different.

I have a new topic, which is feelings overload. I think you’re at an age when there’s just lots going on. There are lots of changes and the emotional parts of your brain are maturing. They’re pretty much there by the time you’re fourteen-ish and they’re wired really well, but the part of the brain that controls your emotions, your prefrontal cortex, is not mature yet. It won’t be for girls until you’re twenty-ish, at least. For boys, not until 25 or 30 or ever. My point, though, is that do you guys get overloaded? Do you guys get overwhelmed?

Majorly. It’s like a school on top of this and on top of this. There will be a lot going on. “I have to finish this. I have to practice this. I have to do all this.” It’s like, “I can’t do this right now.” It becomes a lot and you burst out into all these emotions and it’s like, “I don’t know what’s happening right now. Why do I have to?”

For you, it’s about a lot of things on your plate. Sometimes it feels like, “I’m not going to get it all done.” What happens? You blow. Are you blowing, just crying or getting anxious? What does your blowing look like?

Probably getting upset and then shutting down. I feel like I just don’t want to do this right now. I just can’t, and then I’ll put it aside or something.

Things build up, you procrastinate, and now you’ve got eight things to do instead of one. You get more worried and anxious and then what?

You get all this pressure on you and it can become a lot.

Do you ever get the emotional overload?

I get angry. I stop talking. I’ve stopped wanting to be around people. I don’t want to talk to anyone and it’s not like I do anything. I specifically go out of my way not to do things. I don’t do after-school activities. I go home. I go to bed. I go to school. It’s all I do to avoid pressures like that, but it just happens. Just like living life, things build up. I personally get so angry and I’ll snap at people and I will stop talking. I won’t want to be around people and I don’t know what to do about it.

As you may have learned from camp, anytime you have any emotion, it’s always good to step back and say, “What’s my anger telling me right now?” If you ever get anxious and have anxiety, when that comes up, it’s easy to shut down, not want to think about it, not want to feel it, and all that. You then lose out on allowing yourself to feel angry, anxious, or sad for a little while and say, “What’s this telling me? It’s okay. Let me just be in it for a little bit,” so you can discover what’s this anger about. What’s it telling me?

Anger oftentimes is telling you that you need to do something. You need to take some action. You need to set a boundary. Somebody is stepping on your toes. There’s been an injustice. It may not be even an injustice to you. It may be world injustices. I know how deeply you think and feel. It also may be telling you that you need some alone time to do that kind of soul-searching and reflecting. Do you ever do that?

Yes. I’m alone all the time. I like it. I prefer to be alone. I feel like I might be the opposite. I feel like I might need to be around people to detox, in a sense, but I don’t like it. I don’t even know how to explain it. For me, I’m alone a lot. As I said, I get home from school and I am in my room on my phone, writing, journaling, or whatever. I feel like that’s bringing me out of learning how to be social with people. I forget what it’s like and how enjoyable it is to be around people, especially outside of school, because I go to school every day. That’s where I get annoyed and aggravated because I have classes. Also, I think I forget how to be around people without having expectations and responsibilities and just allowing myself to enjoy the time I’m having with people. I think that’s what I forget a lot.

You like being in the moment, having fun, and being silly.

There are so many things in my life that I have to do or I think I have to do and I forget to allow myself to have time when I don’t need to be worrying about those things.

I want you to speak to this, too. I wonder also if it’s true for all of you. I also think sometimes you’re, and this may not be true for you, but for a lot of girls, their alone time is device time. They’re alone in their room. You said you write, which is good, but a lot of times, they’re not doing much soul-searching, thinking, and reflecting that or that kind. They’re more like scrolling TikTok. They’re looking at videos and, and spending anywhere from 2 to 4 to 6 to 8.

I told you, when I had some older camp counselors, they were high school seniors here around this table and we were talking about social media. I said, “How much time do you spend on your devices every day? They said about 3 or 4 hours. I said, “Pull out your phones.” They pulled their phones out and the lowest was six and a half. One of them was eight, and that didn’t count as school. I think sometimes alone time isn’t rejuvenating time. It can be fun scrolling and all that, but it doesn’t give you energy. It doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t release. It is what it is. What is your experience in your emotional life?

I think it’s similar. I tend to shut down and tell people to stop. I don’t want to talk to you or I get mean and I snap at people. I end up hurting people’s feelings that I don’t mean to. I am just overwhelmed or anxious. I think, for me, it’s a lot of school-related stuff. I get agitated with people at school because I’m not super good friends with anybody there. I feel like sometimes it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed with schoolwork and then get agitated with people at school and not talk to them or snap at them when they try to talk to me.

Do you have one of those resting faces?


I do. I’m like, “I don’t approach me if I don’t approach you. It looks like me snapping at people and being mean, which I can admit I used to be like, “No, I’m not mean ever.” “You are when you get mad, anxious, overwhelmed,” and stuff. I like being alone a lot, but for me, it’s more like I like being away from people at school.

For me, it is super nice. Any opportunity that I get, unless I’m super overwhelmed or tired or something, I will hang out with people outside of school, like my camp friends, because it’s recharging for me. Even when I am overwhelmed, I love being with these people and it helps me a lot to be around my actual close friends.

Those are grounding for you, probably.


Probably hanging with people who match your level of maturity, which I know sometimes you’ve had a hard time finding those people at school. How long have you been in that school?

Since I was younger than kindergarten in preschool.

Those are people you’ve known a lot. You’re like siblings, probably. It’s a pretty small school. Now you’re at the end of eighth grade and you are like, I’m so sick of these people. I’m ready for a change.” That’s not necessarily an indictment of them, although it might be some of them, but it’s also like, “I’m ready. I’ve never quite fit the maturity level of a lot of the people in my class, so it’s been hard for me to relate to them. How about you? What’s your experience been?

Social Media

I love being social. Friends at school are more surface-level friends and I think being social with them is not the same as having deep friendships. It is better than school, I feel like. It’s a lot.

I tell parents that every girl needs safe places where they can let their hair down, be themselves, be authentic, be validated, and all that. I don’t know that a lot of girls have that. There are hallways [Ma5] of middle school that are not that for most girls. Probably all girls or most girls, so they need some protected spaces where they don’t have to worry about all that. They’re not being judged. They don’t have to care about how they look and all that. They can just be themselves. Is that true?


Raising Daughters | Middle School Girls


It’s true.

This is a promotion for camp.

The camp isn’t the only place, but I think some place. They need some place to have that. A lot of parents are worried about social media. How old were you when you got your first phone? Not an iPhone, but a smartphone. How old were you when you got your first smartphone?

I must have been six.

Six years old? In first grade. When did you get your first smartphone?

I got my first functioning phone when I was twelve.

In sixth grade.

Yeah, but my mom gave me her old phone when I was seven and that’s just games.

I mean a smartphone. How about you?

I got a phone with games on it or fun stuff like that when I was six and then in fifth grade or the middle of fifth grade, I got an actual phone.

How old were you when you first got on social media?

It was in 2016 when I got on TikTok, which was Musical.ly at the time.

How about you?

I got Instagram for my thirteenth birthday, I think, and I got TikTok a few months ago.

I was allowed TikTok in COVID because I was very bored and that was third grade-ish.

It was 2020-ish.

My parents, especially my mom, do not want me to have too much exposure to a lot of social media because it is not the greatest for you.

Parents do not want their kids to have too much exposure to social media because it is not great for them. Click To Tweet

A lot of parents worry about cyberbullying because they see stories on the news and stuff. Does much of that go on in your world? It’s a no for you.

It’s not the biggest concern. Being on social media, people put anything and everything out on social media. You can look up the most innocent whatever you want and you can find anything. Yeah. It’s not being careful and as a kid, I did have Supernanny or something on my iPad, but even that didn’t stop it, though.

Is it the porn stuff or the sexual stuff you’re talking about?


Also, do the girls talk about anorexia sites?

All of that, but also getting even deeper, specifically now, is war stuff. People will put war cams out there and it’s like, “Why are you doing that?”

It just pops up. You’re not looking for it.

Sometimes, you do have to be looking for it, but sometimes, even if you talk about it, it listens and it’ll pop up. The worst thing, I think, is being unsupervised on social media. Bullying is not the biggest concern.

How about being pushed by people, probably mostly boys, to send nudes? Is that an issue in middle school?

I’m sure it is.

Not for me personally, but I feel like for maybe other people. I don’t know if in middle school. I think in high school is when it gets to be more of an issue but I don’t talk to boys.

There was a conversation at one of the middle school weekends about being harassed in the hallways at school. That’s not the same as sending nudes or being asked to send nudes, but there’s a lot of energy and a lot of emotion around the pressure, even in the hallways at school. Having brushed up against or having your butts pinched and things of that sort. Is that still on your radars?

There's much energy and emotion around the pressure, even in the hallways of the school. Click To Tweet

Not in sixth grade. I experienced it more in elementary school because they were joking around and didn’t know how it was affecting people. I don’t know if this changes anything, but I do go to a small private school, so things like that happening, you hear about it and people get in trouble probably much easier than they would at a huge public school or just a huge school in general. I’ve never experienced it, but as you said, we’ve talked about it at camp. It’s a real fear in girls our age.

I also go to a very small private school. Even though I don’t think that as much is done about their jokes about rape and sexual assault, there isn’t a lot done about stuff that they say. However, if they ever do anything, it gets around fast, and we will force the teachers to do something about it. It’s not as big of an issue just because I think I do go to a smaller private school, but I’m not sure if that changes at public school.

Are you too worried about going to high school?


You’re in the same school, right?

Yeah, but at my school, high school and middle school are completely different. We are in the same building, but they have different directors and a different principal. I’m a little more fearful because they add l60 kids to your class. There are less people that you know and more people that you don’t. You don’t know what people will do. I think just being a high school girl is frightening in that sense.

Which sense?

You don’t know if people are going to do things like touch you in ways that you wouldn’t appreciate. They have consent classes. You can take a class about consent at my school.

Is that a whole semester class?

I think it’s half a semester.

It’s good because it’s educating people, especially boys.

However, that’s even scary. The thought of needing a half-course consent class is like, “What are we doing?” It’s because for me, and I assume for both of you, it’s common sense not to do any of that.

What kind of high school are you going to next year?

I’m going to a public school.

What are your feelings about that?

To be honest, I don’t know. I do not talk to guys at all if I don’t have to. I don’t enjoy being around them, to be honest. All my friends are girls. I haven’t thought about it a ton, to be honest. It’s something that’s always on every girl’s mind. It’s something that we’re forced to be aware of no matter what and wherever we are.

It stinks, doesn’t it?


It’s like, “Should we have to be worried about this?” There’s some reality, too. You need to think about it and be prepared, but as a 14-year-old or 15-year-old girl, it seems like that should not be high on the list of things to worry about. You guys are doing great, by the way. The last thing is, do you have any advice for parents of middle school girls based on what you’ve experienced in your years up until now? Is there anything you feel like they would need to know if they have a middle school daughter?

How To Support Middle School Girls

If the conversations bring it up or you feel like they don’t want to be considered wrong and they want you to listen, you should just listen because it’s a big part. If you’re like, “I just want to talk to you. I’m not even trying to say you’re wrong or anything. I just want you to know how I’m feeling.”

How about you two?

Just be a comfortable, safe space for your kids, non-judgmental, and make sure that your kids feel completely safe and comfortable talking to you about whatever. Be a non-judgmental listener.

Make sure your kids feel safe and comfortable talking to you about whatever, and be a listener. Click To Tweet

I’d say to just remember that this is like their life. They have no other experience than what they’ve already been through. These problems that might seem childish and silly are real problems that we have to deal with. Also, just keep in mind that all we know is this type of childish, silly argument and drama. I am assuming that this is bugging you. This is the biggest problem for us right now and understanding that it’s real in a sense.

I was surprised when we started. You both said something to the effect of I feel so stupid or childish that I’ve been worried about all this stuff. I was thinking, “That’s a pretty harsh judgment on yourself. I’ve been worried about all these things. What else do I know?” I’m 50 years old, looking back. I’m still in the middle of it.

I hate for you guys to not have that level of self-compassion where you understand I’m going through it and it’s not always pretty, but I think there’s some value to thinking like you did, which is that it will pass. People get through it. Yes, that’s true. I still want you to hear me. Also, walk around in my shoes for a moment and see it from my point of view just so I know that you know. I know you see me, you hear me, and you get it.

Thank you guys so much. I appreciate your time, and I hope this has been valuable for your parents. This might be an interesting episode to read with your daughter, who’s in middle school, to raise conversations about things. It may spur a conversation about what your daughter needs from you, more or less. Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

You’re welcome.

I picked three girls who are mature and deep, as you can tell. I’m appreciative of what they have shared with you guys. I would take that seriously. They’re not your daughters and they may be your daughters in a lot of different ways. I think that listening piece is so important. I have so many girls who tell me that, number one, their parents aren’t oftentimes available to listen because they’re so distracted. Parents are busy. Parents are working. Parents are working at home. Parents are constantly looking at their phones, and they scroll all the time.

A lot of times, girls feel like their parents are distracted and aren’t available. When they are, their parents sometimes are crabby and short. They are sometimes judgmental. Sometimes, they make it about them and sometimes, they go right into fix-it mode. I would do your own little personal listening one-on-one course and the best way to get that course is to ask your daughter, “What do you need from me? Is there anything I’m doing that feels supportive that you want me to continue? Is there anything you want me to do differently, especially when it comes to listening?”

Also, give your daughters permission to preface conversations with, “This is one of those times that I want you to just listen.” If there’s any point in the middle of the conversation where I feel like you’re interrupting or not listening, can you give me permission to be able to say, “This is one of those times when I just want you to hear me?” I would give your daughters that permission. I’ll be back here next time with a brand-new episode. As always, I appreciate you stopping by. Share this one with your friends. Thanks so much for stopping by.


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