Teen Girls and Friendship Drama

by | Apr 21, 2023 | Friendships, Navigating Relationships, Understanding Her World | 0 comments

Hey there fellow Gen X moms, let’s talk about our teenage daughters and friendship drama.

The topic of friendship drama and the impact it can have on our daughters comes up a lot.

First of all friendship drama among teen girls is not something new.

We experienced friendship drama’s when we were teens. I can remember jealousies, nasty little notes and the popular crowds. When I was 13, a friend I had known since grade 2 slapped me in the face because I ‘stole her friend’. Ugh, the drama!

I betcha we all remember the heartache and hurt we felt when a friend turned on you or the popular girl pretended you didn’t exist. Or maybe we were part of the  in-crowd and not standing up for someone, too scared to be kicked out too.

These same dynamics still exist for our girls. The same bitchiness, cliques, mean-girls, gossiping and backstabbing.

Girls can be really mean. Especially between the ages of 9 and 14 girl friendships can be a minefield.

Teen girls vs teen boys

You don’t see this type of meanness between boys.

That’s not to say teen boys don’t experience meanness. Teen boys can be real jerks sometimes, with popularity often determined by athletic prowess or a good sense of humor. We have generation Z to thank for challenging these gender roles but we still have a long way to go. 

In general we still socialize our girls to value relationships and communication more than boys. And it impacts the way that girls and boys approach their friendships and the types of communication skills that they develop.

The fact of the matter is that teen girls engage in more complex forms of communication than boys. Generally speaking of course.

Not to brag boys, but while you’re still drawing stick figures, we’ve already developed the ability to convey a wide range of emotions through eye-rolls and exaggerated sighs.

Girls are basically Jedi masters of communication. We teach them to read between the lines, pick up on subtle cues, and use their emotional intelligence to navigate the drama-filled swamp of social connections.

Have you ever observed a group of teenage girls chatting and laughing together?

It’s like watching a master class in subtle communication.

Teen girls just seem to know what each other are thinking, even without saying anything. It’s like they have this secret code that only they understand. They pick up on the littlest things, like a tiny smirk or an eye roll, and they react accordingly. They don’t need to say anything out loud because they use their tone and body language to let each other know what’s up. Just a simple eye roll or a sassy head tilt can say so much more than words ever could.

So yeah, when it comes to communication skills, girls have got it all figured out. Boys, on the other hand… well, let’s just say they’ve still got some work to do.

The dark side of teen girl friendships

The knife cuts both ways though. Having more sophisticated communication skills and a deeper value for friendships comes with a dark side.

Because these friendships are so highly important for our girls, they’re also more sensitive to exclusion or betrayal.

And boy oh boy us girls can be bitches.

Girls use indirect forms of aggression, such as gossip or social manipulation, which can fuel drama and create tension within friend groups and can lead to heartbreak and isolation.

It’s the subtleness of their mean behavior that can cut like a knife. 

I’m sure we all recognize these.

  • The compliment that’s actually an insult:I love how you’re not afraid to wear bold makeup”. Or: “You have a really interesting personality, even though some people might find it annoying”. The backhanded compliment that make you feel self-conscious or insecure. It looks like they’re lifting you up but they’re actually dragging you down. Talk about a skillset.
  • The silent treatment: When your friend suddenly gives you the cold shoulder but you have no clue what you did wrong and she refuses to talk to you. Yes Gen Z, we know what ‘ghosting’ is.
  • The exclusion game: When you walk into school and suddenly everyone stops talking and you feel like you’re invisible? Or when you see your so-called friends making plans right in front of you but ‘forget’ to invite you? And then, to top it all off, you hear whispers and giggles when you walk by, and you know they’re spreading rumors about you. 
  • The “I’m fine” lie: When your friend is obviously mad at you, but when you ask her what’s wrong, she insists that everything is fine? And then, a few hours later, she starts making snarky comments and giving you the cold shoulder or lashing out in other passive-aggressive ways.
  • The betrayal: When you confide in your friend and you find out that she’s told others, breaking your trust and leaving you feeling vulnerable and exposed. 

We’ve all been there

Did these examples of bitchy behavior take you back to your teen years?

Are you thinking back to that time in middle school, when cried in the bathroom stall, because you just found out that beautiful, popular Jenny with the cute dimples and the straight teeth, has invited all your friends to her party except you? Or the time when you showed up in your new neon striped bikini at the pool, feeling confident and ready to strut your stuff, only to be met with snickers and sneers from the cool girls?

We’ve all been there. Some way more than others. But I think we all have memories of these type of situations. 

If you think back to those moments, I bet you can still remember the feeling. How a simple look or a word can crush your confidence and leave you feeling like you’re not good enough. It’s like being hit with a ton of bricks, and you’re left wondering what you did wrong.

I’m glad we graduated from that drama-filled school of teenagehood. We’ve grown.

These memories may even seem trivial or petty. Because we know now, even though it felt like such a personal attack at the time, it was not about you, but about them and their need to feel superior. We know that these feelings pass, that things will work out in the end. 

We’ve learned how to detect toxic people and how to be assertive. At least I truly hope we have.

Because our girls are not there yet.

They are smack in the middle of these complicated, overwhelming teen years. Navigating the same minefield of girl friendships.


New levels of drama for Gen Z teen girls

And I think it’s even more complicated for our girls in this digital age.

When we had our drama of the day at school, we could at least go home and disconnect from it all. No phones, no social media, no constant reminders of the drama.

We had the rest of the day and night to distract ourselves, take our mind of of it and process what happened. And when we all came back to school the next day, things would have cooled off or most of the kids would have forgotten about it.

But today, our girls are dealing with a whole different level of drama.

Look at any group of teenage girls together. Huddled around their phones, their eyes glued to the screens as they scroll through endless texts, DMs, and Snapchat stories. It’s like a never-ending soap opera, with new plot twists and betrayals every day. The boys chime in with snarky comments and memes. There are rumors flying left and right, and everyone seems to have their own version of the drama. The boys chime in with snarky comments and memes.

It’s like the generation Z version of Mean Girls, with social media as the main stage. One minute they’re in the group chat, and the next they’re being blocked and kicked out of the group for something they didn’t even do. And let’s not forget about the memes – they’re supposed to be funny, but sometimes they’re just plain cruel.

And the drama never stops. Even when they’re trying to relax and take a break, someone’s sending them a screenshot of a conversation that they weren’t even part of. And don’t even get me started on the FOMO – seeing everyone’s Instagram stories about the party you weren’t invited to can really mess with your head.

And let’s not forget the screenshots and videos of arguments, fights, and embarrassing moments that can go viral in a matter of seconds.

It can add a whole new level of bitchy behavior. Like posting passive-aggressive comments, sharing private conversations or screenshots with others or posting pictures or messages that are intended to make others feel left out or insecure. 

Girls can be mean on a good day, but on a screen, they can be downright vicious.

And the worst part is that it’s almost impossible for our daughters not to get caught up in the drama.

They’ll go over every detail of what was said and done, analyze every text, and rehash every argument, making themselves sick with worry and anxiety.

I think, most, if not all of the teen girls I coached, all say they tend to overthink and catastrophize for hours at the end of the day, when they lay in their bed.

How to support our girls through friendship drama’s

How can we support our girls?

Here are some tips on how to help her navigate the complexities of girl friendships. 

  1. First an foremost: Be the soft place to land.  Navigating friendship drama is exhausting and takes a lot of energy. Make sure your daughter knows she can come to you when things get tough. Let her know that you might not understand everything about her world but you do understand the twists and turns of girl friendships and that you’ll be there for her. Listen to her, validate her feelings, and ask questions to help her sort out her thoughts. Show her that you’re there to support her, no matter what.
  2. Have conversations about friendships. Don’t force the convo, but look for opportunities to bring it up. Maybe there’s a TV show or movie that deals with friendship in a relatable way. Or maybe she’s got a friend who’s going through something similar, and you can use that as a jumping-off point. The key here is to be open and approachable, and not come across as preachy or judgmental.
  3. Encourage different friend groups: This one’s all about diversifying your daughter’s social circle. Encourage her to join clubs or groups, or to hang out with different people outside of her usual friend group. Stay in touch with the cousins. Invite her volleybal friends over. This way, she’ll always have a drama-free crew she can turn to if things get rough.
  4. Keep an eye out: This one’s all about being observant. To try to get a sense of your daughter’s friendships and who she’s hanging out with. Not in a creepy kinda way and definitily still respecting her privacy. But there’s no law against offering to drive her and her friends places, and listening in on their conversations (of course pretending not to listen – humming is my secret weapon). It sometims proves to be a goldmine of information on what’s going on in her social circle. And please, don’t make the rookie mistake of asking your daughter about the juicy details you overheard when it’s just the two of you – you might as well have “uncool” stamped on your forehead. And if you ever get a chance to meet the other moms in your daughter’s circle, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. Don’t go blabbering about your daughter or spilling the beans on what you’ve uncovered. But you can definitely use this as an opportunity to gather intel and get a better sense of what’s happening in your daughter’s world.
  5. Set boundaries around phone use: It’s no secret that social media can be a breeding ground for drama. So make it a family habit to put the phones away during certain times of the day or week. Maybe it’s during dinner, or for an hour before bedtime. This way, your daughter can take a break from the constant chatter and focus on more important things, like spending time with her family or getting some much-needed rest.
  6. Teach her how to be assertive. This last one is the most important one. Knowing how to be assertive is a superpower! But it takes practice. Help your daughter learn how to stand up for herself without being disrespectful. Role-play different scenarios with her. It can be helpful to give her examples of times when you’ve had to assert yourself with friends or coworkers. The goal here is to help her find her voice, and to feel confident expressing her thoughts and feelings.

I hope this blog has given you some insight into Gen Z’s friendship drama’s.

And some useful ideas to help her navigate them.  And let’s not forget to share a few laughs and some good stories from our own teenage years. Because sometimes a little humor and perspective can go a long way.

PS#1 And not to be petty but, let’s be honest, those popular girls, especially Jenny with the straight teeth, are probably still wearing their tacky Juicy Couture tracksuits and peaked in high school, while we’ve moved on to bigger and better things.cool

PS#2: Just to be clear. I am not a hater of social media. At all. Social media and technology have also brought about many positive changes in teenage friendships. Our daughters can connect with friends from all over the world, find support groups for specific interests, and even create their own platforms for activism and change. I’ve seen the magic of that happening and fully support it.

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Hey there, I´m Marielle

As a parenting coach and life coach for teen girls, I have seen firsthand the impact that a strong mother-daughter bond can have. In my blog, I share my insights, experiences, and tips to help mothers create deeper connections with their daughters, navigate the difficult moments, and feel more confident in their parenting journey.



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