The Girls. The Bad and The Ugly. (When Friendships Go Wrong)

I knew it would happen at some point. The idyllic little bubble of 12 year-old friendships: sleepovers, crushes, instagram, movies. It doesn’t last forever.

Friendships don’t (always) last forever.

I know that.

I’ve lived that.

I expect that.

Being on the lookout for it doesn’t make it any easier to watch my own 12 year-old go through it.

To watch her walk into school, having planned to have a bunch of girlfriends spend the night, only to find out three of them are lying to her and planning their own sleepover.

Without her.

And trying to get the others to join them and leave her behind.

And they’ve made sure everyone knows.

Except her.

Oh, in the texts between them it’s all, “Love ya girl!” “Yeah, see ya there!” and “Can’t wait!” Until it’s not.

Then it’s, “Wait, what?” and “I don’t know” “Maybe” and “My mom said I can’t.”

It’s lying and cover-ups and laughing behind her back.

It’s lying to her face and lying to their parents.

It’s mean texts now and “It’s your fault, not ours.” It’s ganging up on her and telling others she’s saying things she’s not. It’s actively trying to get others mad at her and to bully her.

She’s running a constant defense against an onslaught of mean.

From three people she thought were her friends. Good friends.

One of the girls has been her best friend for almost two years. They spent practically every weekend together. We considered her a part of our family.

And it’s her betrayal, her active participation in and her instigation of (some of) this meanness that is the most stunning and the most hurtful.

I’ve read all the texts, I know what’s been said, and what’s being lied about.

I’ve seen the instagram posts and the ooVoo chats.

I’ve talked to some of the parents. I can’t make someone believe me when their daughter says it’s not true.

But it is, because I’ve been watching it happen. And I’ve been reading the messages to my daughter.

I want to fight back and force the parents to read all of the messages and look at what their daughters are doing.

I want to stop this meanness.

I want all of it to stop.

I want to protect my daughter.

“Be honest. Be yourself. Surround yourself with the other friendships you have.” “You are worthwhile. You are a good friend. You are better than this. You are more than this.”

I talk to her and I listen to her. I hug her when she cries and I tell her this won’t last forever.

I also tell her things will be different and situations like this will make her stronger and help her know what true friendship is.

She is strong and joyful. She is handling this better than I am.

The attacks are lessening as she doesn’t fight back and doesn’t give them ammunition.

She is finding comfort at home and with her other friends.

Her only tears now are when she says, “But I really liked being her friend.” Because she knows it’s over, even if she never really understands why.

The Girls The Bad and The Ugly




  1. My heart aches for both of you. I was that girl, surrounded by mean girls, and my mom was always there waiting for me at the end of the day when I would collapse into tears. I’m so grateful there was no FB or texting or Instagram! I’m also grateful I have only sons.
    You’re telling her all the right things! Keep doing what you’re doing and let her know it WILL be better and it she IS worth it. Good luck and keep her head up. It’s a tough transition to becoming a woman but it’s worth it.

    • Thanks Allie, you are absolutely right. I was always afraid of having a daughter and situations like this are only one of the reasons why. I know she will be stronger because of it, I however, may need some medication. 🙂

  2. Ugh. Been there and not looking forward to going through it again in 6 years. Sorry this is going on but she is lucky to have a strong mom.

  3. It is hard to believe that she is 12! And I am just starting over, not looking forward to that. Tell Ella that people she doesn’t even remember care a lot about her and she is very special!!!!

    • Oh Flavia, luckily for you you’ve got some time before even having to consider any of this! I will give Ella the message and thank you for saying that about her! I miss you!

  4. Like others commented, I was definitely there as a young teen myself with something similar and totally worry about my girls growing up and stuff like this with girls they may think of as friends as the teen years approach. I wish I had words of wisdom here and all I can say is I am really so sorry that your daughter has been going through this and am with Tara she is so lucky to have you as her mom and in her corner.

    • Thank you Janine. I appreciate that and I hope you have many years without any of this nonsense. I went through it, too, but it is so much worse when your children go through it. I’ve been a nervous wreck all week.

  5. Oh that breaks my heart. Ella who is full of laughter and love, kindness and personality should not have to be going through this. unfortunately it seems to be a right of passage for girls but with FB , Instagram and technology today it is much more prevelant. Tell her she can come over and cuddle with ROry any time she wants!

  6. Love that girl’s ability to handle adversity! She’ll come out of this stronger,yet the process is pure parental torture! Hang in there.

  7. this is the second story I have heard this weekend about girls being mean to a friend and talking behind her back. It has always happened I guess but somehow social media makes it so much worse. The words are there to be reread and it hurts again ever time. We want so bad to protect our children from these situations but our job is often to guide them through them.

    • But I don’t want to be a guide!! lol. I know Ella isn’t alone, I knew it in my heart but based on the messages I’ve received here and privately, this is a huge problem and I was fairly unaware. Now, what to do about it?

  8. Everything about this breaks my heart! Stephanie she will come out of this stronger and better. I was blown away when I heard of this situation. I know those girls are regretting what they did because they are missing out on being friends with one awesome girl. Similar situation happened to Sheah in 6th grade and she has never been the same with friendships. It is sad and breaks my heart daily but she prefers not to have close friendships. Hugs to you both!!

    • When I see Sheah or talk to you I think what a great girl. So strong, so talented. I would never have thought this would happen to her. Unfortunately, things like this do change you. They leave a mark that really doesn’t ever go away. I’m sorry you’ve gone through this with her, thank you for reaching out.

  9. Ella is one of the happiest people that I know. She is sweet and kind and thoughtful and easy going. She’s good at just about everything she does, but you’d have to watch her to know it because she doesn’t brag about it. She’s grown up with two brothers who share similar qualities, so for her, it’s just the way life is. Unfortunately, that can make you a target for people who aren’t as happy with themselves. It’s a sad lesson to learn at her age. It’s sad at any age,but it does make you stronger and the next time it happens she’ll handle it a little bit differently, and a little better and know that you are defined by who you are and what you do. Not by what others try to convince people of, because all of that goes away eventually. Even the people who get caught up in it will begin to question why they did. Let your light shine Ella! Miserable people will continue to be that way long after you’ve moved on to bigger and better things. Love ya girl! (And I mean it;)

  10. Happened to my girls so much that they don’t really trust girls in their school. One even had her cell phone stolen by a “friend” who then pretended to be her. They are seniors now and cannot wait to get out and go to college.

    • You are not the first person who has mentioned not trusting the other girls, and it speaks volumes. It’s sad that the little time we have with our kids (through middle and high school) that we have to spend one second on any of this nonsense and assuring them that it’s a big world out there and it gets better. It’s a lesson, sure, but wouldn’t it be great if no one ever had to go through it?

  11. Oh man!!! Hate this for both of you. Let me start by saying – isn’t she 2? Has it really been that long??? OK I digress, like the others, I was ‘that’ girl. I was betrayed but in the end became friends with most of the kids (both girls & boys) in the grade above me and remain good friends with all of them to this day. If she is ANYTHING like her mother, she too will prevail and be awesome. How can she be anything other than that with such a great role model. Continue the open conversation and lots of hugs!

    • You are funny, it doesn’t feel like it could be 14 years since we moved from Charlotte thats for sure. I have to say that I am amazed at the number of my friends and people I absolutely love (you are included in that) who have been through this either themselves or with their daughter. It’s heartbreaking. As an adult I can see (and I know) she will get past this. As a former 12yo girl, my heart hurts. Thanks for the kind words Amy!

  12. Lorrie (Hooper) Hatley

    Brings back horrible memories for me. I was the girl who held the sleepover. Out of 4 girls invited only 2 stayed. One because she was truly my friend – The other? Because her mother made her stay! When you are 6-10 everyone is your friend. But from 11 on up, when you show friendship and concern for those girls who were never “a part” of your group, that’s when the cold shouldering begins. I’m glad I was true to myself. I have nothing to look back on and feel ashamed of. And I’m sure those “other” girls (that I wanted to continue to be a part of their group) don’t even realize how much they hurt my feelings. Oh well. I’m glad I grew up and got over it. I wouldn’t go back to that age for a million dollars!! I’m sure you’re a great Mom and she’s lucky to have you to love her care enough to be involved with her day to day trials (And joys)!!

    • This story made me so sad, Lorrie. I’ve heard from so many people about their own experiences and each and every one ends with I was stronger and I’m better for it but that certainly doesn’t erase the heartache that all of us have felt. I love your statement “I have nothing…to feel ashamed of.” That’s perfect.

  13. Hearing this breaks my heart. These days with technology you can’t get a break from the bad and the ugly. Fortunately you and your daughter have people who love you and are there for you through it all. I hope writing about it helped you work through this tough time.
    Cheryl Xxxooo

    • Thanks Cheryl. I know you’ve dealt with enough of this as well. I learned a lot from you and your perspective (which is much less angry and revenge-driven than mine! lol)

  14. This makes me sick to my stomach, too, and there is only so much protecting we can do of our children. You keep doing the loving job you’re doing with Ella; she will grow up strong and secure. The other girls, well, I believe when there is a meanness in a child, it comes from somewhere, and it’s usually traceable to the parents–whether it’s because they tolerate poor behavior, cause their children to feel entitled, or simply because they, too, make bad choices first and set the example. Just keep doing what you’re doing, Stephanie; you’re one of the good ones. And so is Ella.

  15. Steph, I can’t tell you enough how bad this made me feel when I read it. You know, that kind of sick to your stomach, hurt feeling nevers goes away for your children no matter how big or old they get. My heart breaks for you and how you must be feeling now for your love for Ella and what she is experiencing. I’ve watched her grow up and she is such a beautiful, amazing, gifted, and compassionate little girl. God has blessed her with so many different qualities that will make her an amazing adult who will succeed in life. And this experience will also help to make her a better person.

    Ella has always watched out for the little ones and the animals and they have always loved her. She has a good heart and you can’t teach that to anyone, it comes from within. You know that you go thru your life and make many acquaintances but have very few friends. I watched both you and Tisha experience that as you grew up and it was so painful to watch. Tisha has gone thru some hurts of her own in the past couple of years and she and her children are becoming stronger because of it and they are making it. Ella will too. She is special and it is their loss for not seeing it.

    It is very few children who are watching out for someone who is left out and tries to include them. Ella has that in her character. She is a lovely young girl who can mix with the young and who can carry on conversations with adults. This bad experience she is going thru will only make her a stronger, better and more compassionate person.

    I love you both and hope that Ella will find a true friend who will accept her for her and not play these mean spirited social games with her. You seem to have found some real friends Steph in your life now and that is my hope for Ella.

    • I remember you going through this with me. It was awful then and even worse now. We didn’t have a very good connection the other night when we talked because I was going to tell you about it then. This, I’m sure, was an awful surprise to read about. She’s upbeat though and managing pretty well. It’s me who is going a bit crazy 🙂

  16. I’m so sorry to hear of this Stephanie. Unfortunately, she is not alone. We too have experienced the turmoil that can arise from would be friends. It is so devastating when you try and instill and inspire all the right tools for your children to grow up and be happy, strong young girls. There have been many text photos and school/parent calls to rectify situations. I always love hearing ‘not my child’ and then providing the photo of the text. Really puts things in perspective. In then end, our girls will be stronger, and know how to deal with adversity. A life lesson taught MUCH too early. Again, I am so sorry to hear. Keep smiling, supporting, loving. She WILL come out on top!

    • Yep, I’m building up quite a little store of screen shots for when the school does end up being more involved. I’m sorry you’ve gone through this too and I appreciate your messages.

  17. This is AWFUL! I mean, why are girls so mean? I’m surprised the parents don’t believe you if you have proof in texts. At any rate, she will get through this and tomorrow is a new day. I just am terrified of this happening to one of our girls. I’m so sorry!

    • Kristen, I have to think they haven’t checked their own kids phones and I haven’t shown them what I’ve seen on my daughters (I stalk my kids phones like it’s my job, because it is.) It was a phone and email conversation between me and one of the moms, which both went well but ended with “my daughter has a different story and she apologized.” Which is when I wanted to take screenshots and send them to her showing exactly what her daughter said (which wasn’t an apology) but I didn’t. The dad I spoke with was, weirdly, calm, understanding and knew all about it. He apologized and said he knew his daughter was being a bully and also that he would talk with her again. It is awful and I hope you don’t have to go through it, the anger, frustration and sadness take a lot out of you.

  18. Ugh… I hated all of this. I have two girls, one a young adult and the other a senior in HS. The funny thing is, sometimes THEY move on and I’m still stuck with the bad feelings. It’s been a lesson to me.

  19. Makes me sick. My sister had her so-called friends turn against her, one by one, when she was about 11 or 12. It made my mom sick then. There’s only so much she could do, although she wanted to do so much. What’s funny is that all of these girls were at my sister’s wedding in October. Bygones were bygones. I wonder if I could be that forgiving, but it is legit. I mean, they all made up in middle school and have been friends since.
    I know it’s not always so cut and dry.
    I see this one little girl in KINDERGARTEN behaving like this already. How bad will it be? Will my daughter be caught in the crossfire one day?
    I get so scared.

    • I don’t know if I have the forgiveness in me. I really don’t. I will have a very hard time when she comes home and talks about one of them in a friendly way. My mom still struggles a bit with some of the people I’ve become friends with after the fact, now I get where she’s coming from.

  20. stephanie-I’m brought back to many moments of my girls lives… Girls are mean-I agree! My best advice is to empower your daughter… The day will come when she is going to want to be friends again and has been said before -you will be horrified… I know this isn’t the make a difference answer but I’ve done both and getting involved causes more heartache to your child in the long run – hug her, talk with her but teach her to stand tall

    • Thanks Melissa, we are doing lots of talking and I’m letting her read the comments. We both have been amazed at the people who have been in similar situations. Girls we’ve known for years, athletes, dancers, smart, fun and beautiful girls – who have all come through it and are thriving. I think that has been a great source of comfort for her. You are right. I will be horrified so I’m trying to temper my negative with humor and understanding so she feels better about making her own choices and knows I will support her no matter what.

  21. My heart is broken!!Ella is a beautiful, fun loving, caring girl. She has GREAT parents and family. She will rise above this ugliness!! Tell her Mrs. Beebe will take care of them!!

  22. Sorry to hear your daughter went through such a hard time. We have been there and it just plain sucks. I have no doubt with your love and support, she will be just fine. It sounds like she is already dealing with it well. Although I am NOT a fan of Dr. Phil, I do love a saying of his: “we teach people how to treat us.” She won’t put up with this crap and neither will mama!! Xoxo

  23. Such a hard thing to go through. And even harder to watch your own daughter go through it. It breaks my heart to see girls fight like this. We should build each other up. I have no doubt she will be stronger for it, but it is still hard to endure.

  24. Ugh – this sucks. I’m so sorry, Steph – for you and your daughter. Sometimes it’s harder to get over when it’s not you, but someone you love. My sister has a friend who she reconciled with, but I still hate to be around her. I’m adult about it, but inside I’m holding a grudge.

    • That made me laugh. My mom still holds grudges against a couple of my “friends” and I don’t see me getting over this any time soon. I realize at some point she may be friendly with all or some of them again but I doubt I’ll be able to let go or trust any of them.

  25. Ugh! That poor sweet kid. I am sorry. I am guessing these are your friends too, because so much of the time, we’re all so entwined. It must be so frustrating for you to watch her have to go through this. Just keep telling her it doesn’t last forever, and those kind of “friends” aren’t worth it. Not that that is easy for a 12 year old to understand…but she will someday. 🙁

  26. This is why I always trusted my guy friends more than the girls. (In fact, to a certain extent, that’s still the case.)
    Something so similar happened to my daughter, who is now 20. I’d like to say that she emerged “stronger and better for it.” But she went from being incredibly gregarious as a child, to a very cautious young adult. It takes a long time for her to get close to someone new. That has its advantages, but also its lonely times. As mom, it still hurts a little.
    Wishing you and your daughter joy!

    • I hate to hear that your daughter went through this and I’m sorry she did. Interestingly enough, I’m in the process of sharing/writing my story, how it changed me and how I approach friendships since. I don’t think it can’t change you. Thank you for your kind words, I’m sure I’m always going to feel a little hurt as well.

  27. Oh Stephanie!! What a CRUSHING experience for your daughter to go through, and YOU. I absolutely loathe those years, of such twisted social circles and lies and horrible injustice. I’m SO sorry your girl has to be one of the victims…


    I’m so proud of how she is handling it all. And I’m so proud of you for loving her through it. Oh, how painful it must be.

    Breaks my HEART.

    • Thank you Chris! It’s now been almost 2 months of this nonsense, I think it’s finally starting to die down a little but it took talking to an attorney and the principal to do so. Very sad.

  28. Stephanie!!! We are going through the exact same thing only this is the second round at 13. Last year, she lost all of her best friends. We made it through and she made new friends. I thought good friends but it never ends. It’s happening again. So many tears. (P.S. I was just going to write a post about this same subject)

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