Across the country, millions of kids are heading back to school. Gone are the lazy days of summer, replaced by the march back to classes, teachers, homework, band, athletics, friends and…frenemies? Unfortunately, yes.
Never heard of a frenemy? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online defines a frenemy as “one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy.” It sounds like another “sign of the times” word to describe our changing world, but in fact, the word can be found in print as far back as 1953. Whether or not you’ve heard of it though, if you or your child has experienced a frenemy, you understand the painful (and emotional) situation it can create.
The path for kids to form friendships is a growing process. As each person begins to build trust in the other, an openness and kindness grow, and through that process, so does the friendship. Now consider the amount of time and emotion spent building a friendship, only to have the “friend” you’ve become close with, turn on you. What it creates is the potential for a very painful situation.
The affect of frenemies on mental health is not good – regardless of your age. But for a child contending with a frenemy, the impact can be even more severe, including anxiety and low self esteem, which can in turn begin to affect family relationships.
Do you know or have a child with a frenemy? This resource from Australia provides helpful information for dealing with frenemies and toxic relationships. The more you know about what your child is experiencing, the better prepared you can be to guide them through it, and cushion the affect on their mental health.