I must say that jealousy is one of the most toxic feeling states that there is. I work with teen girls and boys almost every day and I see how jealousy has a corrosive effect on the relationships between our teenage daughters.
Jealousy Versus Envy
First, let’s clarify the difference between envy and jealousy: When we are envious of someone it means that we covet or desire what they have. When we are jealous of someone we are afraid that they will replace us in a relationship. When we are envious we don’t necessarily bear anyone any ill will. When we are jealous we usually do harbor mean and/or spiteful feelings.
I get so disheartened in my role as a clinical psychologist when I hear teen girls getting jealous of one another. In my three decades of working with teens, I have seen many many girls express jealousy toward their female peers. They worry that their friends or boyfriends may start to like a female peer more than them. It is at that point that insecurity kicks in, gnaws away at good feelings, and spiteful and subtle bullying or rejection may begin.
It is my wish that teen girls become much more supportive of each other. I propose that parents take a much more active role in dealing with this issue so that jealousy does not play such a prominent role in our teen daughters’ relationships. There are many things that parents can do so that jealousy plays less of a role in their daughters’ relationships. It is always a shame when a teenage girl loses a good friend over a jealousy issue or over a boy; right?
Tips for Parents
1. Teach your daughters about the importance of friendships with same sex peers. Way too often I hear about teen girls who prefer to be friends with teen boys. They say that the boys are less “catty.” Ouch!
2. Be aware of what you are modeling as a mother. Are you modeling jealousy toward other women or compassion? Take stock because your daughters are watching you very closely. You are their most important role model.
3. Sometimes the friendship with the female friend is more important than the relationship with the boyfriend. There will likely be many boyfriends after high school but good friends may last a lifetime. Talk honestly and openly to your daughters about this very issue.
4. Raise your daughters to be self-confident. If a boy chooses someone over her, then so be it. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who has an eye for someone else, anyway?
5. Try to help your daughters realize that having a boyfriend is not the be all and end all of the teen years. Help them develop other passions and interests.
Please let me know how this goes for you. My goal, after all, is to help you raise teen daughters who turn into lovely women unencumbered by the negativity associated with jealousy. Jealousy can lead to both emotional and physical pain as well as destroyed friendships.
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