If you are a grown woman, what are some of the memories that come to mind if you are asked to share the experiences you had when you were seven or eight years old? Maybe you have only wonderful thoughts of giggling with friends, playing soccer or softball for your community league, and enjoying the wonderful teachers that stood in front of your classroom every morning. Unfortunately, it is more likely that some unpleasant scenes may come to the surface as well. Perhaps you were the one girl in class who was teased because you didn’t wear the right clothes or live in the right neighborhood. It could be that you were painfully shy and had difficulty making friends. Maybe you never pursued the activities that really interested you because someone told you that only boys should be engaged in such pastimes. The reality is that girls can have a difficult time in our society, and we need to find ways to offset the negative influences with positive ones.
It is normal for girls to form cliques and small bands of friends as they explore how to build relationships and determine where their personality fits into a group dynamic. However, these normal social developments also take place in situations that can become filled with gossip and power struggles. Experts have written numerous studies explaining why girls specifically tend to engage in this passive-aggressive behavior. A prevalent theory is that girls are supposed to be “nice” and “accommodating” and therefore not allowed to express their anger or disappointment in straightforward ways. So, the secret whispers and the sideways glances become the next best alternative for girls to vent their emotions.
Research also has shown that the ages of seven and eight, particularly for girls, mark a significant change in how friendship is viewed. Young girls just want to play with the person who is most convenient, so geography is a key factor. Around the third grade, however, girls start to place social importance on who they call their “best friend,” while boys usually avoid placing that “feminine” title on any one person in their circle. In other words, girls start to notice how their friends are viewed by peers and may avoid becoming too close to another girl who is not widely embraced by classmates. It is a sad fact that many girls face pressure to decide their close friendships not on shared interests or common experiences, but what is deemed acceptable by others.
So, how do we combat the social divisions that are happening in the lives of girls at such a young age? Two important priorities should be to provide them with examples of positive relationships and opportunities for discussions about friendship. A new book by young author Natalie Tinti offers the chance to do both. Sewing a Friendship tells the story of four young girlfriends, each of whom offers unique talents and strengths, and their encounter with a girl who uses abrasive behavior to hide her feelings of loneliness. Being a writer who is only ten years old herself, Natalie is able to develop relatable personalities and a storyline that is smart and age-appropriate. Girls will be excited to discuss the outcome of Sewing a Friendship with friends and parents, and important lessons about acceptance of others can be learned.
Sewing a Friendship can be purchased at Amazon.com or the Barnes and Noble website. To learn more about the author and her upcoming appearances, please visit her website http://www.tintinatie.com/index.php.