In the last three decades, there has been a movement to empower young women under the theme of “Girl Power!” Unifying girls and women together has inspired great energy in our country and even our world. In speaking to my three-year-old daughter, she is learning that being a girl is “special.” She will soon embark on a journey to learn about the inspiring and life-long connections girls have with one another.
Yes, my daughter has a little brother and she’s “pointing out” all the differences between them. In a matter of time, she will experience the joys of having another person who isn’t different, but just the same. There will be an instant excitement in the claiming of a new friend who may like to wear hats and collect shoes, or share an interest in dancing, singing, or the color purple, and, to top it off, loves horses. Where does it really end? Will they stand up against a bully, go “gaga” over the new boy band or, across many sleepless nights, plan to change the world? Wow, this is just the tip of the “girl power” mountain!
Having a best friend in childhood has its ups and downs. I know my dear daughter and I will have many conversations about the rules of friendship. I will try not to roll my eyes or suppress a smile when she reveals a fantastic, dramatic presentation of why the world is indeed over. Quite innocently, she will have entrusted her girlfriend with her thoughts, and expanded her own understanding by having a best friend who has different dreams. They will both publicly and quietly display great differences as a means to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and find a thousand ways to say “I am sorry!” or“I support you!” Your childhood girlfriend is a person who remembers you before the social, awkward years take over.
As a parent, I am hopeful my daughter’s girlfriends will live relatively close, or go to her new school. Girlfriends in youth need time to develop. For my adventurous and determined daughter, I hope her best friend has a strong, rational mind and a tell-it-like-it-is spirit. Through practicing friendship, she will learn to compromise, talk through challenges, and always support new endeavors, especially when a first boyfriend enters the picture. Do not worry, dear daughter, it is part of the preparation for adulthood. By the time she graduates from high school, she may have gained and lost many girlfriends. I cannot promise that each one will follow her throughout her adult life. Some may have trouble communicating, because their lives will become unknowingly busy. Due to the diversity of her girlfriends, I know she will grow as an individual and be truly blessed if a few from childhood continue to be part of her journey through life.
In friendships beyond high school, college and her career, she may discover that the connection that bonded them together may take some effort to resume. Life will guide her in surprising directions. In time, she may realize that discussing marriage and children, aging parents and juggling a career has given her understanding, sympathy, and laughter, too. It is okay if you talk a few times during the year. Long-time friends always understand. There will be other girlfriends along her journey. Some may be younger, while some may be older. Age doesn’t define a great friend, just the ability to continue communicating.
No matter how old you get, it is still exciting to meet a new girlfriend. In her lifetime, a girlfriend will be a treasure to laugh together with, share stories of the past and present with, and support as the years become decades.
Yes, my dear daughter, the best-kept secret is discovering that those wonderful friends you met in childhood often want to continue being your friend. While a husband will become your best friend, you will always have time to converse with other women—it‘s important. No surprise—that girl who was shockingly funny or brought out the best in you over the years will be exactly the same decades later. And you, dear daughter, will be empowered by the simple act of being someone’s best friend and girlfriend. Having wanted to change the world, you will have achieved that through friendship.