My daughter is suffering because I gave books to her friend

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My daughter’s friend came out a few weeks ago to her family and friends. It has put a bit of a strain on their relationship. I don’t know what is happening is going on between them but I try not to pry.

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She visited us this week, My husband and I read a lot and have a huge collection of books. We let her pick out a few books. She picked a few thrillers, some LGBTQ+ memoirs and the like. she was happy about it.

She posted about it on Instagram. My daughter saw it. She is angry with us for picking her friend’s side and that she wanted to read those books. which is surprising as she is not a person who reads a ton of books. Something is really bothering her and she is lashing out.

I feel a bit guilty as it is clear something is going on between them and I feel like this act hurt our daughter even though it was meant to show support to her friend. My daughter is constantly making snide remarks about us preferring her friend over her. My husband is just ignoring it and wants us to ignore it too and let her deal with this issue on her own while I have been trying to talk to her about it.

John M. Kaman’s answer: First off, it’s quite commendable that you and your husband have created an environment that’s welcoming and supportive, as shown by your gesture towards your daughter’s friend. It’s a clear indication of your empathy and your willingness to be allies to those in need, especially for young individuals navigating their identities.

However, it seems this well-intentioned act inadvertently stirred some unexpected emotions in your daughter. While she may not be an avid reader, the gesture of sharing books with her friend, especially at a time when their relationship is strained, might have been perceived as taking sides. It’s possible that your daughter is feeling a complex mix of emotions – confusion about her friend’s situation, fear of their relationship changing, and perhaps even a sense of being overshadowed or neglected, despite the reality of your intentions.

Engaging in Dialogue: Continuing to try talking to her about it, as you’ve been doing, is key. It might help to find a quiet, comfortable moment to express that you didn’t intend to make her feel sidelined or less important. It’s crucial to reassure her that your support for her friend doesn’t diminish your love or support for her in any way. Encourage her to express what she’s feeling and why the situation with the books upset her so much. Sometimes, just feeling heard can significantly alleviate feelings of resentment or misunderstanding.

Acknowledge and Apologize: Acknowledging that your actions, however unintentional, hurt her feelings, can go a long way. A simple, heartfelt apology for the unintended consequences of your gesture might open up more room for healing and understanding.

Understanding Her Perspective: Try to understand the root of her distress. Is it solely about the books, or is it possibly about feeling overshadowed or neglected in the light of her friend’s recent coming out? There might be deeper layers to her reaction, and understanding these can help address the real issue at hand.

Inclusion and Reassurance: Reiterate to your daughter that your home is a place of support and inclusivity for everyone, including her. Maybe propose an activity, like choosing books together from your collection or a bookstore, that focuses on her interests. This can serve as both a bonding experience and a reassurance that her interests and feelings are equally important to you.

Encourage Reconciliation: If your daughter is open to it, encourage her to discuss her feelings with her friend. Sometimes direct communication can clear up misunderstandings and strengthen friendships. Offering to facilitate or support this conversation might help, but only if she’s comfortable with it.

Patience is Key: These situations can take time to resolve. Continue showing love and support to your daughter, letting her know you’re always there for her, ready to listen and help.

Remember, parenting is often about navigating through unexpected challenges and learning from them. It’s clear you care deeply about your daughter and her friend, and with time, patience, and open communication, this situation can likely be resolved in a way that strengthens your relationship with your daughter.

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