Enough Is Enough. Standing Up To The Frenemy At Last

Enough Is Enough.  Standing Up To The Frenemy At Last

Friendship upsets are all part of growing up but some can be more damaging than others.  Youngsters of all ages have minor disagreements, but the world of our tweens and teens is made more complex by the added dimension of controlling and manipulative behaviour, characteristic of the frenemy.

“How is it possible for someone you regard as a friend to simultaneously be your enemy?” My daughter has asked me this question on numerous occasions over the last year as she has continued to try and navigate a rather toxic friendship.

The behaviour of a frenemy is deceptive.  Driven by a need for control the frenemy is good at making you believe that you are friends but in actual fact mutual respect is absent and their acts of friendship superficial, as they mask their real intention which is to exert power over you.  Their game is played on a different level to the playground bully.  For them it is all about domination.

My daughter suffered at the hands of playground bullies during her final year at primary school.

She is by her own admittance “quriky”.  Typical “girly” stuff has never been top of her agenda.  Of course she cares about her appearance and rejoices in a girly shopping trip but not as much as she enjoys conversations about SIMS, Pokemon or Marvel.    Sci-Fi movies win over Disney any day of the week.  Jack Whitehall is her idol not Justin Bieber.

As a 10 year old girl these differences were regarded as odd by some other girls but the boys of course loved her for it.  Faced with a table of girls at lunch talking about the latest nail polish colour or a group of boys discussing the cosmic corners of the Marvel Universe the boys won every time, satisfying her inquiring mind.   As a result she had a lot of what we refer to as “friend boys”.

Unfortunately, there were some girls who spurred on by jealousy or confusion about their own identity, delighted in drawing attention to her differences, making catty comments and generally making her miserable.  It was a testing time.

Schools of course insist that they have a zero tolerance policy toward bullying.  But how easy  is it for them to pick up and what does zero tolerance mean exactly?  A watchful eye?  A warning?  How much do our children have to suffer until someone intervenes and says “Enough is Enough!”

During my parenting years I have learnt that there is an unspoken rule amongst children in the playground that you don’t snake, ie snitch.  To complain to a teacher about the way you are being treated by someone else is deemed weak, unacceptable and a sure fire guarantee that your life at school will be beyond miserable until the day you leave.

We considered talking to the parents outside of school, after all the primary school world is a small one, but we didn’t because both our son and our daughter insisted it would make the situation worse, so we bit our tongues and encouraged our daughter to turn the other cheek and rise above it, whilst her “real” friends built a protective wall around her.

With the advent of secondary school, we rejoiced, glad all that could be put behind us and she and we could move on.

The first year was bliss.  She moved to an all girl environment.  Admittedly we were unsure initially how this would work but it did.  We had never seen her so happy “at school”.  Then unfortunately along came the frenemy.

My daughter’s character shifted a gear. Naturally outgoing and vivacious she became more withdrawn and reclusive.  Her love of drama and hockey diminished.  Her interests changed.  She was at this girl’s beck and call, shunning her other friends to spend time with this girl who would then always let her down at the last moment.  She lost her joie de vivre.  It was quite simply soul destroying to watch and we felt powerless to stop it.

Then out of the blue there was a pivotal moment.  The frenemy called time on their friendship.  My daughter fell apart and we picked up the pieces whilst praying that would be it.  Then just as quickly the frenemy apologised but in such a way as to suggest my daughter was to blame.  Cautious now my daughter thankfully didn’t jump straight back in but some contact was resumed.   Frustrated perhaps by my daughter’s reluctance, a period of cyber bullying followed.  My daughter adhered to all the recommended guidelines and blocked her online but not before I had taken screen shots of the messages.   My patience had worn thin. I didn’t give a damn about the rules of the playground anymore.  Her welfare was my priority and I wanted my daughter back how she used to be.  I insisted she keep away from this girl or I would have to escalate the issue at school.

Of course to someone like the frenemy, being shunned was a dent to her ego and whilst my daughter has followed my advice and remained courteous whilst keeping her at arms length the frenemy has continued wherever possible to make hurtful comments, intimidate my daughter during class by sitting and just staring at her, or even interrupting her conversations.  Individually these are all little actions but collaboratively they are very undermining.

Then last week happened.  My daughter stood up to her.

The frenemy confronted my daughter accusing her of being immature for ignoring her.

“Do I need to remind you how you treated me last year? Do I? What is wrong with you? Your behaviour was not normal.  The way you treated me was wrong. Now leave me alone!”

I listened quietly when my daughter relayed the story of her response.  “Mum, I have never felt such rage.  I was so angry.  It came from the pit of my stomach.  I was shaking so much afterwards.  I am sorry.”

Sometimes, just sometimes, sitting quietly, turning the other cheek and saying nothing is not enough.  My daughter has endured more than her fair share of upset at the hands of others and this time she had had enough.  She fought back all by herself and I am proud of her for that.  There was  no need for her to apologise to me.  There is a time in everyone’s life when it is time to stand up to your enemies and last week was the right time for my daughter to do just that too.

As a parent would I do things differently if I had the time again?  Probably not. I am pleased that my teens discuss issues openly with us otherwise I think this scenario could have been so much worse, but in terms of stepping in I had to respect my daughter’s wishes.  She was the one dealing with the situation day in, day out and it had to be her call. In the end though the frenemy was shown up for what she really was, as are all bullies.  As for our tweens and teens they need to be encouraged to speak up and put a stop to bullying once and for all.


Have you had any similar experiences as a parent?  How did you cope with them?  If you are a teacher I would love to hear your perspective.







  1. July 15, 2017 / 3:39 am

    Sounds like your daughter handled the situation well. I have two daughters-one is 16 and the other is 9. I know all about frenemies and its tough. It can be heartbreaking. I had them when I was in school and it seems like thats what I remember more than anything. The Mean Girls that were my BFF’s one day and shunned me the next. Stopped inviting me to outings, parties, etc. I suppose this experience makes you more resilient in the long run-but that doesn’t change how much it hurts. I think standing by your daughter is the best way to handle it.


    • Jo
      October 16, 2017 / 10:47 am

      Heather it seems these kind of issues will never go away and it is particularly worse with girls. My son always says to my daughter that if he and his mates disagree it is over and done with in 24 hours whereas with girls it can become really cruel and vindictive. My daughter is so much stronger now than before, so from that point of view I am pleased that she went through this and has come out the other side relatively unscathed. #coolmumclub

  2. July 9, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    You should be so proud of your daughter. She stood up for herself with outside stooping to the bullies level. Something that is so hard to do. I always think that the mental and emotional bullying of girl’s is worse than the physical bullying of boys. I really hope that your daughter is much happier now and that she gets her joie de vivre back. Hugs Lucy xxxx #PostsFromTheHeart

    • Jo
      July 12, 2017 / 9:28 am

      Oh thank you Lucy for your lovely comment. You are right the emotional element of bullying is far more difficult to deal with. As for my daughter it is like a cloud has been lifted. #PostsFromTheHeart

  3. Mummy Times Two
    July 9, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    Sending so much love. As a teacher I am so sorry that you and your daughter had to go through this. I think small schools on the whole are good at spotting changes in their pupils, largest ones definitely less so. I really hope things start to improve for her #PostsFromTheHeart

    • Jo
      October 16, 2017 / 10:49 am

      I think you are right. It is so much harder at secondary school for teachers to keep on top of these issues but there again there is the mindset that the girls should be able to sort this out between them. It is all part of the rich tapestry of growing up! #postsfromtheheart

  4. July 8, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    Reading this got me feeling rather wound up that someone should think they could hold power over another. #coolmumclub

    • Jo
      October 16, 2017 / 10:51 am

      Yes it annoyed me that my daughter was so easily manipulated but in hindsight from such a low point she could only get stronger. #coolmumclub

  5. July 6, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    Oh my goodness reading this just scares the living daylights out of me for what the years ahead have in store. Girls can be quite vicious and I can only imagine how heartbreaking i must be watching this going on from the sidelines. Good for you – it sounds like your open communication and support got her through it, you must feel very proud of her in the end.
    Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub

    • Jo
      July 7, 2017 / 11:19 am

      You are right there is definitely something about girls together, boys are so much more black and white. I am proud and glad for her that she found the strength to deal with it by herself. #coolmumclub

  6. jodie filogomo
    July 6, 2017 / 1:55 pm

    There are times when being quiet is the right thing to do. But there are also times it’s good to stand up for yourself. It sounds like your daughter is quite grown up already!

    • Jo
      July 7, 2017 / 11:17 am

      She does have a wise head on her shoulders, but episodes like this also make them grow up quickly too. Thanks for your comment. #ablogginggoodtime

  7. Natasha
    July 5, 2017 / 6:23 pm

    Such a huge step your daughter has taken, I am so happy she found the confidence to do so. You must be so proud of her. My eldest is off to High School in September and your post is really helpful. #PostsFromThe Heart

    • Jo
      July 7, 2017 / 11:15 am

      She took a while but she got there in the end. Good luck to your daughter. Such an exciting time moving onto secondary school. Thanks for commenting. #PostsFromTheHeart

  8. July 3, 2017 / 1:00 pm

    So much admiration for your daughter as you know, Jo. And she got there because the time was right for her. I feel for you having to have watched this all play out but it’s with your love, support and guidance that she found her own strength. Onwards and upwards for your little lady #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 8:44 pm

      Oh thank you Nicky, that means a lot. When you are in the thick of it, it is sometimes difficult to see the wood for the trees, but I hope she did feel supported and that she will benefit from the courage she showed in standing up to her. #TweensTeensBeyond

  9. July 1, 2017 / 1:36 pm

    Parents find it difficult when their child comes across this kind of situation. It is good that teens nowadays speak openly. Because it is the only way to know their troubles.

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 8:45 pm

      I agree. Speaking openly and discussing issues is so important in handling these situations.

  10. June 30, 2017 / 9:46 am

    Oh gosh you really do need a degree in psychology to deal with this sort of thing don’t you! You have done exactly the right thing here and I hope it will all settle down now. You’re daughter will be stronger and more resilient for having dealt with it so well. Love the new blog makeover by the way! #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 8:47 pm

      Yes Sharon I am sure she is walking a foot taller already for having finally stood up to her and spoken out. It took a while to get there but she made it in the end. Glad you like the makeover too! I feel I could do with one myself. #TweensTeensBeyond

  11. June 29, 2017 / 11:31 am

    What an impressive girl.We all know what it’s like when you just get to end of your patience. So hard as parents to know what to do in these kind of situations though. #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 9:25 pm

      Thanks Kelly. I hope that this now draws a line underneath it all and she and we can move on. #TweensTeensBeyond

  12. June 28, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    This post brought tears to my eyes. You must be very proud of your daughter, and also very relieved. Thank you for sharing so candidly. We had a similar situation with one of our teens’ girlfriends. Fortunately he was able to talk openly to me and eventually he too decided ‘enough was enough’. Unfortunately for the parent, this decision has to come from the child, as much as you want to charge in there and sort it out for them. No parent wants to see their child suffering like this, but as you say, the request for help has to come from the child. Hopefully your daughter’s confidence will continue to grow, and she will develop the skills needed to spot this kind of person in the future xx #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 9:28 pm

      Ah, bless you thank you for your lovely comments. If you have been there yourself, you will know only too well how tough it is to watch your child go through the turmoil of that kind of situation. It has been a year full of many ups and downs and I hope that now she has stood up to this girl she can move on with confidence. I am glad that your son has also seen the light so to speak and has to been able to move on. #TweensTeensBeyond

  13. June 28, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Hoorah for your very brave daughter standing up to the ghastly frenemy – she had to get there on her own and she did. Girls can just be so nasty and it all kicks in about year 4/5 from my teaching experience. My eldest is far more into Sims, Pokemon and Minecraft than all the girly pop music and nails etc too but luckily she hasn’t been picked on because of it. I think you did the right thing by not talking to the parents at primary school, as it is the school’s responsibility to deal with this and it would only damage your daughter’s relationships further. Such a tricky one, as you just want to get it sorted and it’s so hard to know what to do. I think often teachers are very good at trying to boost the child who has been bullied but actually the child who is bullying needs to be reprimanded and warned, and possibly their parents need to be brought in. I have found often that in schools this is not the policy so everybody else knows, except the child who is actually causing all the damage, so they’re blissfully unaware while others are suffering. Very frustrating as a parent. This kind of toxic friendship though sadly carries on in life as a female. It’s only now that I feel completely freed of any crap like that, because I have the confidence to be aware of it, and away from it. But so hard for our daughters to be anywhere near that yet. Great post to raise awareness of these issues which are so common unfortunately, but again, hats off to your daughter. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 9:40 pm

      Oh Susie yes you are right, Year 4/5 is efinitely a pivotal point in girl’s behaviour – probably related to the hormones kicking in. You make a good point too about the child being blissfully unaware of the effects of their behaviour. I think that the longer they get away with it the more natural it becomes. There will always be these kind of friends/acquaintances throughout life and it is a tough lesson to learn but certainly the earlier we can all learn it and how to handle it the better. From my perspective, anyone that drags me down or makes me unhappy is soon sidelined. Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. #TweensTeensBeyond

  14. June 28, 2017 / 8:34 am

    I was literally glued to this post. Thank you for making it so public (and thank you for introducing me to the word “friend Boys”! Well done to your girl. She sounds fabulous. I wish we lived closer. She sounds like a perfect friend for my daughter.And well done to you too mum, it’s not easy in situations like that to not just barge in.

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 9:42 pm

      Oh thank you Liz I am glad you found it engaging, it is such a difficult issue but one that I am sure we all encounter at some point in our lives. Friend boys is a favourite expression in our house! #TweensTeensBeyond

  15. June 27, 2017 / 9:12 pm

    Oh my word well done to your daughter for standing up to her. Frenemies are the worst and one fo my daughters is not so tough to handle hers. It drives me insane. I worry constantly as this girl manipulates and bullies repeatedly and every time my daughter goes back to her. Breaks my heart but I can only guide and encourage but I can never make her strong from within and that saddens me so much. Hopefully one day she will get there but we aren’t there yet. Me? Oh I am and I’ve got that girls card marked for sure as only mums do! #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 9:46 pm

      Oh Helen I feel for you. It is the manipulative behaviour that is so insidious and destructive. I could see so clearly what this girl was upto but it was so hard, particularly in the early days to keep my mouth shout! Dumping my daughter as a friend was although hurtful a blessing in disguise as it was a catalyst for my daughter to see this girl from a different perspective. I so hope your daughter manages to see her frenemy for what she is and break away too. #TweensTeensBeyond

  16. June 27, 2017 / 9:11 pm

    It sounds like you handled this really well. Your daughetr obviously feels able to talk to you about what is going on and trusts that you will respect her opinions about how to tackle things. I’m glad she was able to stand back, reflect and see how toxic the relationship was and decide to walk away from it. #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 9:52 pm

      I like to think that my teens can talk to me but it is not really until you are in this kind of situation that the reality of that is put to the test. Thanks for your comment Lynne. #TweensTeensBeyond

  17. June 27, 2017 / 8:46 pm

    I had a similar experience as a child, whose parents parents told me to man up, ignore the girl and kust ignore her and stop complaining to the teachers all the time, i took the matter into my own hands aged 17 after leaving school and the torments continued and punched her in the face, breaking her nose, needless to say she left me alone after that. when my son got bullied on the bus, i went straight to the parents door and asked them to help me put a stop to it before it escalated any further and the following day my son reported the boy had left him alone on the bus and during playtime. From experience as a teacher I’ve found many teachers have been too frightened to tackle the student and bring the parents of the bully into school for fear of repercussions and denials from the bully and the parent and that it’s easier to tell the victim to just ignore it #triumphanttales

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 9:55 pm

      Oh wow Suzanne what a story. I am glad that you managed to deal with your own situation and that your own experience then clearly influenced the way you were so quick to step in and support your son when he was going through a similar scenario. I think you are so right about teachers just not stepping in to confront the problem. It is a sensitive issue for sure and needs careful handling but it does need to be tackled quickly and not ignored. Thanks for sharing your experiences. #TweensTeensBeyond

  18. June 27, 2017 / 4:26 pm

    Good for her. One of the problems with “zero tolerance” for bullying is that sometimes it can be hard to define. Love this post, great reminder that we need to teach them that sometimes there are going to be people that it just isn’t healthy to be around. #teenstweensbeyond

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 9:57 pm

      Oh Jeremy how right you are! Every school my teens have been in has proudly bandied this expression around but rarely have I seen it put into practice and any suggestion of bullying is quickly sidestepped. As you say life will always involve exposure to people like this and learning to deal with it early on is crucial. #TweensTeensBeyond

  19. June 27, 2017 / 4:05 pm

    I had a frenemy myself in 7th and 8th grade. And now I hear from my mom friends that frenemies are alive and well in middle school and high school. My daughter is 10 and I’m stealing myself for the danger ahead. Sigh.


    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 9:59 pm

      It seems that sadly they are everywhere. Maybe your daughter will get lucky but if not at least you will be there to guide her. #TweensTeensBeyond

  20. oldhouseintheshires
    June 27, 2017 / 2:43 pm

    Oh good for your girl! Well done her. This happened to my daughter too but one day she said that she actually felt sorry for her frenemy as she was obviously the one without real friends as she had to be nasty to hold on to friendships! Voila! I was so proud of her at that moment. We meet them all the time as woman, don’t we? That woman who makes digs at us as she feels worthless. Let’s empower girls to have this kind of confidence to say, enough is enough. Lovely post. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 10:08 pm

      Your daughter is so right. It is often those that are insecure and lacking in confidence who turn to these kind of tactics. I hope that our girls’ experiences however tough they were at the time will give them courage for the future. #TweensTeensBeyond

  21. June 27, 2017 / 10:48 am

    Congratulations to your daughter!! Hopefully she’ll remember that strength and anger the next time she needs it.

    The Tubblet got bullied at primary and we did get the school involved. They were marvellous and dealt with it really well. They spoke to the girls and their parents and things calmed down. There’s been nothing since. Touch wood!

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 10:10 pm

      Sorry to hear about your daughter’s experience but I am glad that the school was so supportive and that they situation could be brought under control. When you drop off your child for a day at school you need the peace of mind that their welfare is taken seriously. #TweensTeensBeyond

  22. Alisa
    June 27, 2017 / 10:12 am

    Oh my goodness! This reads like a story where the hero wins in the end. I had goose-bumps when your daughter stood up to that horrid girl! I am bookmarking this becuase I have spied frenemies in the mist already in Year 4. I had forgotten that term but I think it’s a really good one. Sometimes I can’t find the right words to describe this to my daughter- but you have. I hope you don’t mind me cribbing your genius! I hope your daughter is back on an even keel. She sounds like a great girl! xx

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 10:11 pm

      Oh Alisa please go ahead, the great thing about sharing these stories is that they may help someone else to tackle a similar scenario. I hope that your daughter is spared the agony. #TweensTeensBeyond

  23. June 26, 2017 / 2:33 pm

    We need to guide our children about this behaviour. It still happens in adult life if you let it I think. I’m glad that my children sailed through school with no bullying. It’s a different world out there now though.

    • Jo
      July 3, 2017 / 10:12 pm

      Laurie you are spot on it is all about guidance and as you say it is unfortunately not limited to the playground so is a good lesson to learn if a tough one. Thanks for your comment.

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