“Toxic” has become a buzzword.
Just scroll through your social media feed for a few minutes and take note of how many times it’s used.
Now, let’s be clear. It takes a lot of courage to recognize and walk away from truly toxic situations. We love seeing people open up about their experiences while giving and receiving support from their online community.
But, let’s talk about this audio we ran across on some Instagram reels recently:
“If it’s complicated, I ain’t doing it. If it’s going to cause me stress, I ain’t doing it. If it’s going to get on my nerves, I’m not doing it. It’s just a no for me now.”
Let’s unpack this.
What is this saying to our kids?
What is the impact as “toxic” loses its true meaning?
A little concerning, right?
Stressful or complicated situations aren’t always toxic. A friend that gets on our nerves isn’t necessarily toxic. Let’s give our kid’s the tools to decide:
Is this a toxic friendship? Or is this part of the normal up and downs of a friendship?
Now we get it. We’re all imperfect and there are moments when we will be “bad” friends. That’s ok! Let’s not burden ourselves or our kids with the pressure to be perfect. Instead, let’s learn to ask if this is a one-off situation or a pattern with a friend.
If the answer is “yes, it’s a pattern”, time to get out! Toxic friendships can damage your kid’s mental health, impact their self-esteem, and expose them to bullying. It doesn’t matter if ending that relationship stirs up drama, it’s time to leave it behind.
Empower your kid to set boundaries about how they should be treated in a friendship.
Encourage them as they learn to stand up for themselves.
Educate them so they spend their time nurturing healthy friendships and avoiding bad ones as they get older.
We won’t sugar coat it: relationships are hard. There will always be moments of frustration, tension, or disagreement. Even being challenged to become a better person feels like conflict at first.
How do you prepare your kid to tell the difference between a healthy friendship going through growing pains and a toxic one that should be abandoned?
Healthy friendships regularly feel:
A true friend’s presence reminds your kid of all that they are, not all they’re not.
We’ll say it again, this doesn’t mean conflict won’t pop up at times. The difference is how it’s handled. Toxic friends will refuse to apologize and work through the issue. Real friends will put in the uncomfortable work to resolve the conflict, building a relationship stronger than ever.
Now you have the tools to equip your kid. As we reclaim the word, you help them avoid a harmful friendship and recognize a healthy one that’s just going through a rough patch (the younger you start, the better)!