• Kim Bogren Owen

"You're Not My Friend:" Learning to Navigate the Challenges of Friendship


Ever have a friend, relative, or child get on your nerves, do something thoughtless, or outright mean?

We all have. And as parents, we all have moments when our children have driven us crazy. The well-known and loved book, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch tells of that frustration as much as it tells of a parent's unconditional love. Navigating relationships can be difficult even with our own children and parents.

For little ones who are just beginning to understand and verbalize their emotions and think in black and white, that fact can be particularly scary. I remember my daughter telling me she was mad at her child care provider because she made me go to work. My little one was not yet able to reconcile her love of me with her anger at me (although, by the time she was a pre-adolescent she had gotten it!).

The power of books, such as Love You Forever, is in communicating a message of love despite frustration or outright anger. Help normalize the challenges of friendships and relationships with Love You Forever, and these other books. After reading these books talk about the ways each of these friendship problems were solved and brainstorm other ways to solve problems.

Use Love You Forever to reassure your child that even when you are angry or frustrated with them, you still love them and that the opposite is true. You know your child loves you even when they are mad or frustrated with you! Share times you remember being really angry at your own parents or siblings when you were a child, and ultimately how you resolved the conflict or came to understand them better.

In Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and Tata Calahan King, a boy does not like the new kid on the block, because he feels he is stealing his best friend. Unsure, of how to solve the problem, he talks to his father who offers to make an enemy pie. Enemy pies are the go to cure for enemies! Part of the magic of the enemy pie is that the boy must play with his enemy for a whole day. The boy follows his father's advice and ends up glad the magic of the enemy pie didn't work (or did it?).

Two monsters experience a fight after one teases the other in Friends by Miles van Hout. The illustrations capture the emotions that go along with each step of the fight and making up perfectly! After reading this book, ask your child to draw or paint (fingerpaint would be great for this) a happy friendship and one when they are angry with their friends.

When Jamaica outgrows her pair of snow boots, her mother gives her brother's old pair in Jamaica and Brianna by Juanita Havill and Anne Sibley O'Brien. Jamaica is embarrassed by the boots and her friend's reaction only leaves her feeling more embarrassed and angry. After Jamaica gets a new pair of boots she is still holding onto that slight so she strikes back at Brianna. Both girls end up with hurt feelings but are able to talk about it and work it out.

James is John's enemy. They used to be friends, but not anymore because James always "wants to be the boss." John thinks of all the bad things that James does in Let's Be Enemies by Janice May Udry and Maurice Sendek until he decides to go over to James's house to tell him they are now enemies. They agree on that, but then the sun comes out.

1 and 2 are best friends. That is until 3 comes and the trouble starts in Two by Kathryn Otoshi. As they each drag other friends into the dispute it gets more and more complicated- Will they be able to work it out? Find out in this wonderful book that also teaches math concepts.

As always, I hope you enjoy these recommendations. Feel free to share with credit to Words Reflected and Kim Bogren Owen on Facebook, your website, or in your newsletter. Please add your recommendations for additional books about fighting between friends in the comments.

(This blog uses the Amazon affiliate program so when you click on the image and purchase through Amazon, you are supporting us! If you don't purchase through these links, please, be sure to support your local, independent bookstore or find them at your library!)

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