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How To Support Your Daughter to Make Healthy Friendships During Middle School

Ugh. Middle school friends can be so challenging. And many of us, including myself, can carry the feelings of rejection or the belief that we won’t be accepted by “those” women, or something is wrong with me and I’m just not likable or pretty or funny or smart enough and we feel isolated and lonely. 

Today, my special guest is Amy Weatherly who is so relatable, honest and has a down-to-earth sense of humor.  

Amy is on the show to talk about her latest book that she co-authored with Jess Johnson, for our middle school girls about friendship, I’ll Be There (And Let’s Make Friendship Bracelets): A Girl’s Guide to Making and Keeping Real-Life Friendships. 

Amy and Jess create a Facebook page called, Sister, I Am With You, which currently has over a million followers where they get real about the ins and outs, the ups and down, and all the in-betweens of friendship. 

You have probably seen her face on The Today Show, MSN.com, Good Morning America, Yahoo.com, Love What Matters, Focus on the Family, and of course, her own social media pages where she loves building communities of women who support each other fiercely.

Let’s dive in!

What You Will Learn: 

  • Prioritizing friendships.
  • How social media has made us lonelier.
  • Why do so many of us struggle with being people pleasers?
  • Popularity vs. belonging.
  • Changing our mindset around friendships.
  • How we all struggle with friendships even if no one is talking about it.
  • Being a friend that is not easily offended.
  • How moms and caregivers can come alongside their tweens and teens when they are struggling with friendships.

Where to find Amy Weatherly:

Find more encouragement, wisdom, and resources:

Sign up for our Moms of Tweens and Teens newsletter HERE

And here is the episode typed out!

Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. If some days you doubt yourself and don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve ugly cried alone in your bedroom because you felt like you were failing. Well, I just want to let you know you are not alone, and you have come to the right place.

Raising tweens and teens in today’s world is not easy. And I’m on a mission to equip you to love well and to raise emotionally healthy, happy tweens and teens that thrive.

I believe that moms are heroes, and we have the power to transform our families and impact future generations. If you are looking for answers, encouragement, and becoming more of the mom and the woman that you want to be, welcome. I am Sheryl Gould. And I am so glad that you’re here.

SHERYL:  Welcome, Amy, to the Moms of Tweens and Teens podcast. I am so honored to have you here and excited. I know we’re going to have great fun talking today.

AMY:  Yes, I’m so excited. Thank you for having me. It’s such an honor.

SHERYL:  I am so excited to talk about your new book. I’m going to hold it up for those that are on video watching. I’ll Be There (And Let’s Make Friendship Bracelets): A Girl’s Guide to Making and Keeping Real-Life Friendships.

 And you wrote this with Jess Johnston. And she couldn’t be with us. 

But I’m thrilled to hear your story and about your first book. And then, what led you to write this book? So why don’t we tell a little about yourself and how you got into doing what you do – writing this book?

AMY:  My name is Amy Weatherly. I’m from Texas. I started writing online a few years ago and stumbled into it. I wrote something in this private little group, like a little teeny group. Privately. There was never supposed to be anything. I thought 100 people might read it. 

But it went crazy viral, like someone in that group copied and pasted it and then put it elsewhere. And then it just exploded. It was all over the internet that changed my whole life. Because from there, I was like, oh, okay, well, I guess I’m doing this now. 

And that’s kind of how I started doing it; I think it’s doing it for like two years. When I met Jess, I acted like I thought it was fate. It was not fate. I knew who she was. I liked the way she wrote. We have similar styles. She and I are pretty laid back and casual. And like this is just who we are. 

I’m not here to be a fancy writer. I’m not here to have my word. You’re not flowery, or I just want to share what I’m going through. And I want other people to connect with people like – I love God. I love people so much. I love people anyways. So I just hit her up in the DMs. 

And we kind of started talking. And the conversation of friendship just came up a lot naturally because of things, honestly, things I was going through in my personal life. And Matt just started talking about friendship and wanted to work with her in some capacity. 

And one day, I just had this idea: the whole page was born in 10 minutes or less. And I just called her up. And I said, Jess, I have this idea for a page called Sister I’m With You. I’ve already looked it up. There’s no Instagram handle for it, and there’s no website handle, and there’s no Facebook web page. 

I just went ahead and grabbed all of it without even knowing whether she wanted to do it. I was like, the idea had the name, grab those handles, and I think we should start a page just on friendship. And we just talked about female friendship. We talked about the hard stuff. We talked about none of this, like, oh my gosh, you’ve got to find your people because it’s so wonderful. 

No, we get into what it’s like when you can’t find them, what it’s like when you lose them. What it’s like when you’re insecure about it. And yeah, let’s call it Sister, I’m With You, and she’s like, Yep, let’s do it. And then we did it, and it exploded. And it grew. 

And then we wrote the book I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants), and the adult version did very well. And so the publishers just came on board and were like, Hey, would you like to adapt this for kids and tweens? Like an eight to 12-year-old version? And obviously, we just said yes. Yeah, let’s do it.

SHERYL:  And it’s awesome. It’s such a good book, and I bought your sweatpants book. I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants). So yeah, I’m kind of fascinated with it. I went to the whole community you’ve built, Sister. I Am With You. And I was like, wow, you have over a million followers. And it’s all around friendship. And I’m thinking, what caused you to feel such a passion and heart around friendship?

AMY:  Because I think I struggled with it. I think some people write things when it’s like a topic. They’re an expert on, I think, blogging and things like this. You have two different kinds of experts who go into it that they’re just automatically an expert, so they are there to help other people. 

And I think that because I struggled with it for so long and many years. For many years, as I struggled with it, and the more I was willing, vulnerable, and willing to put it out there, I realized, oh, other women are feeling this too. This is not my thing. This is a whole culture thing. 

We’re feeling it. We just don’t feel like we can talk about it. And so that is what led to it was me struggling with it. And just kind of getting to a point in my life where I was like, I refuse. I kind of refuse to continue to live this way. I refuse to live lonely. I refuse to live to feel disconnected. I refuse to live to feel insecure. I refuse to live feeling like a people pleaser. And I refuse to live feeling like I’m never gonna figure this out. 

So I just set out on a mission to learn and do it. And so I’ve kind of learned with my followers. It’s been a whole growth thing for me personally, and I’m just really grateful to be able to share it all.

SHERYL:  Yeah, were you surprised by how many women were struggling with it?

AMY:  I was sad about it. You know, I was sad because it’s funny, I was just putting my feelings out there. And, again, like, just really want to want to connect other with other women because there’s nothing worse than going through something hard. And feeling like you’re the only one that is isolated. And if you feel isolated, the more you feel isolated in that, I think, the more you pull into yourself, and the more you truly believe those lies like this is my problem. 

I am the only one I suck. I’ll never figure this out. And so I just talked about it. And I didn’t even realize that I was talking about friendship. When I would talk about these things, when I would talk about pleasing people, people pleasing when I would talk about feeling left out, or I would talk, my first post that went viral was about being okay with people not liking me. 

And I didn’t realize that those were tied into friendships until my followers pointed it out to people. Like, I love the way you talk about friendship. And I was like, oh, okay, okay, you’re right. That is kind of the main theme here. But I didn’t see it until someone pointed it out. I think that’s interesting.

SHERYL:  Yes. How cool. I mean, it’s so true that that feeling of being alone and the “people pleasing” – when I was reading, and both of your books are about the people pleasing. I wish I had had this book when I was in middle school. We’ll get into that. But this is the loneliness. 

And the reason I said, were you surprised, is because I would think that this has been very therapeutic for you to write about it and then realize that you’re not the only woman out there that is struggling to form friendships that feel lonely, that is doubting herself, like, Oh, look at those women over there. Should I be in that group of women? Should I be, this is me like I’m looking around. I’m staring. Where am I supposed to be? 

It was good it came out for that reason. I can just look like I’m searching for messages. Yeah, and how do I insert myself into this group? And you know, feeling left out in Middle School and how that can follow us into our dark side. And then, putting that on other women, they think something might be wrong with me, and they don’t want to be my friend. And there’s not enough space for me over there. And you know, all of that.

AMY:  All of it. Yes. And I don’t see those feelings stemming from things that happened to us in middle and high school. Most of that is built because I have a six-year-old daughter, and you know what? She is not afraid to go insert herself in a conversation with kids. 

She is not afraid to go ask someone to be her friend. She’s not afraid to play with a stranger. She’s pretty extroverted. I have an introverted kid, even him when he was young. I think those things were scary. I think it all comes from when we’re young. It’s like, your rejections. Terrible, and I think little doses. 

We’ve all been rejected and had little doses along the way. And I think we get a lot of contemplation. We’re terrified of rejection. We’re terrified of it. And we would do anything to avoid that feeling again. So we just stop trying and kind of get this feeling like this is just how I have to live. This is just how it has to be.

SHERYL:  Yeah, and I’ll be alone, and I’d rather feel alone and isolated than put yourself out there and feel rejected.

AMY:  Yes, and then you are looking at girls, and social media has made it all worse if we’re honest like it has helped us connect with other women and feel like we’re less alone. But then it’s also made us lonelier because we see every girl’s night that happens without us. We see every trip, and we’re not included. We see it all. 

Before, we could pretend that that stuff wasn’t happening without us. But now, we know when we’re not invited. And we know when we’re not included. I felt like for a long time, do they just have something that I don’t? There’s something in their chemical makeup, personality, or lifestyle that I don’t have and never will. And I’m so sad. I mean, it’s so sad. 

It breaks my heart because other women also feel like that. And I know teenagers feel like that.

SHERYL:  Yeah, yeah, I know, it is sad. And there’s something wrong with me. I always remember looking. I ended up with my mom, my dad died, and my mom remarried. And my listeners probably don’t even know this. I don’t talk about it, but my mom remarried, and I had a stepsister the same age as me who moved into our house in middle school. 

And she was super cute. And I was not. I have my hair short. It’s curly. It looked like a cotton swab. So bad. But she had that magical way about her, where girls were just attracted to her. 

And it was like, why? What am I missing? You know, it was like, something must be missing like that girl, that popular girl. And everybody seems to be drawn to her, and what might be wrong with me is that they’re not drawn to me. 

What have you learned through starting to talk about this creating that? Over a million followers are amazing.

AMY:  Yeah. It is crazy. Maybe three and a half years? Because we started in the summer, the three and a half? Yeah, it’s kind of a baby still.

SHERYL:  What have you learned about yourself and your sense of self in that process? You said you were a people pleaser historically. How have you grown through it?

AMY:  I would say one of the biggest things I learned are what we pick up as tweens and teens. They are lies we picked up and believed that we have to unlearn. And I hope that we are teaching our kids. I want to teach my daughter in a way that she doesn’t have to unlearn so much. 

Because it’s so much easier to get it right the first time than at the age of, I’m almost 40 – than at this age to be like unpacking all this stuff and figuring it out and unlearning and adopting new ways of thinking that’s tough.  

I would say the first one is that we are not craving popularity.

Popularity is not the fix- it is not the fix. The fix is belonging. And there’s a difference between having many friends and having the right friends. And I think that, as tweens and teens, we just think, if I just got invited to more stuff, and if I knew more people, and if I looked this way, and could hang out with this crowd, then it would all be fine. 

No, popularity is not about having many friends who do not fix us. That craving in us to belong – we don’t need more than a couple of friends. And honestly, statistics show that time and energy-wise, a couple of friends, a couple of really close friends, are probably all we’re capable of nurturing. 

Just because, you know, it’s limited. We’re busy. They’re busy. We all have lives. We all have other people who are, like, our husbands, our kids, jobs that suck a lot out of it. So we only have the capacity for a couple of really, really, really strong and true friendships. And somebody that belongs is letting yourself be known. Finding people who know you and take you as you are.

SHERYL:  You don’t feel like you have to be somebody else to fit in. 

AMY:  Because it’s exhausting, it’s exhausting having to tiptoe. It’s exhausting to be like, okay, okay, well, I’m hanging out with these people. Who do they want me to be? No, that is that’s exhausting. You know what’s good is showing up in your sweatpants. Something like this is who I am today. I’m kinda cranky. And I’m so sorry. I love y’all. But this is who I am right now in this moment. That feels good.

SHERYL:  It’s like my one friend that doesn’t wash her hair for three days. So that has five kids, and she has a baseball cap on, and then you know, we get somewhere, and she’s like, Okay, I haven’t washed my hair for three days, but I can take off my baseball cap for you.

AMY:  Yes, it is about taking off your cap and being like it is and finding those few people who will accept it. That’s a tough journey. But it’s so important. So I would say that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned that it’s not popularity. It is belonging. 

And I would say one of the second things I’ve learned in this journey is that there’s no personality trait. It is easier for some people than for others. Maybe something in their upbringing made it easier, but there’s nothing that can’t be learned. 

Friendship is possible for everyone. It is possible for everyone, introverted, extroverted, not based. I should not base it on any of that, it’s all possible for us, but we just have to be willing to learn things. And we have to be willing to grow. And we have to be willing to take chances. 

So I think that’s a big one that it is empowering. To go from a place where you feel like, well, this is just the way things are going to be, this is just the way things are gonna be. I am who I am. There’s nothing I can do about it. 

And there’s a lot of power to be had when we realize, no, I can change my mindset. And I can change my life. And I can learn things and grow in a way that will help me get to where I want to be. I can take the reins. I don’t have to wait for an invitation to live my life. I can do that. I can do that now. There’s a lot of power in that. 

SHERYL:  Amen, sister, to that one. And also being able to disprove those false beliefs about ourselves that we take from middle and high school into our adult life. And so if I’m believing, well, somebody doesn’t want to be my friend, or I don’t fit in, I’m going to respond in a way that creates that then I’m not gonna go and say hello, because I’m going to believe I’m going to be rejected. 

So I’ve learned that that’s not true over the years. Because I’m choosing not to live to believe those lies anymore, it does take work, as you said, and courage. And we do have to step out a little bit. But the more we can disprove that and reach out to that other mom, that’s lonely, too. We’re surprised that a million women in your community are there because they want that sense of belonging.

AMY:  Yeah, that’s what always kills me. Because one of the comments we get all the time is other women already have their friends. There’s no space for me – no one else is looking for this. No one else wants to be a good friend. And I’m like, this is like one and seven. Oh, I don’t even want to share it anymore because I don’t know what that statistic is. 

More women are lonely than are not. More women are looking for good friendships that are not. And it’s by a big number, like a big number. Most women would say that they have zero close friends. That’s the most popular number. When a group of women was asked, how many close friends do you have? The most popular answer is zero. 

So there is a field, and there are tons of women looking for friendship. There are a ton of women who are ready for this. But it will take bravery on each part to go out there and find it. And just to hold power, and you know what, another thing I learned was that this was a good one because I am a people pleaser. And so my whole life was just this like, and it was a chapter, and one of the books was called Please Like Me. 

We often walk into places, and we assume people aren’t going to like us because we haven’t been liked in the past. And we assume people will eventually dupe us because we’ve been duped in the past, and that mindset messes us up. That is a huge barrier. Whether we know it or it’s a huge barrier because we go in looking for that. I think we tend to find what we’re looking for. 

So for a long time, we kind of lived with this just please, like me, let me be funny enough. Let me be likable. Let me be entertaining. Let me have really good stories to share, and then people will want to be with me. And I found that that is not true. That is not the mentality to go in with. 

The mentality to go in with is how can I make people feel light? And how can I make people feel like their story is important to me? How can I make people feel like – I don’t know how to even say, how can I make people feel special about themselves, and you stop focusing so much on you?

It’s like really just getting over yourself, getting over yourself, getting over your ego, and making it about other people. And you will find a true connection there. But it starts with you don’t have to be an entertainer. Oh, I’ve got three funny stories, like I don’t have a lot of funny stories to tell, I can’t watch, I’m not gonna be entertaining. 

SHERYL:  I don’t know about that. I think you’re pretty entertaining.

AMY:  Well, next time you’re with me a second time, but after a few times, I’m not entertaining. And so that is what I’ve I’ve learned is I don’t have to, like pressure off. It doesn’t have to be about me. For people to want to be with me, I have to make them feel good about themselves. I have to be just willing to have this connection with them. 

I’ve worked on cultivating a lot of getting over myself. And being like, wow, I get to have this connection. I get to have this conversation with another human, and I get to learn more about them. How cool is that? And it’s just kind of changed everything for me.

SHERYL:  I just love that. Like, how can I care about other people? Yes, in your head is a very lonely place, even with what I do. All of our listeners do. It’s so easy to get stuck in our heads. And then, to take a risk, I have to say no, I want to serve other people. I want to write about other people. I’m showing up to care and connect. And that gets me out of mine. What are they going to think about me? Do I sound smart? Am I funny? You know, I usually fall flat on my face-to-face. I’m doing that anyway. 

AMY:  Yeah, I’ve just found out what a beautiful thing it is. If I can get into a headspace where I’m like, Just be impressed by other people, just get to know to get to know them, like think that their story is cool. And they are more likely to want to be around you. You’re more or less. It’s just easier. 

Suppose I’m comfortable with myself. They’re more likely to feel comfortable. And that’s going to open a lot of doors. But if I walk in and I’m awkward, and I make the show about me, I feel good. Do you know that at the end of the day? It’s a lot of pressure on me and probably exhausting for them. I don’t know.

SHERYL:  Yeah, a lot of performing. Well, I perform. Yeah, I want to thank you for saying the statistics – do you know how many moms feel like they have zero friends? That’s a lot. And we don’t realize that, and I have a very social and b very good friend. And she’s lonely all the time because she is lonely. 

And she’s like, yes, because it connects real true connection. I think that just moms knowing the statistics of how many moms feel lonely will help them be able to reach out. Yeah, for moms to know that. Yeah. Chances are, you’re talking to somebody that’s feeling lonely, too.

AMY:  Yeah, I was talking to a friend, so I went somewhere with some girlfriends. And talking is not difficult for me. I will talk to anybody. I love to talk to strangers on the go up and cough to compliment someone. That’s not a hard thing for me. 

So we were talking about social anxiety, and she was like, you don’t have social anxiety? And I was like, Oh, yes, I do. I have it almost worse than anybody I know. And she was like, No, you seem so confident. And I was like, yeah, I can talk to people. And strangers are easy for me. But if I walk into a place with many people, I’m nervous the whole time.

I was like, you can watch now leave for the bathroom at least once, and I’m sure people are like, What is she doing in there? Is she sick? Should we give her some time? Watch her – what is she doing in there? 

I go to the bathroom and recollect myself almost every time because I get so nervous. And then after every social interaction. I’m hard on myself. And I question everything. Why did you say that? Like why did you do this? This was so weird. Are you friendly enough? Were you? It’s just I think it’s easy to assume other people have it easier than we do. Do you know?

SHERYL:  Yeah. Do you ever get the lip quiver? Have you ever – what’s happened to me if I’m really nervous, and I’m going into a group, and I sort of know that, and then my lip, my stomach, like thinking, oh my gosh, can they see that? Can they see my lips quivering and I’m nervous, you know? And yeah, that sends me into a tailspin. That doesn’t happen as much as it used to. So that’s good.

AMY:  I do talk more when I’m nervous. So that is it. And I don’t do it on purpose. It’s just the way it comes out for me. But I’m like, so that’s why many people like you don’t have social anxiety? And I’m like, no, what you saw, you thought was me being friendly. And that was me being nervous. That was mine. My nervous tic was me talking a lot. 

And I do this weird tongue thing. Like, I do my tongue back and forth. And it’s so weird. And I’d like I have no control over it. Instead of my lip quivering, my tongue will go back and forth. Like kind of in between talking, or while I’m listening to people, and I’ve had people ask, Are you okay? And I don’t open my mouth after that.

SHERYL:  I love it. Oh, my gosh, we all have something, right?

AMY:  It is more women than we think. I’m big on a mantra, not like, like a mantra, but like, Okay, this phrase is gonna help me get through. So like, one of them is to make people feel like and just sort of flipping that whole switch. 

So I try to walk into places, and when I go to the bathroom, I like to recollect myself and be like, you don’t have to perform. You don’t have to be entertaining. You don’t have to be someone you’re not. 

And then another one that I try to remind myself is like, be aware of who is reaching out – who is making efforts. Be aware, but don’t be offended. So be aware of who’s in your corner, but don’t be offended when someone’s not, don’t live with that like a chip on your shoulder, like constantly looking for ways to be offended. 

And I think we’re easily offended by society as a whole. And I think that just translates all over. And I don’t want to be a friend that’s easy to offend because that’s, again, not a good way to live. It’s not as pleasant. 

The third one is I’d rather be weird than rude. I’d rather be weird than alone. So if it’s really hard for me to start a conversation, I just try to remind myself, like, what’s the worst that can happen is that they think you’re weird. Okay. That’s not so bad. 

That’s all people have to say about me. I can handle that if I go up and compliment a woman that I don’t know or that I barely know. And that comes off as weird. Okay, I can handle being weird. I’d rather be weird than rude. I’d rather be weird than lonely, whether weird or disconnected. So kind of just putting myself in a place where like, you can do it. You can reach out to someone even if it’s hard. You can do it but changing the way you think about it.

SHERYL:  Yeah, and I love that, too, because weird is not bad. 

AMY:  Or I was too friendly. Well, okay, that’s fine. Go. Please run around town and say that about me. I don’t care. Do you know? But find the people who are okay with it because my friends know I’m weird. My friends know I’m awkward. They told me yesterday. Anyways, I had this whole awkward encounter, and they just died. And they’re like, Amy, you’re just you, aren’t you? And I was like, Yes, I am. 

SHERYL:  And thank God, I can truly be weird and be me and be okay with that.

AMY:  Yes. Yeah. Yep. And no, some people are gonna get it, and some people aren’t. Okay, either way. Because when you find the ones who get it, it’s pretty refreshing. And it’s relaxing to just know you’re in a place where I’m okay. 

SHERYL:  And that it’s a journey, but you know, baby steps, but the encouragement of your community to be able to focus. I mean, all of what you write is just, it’s so heartfelt, and it’s so relatable, but it’s also inspiring, just to continue to set our minds.

It just keeps bringing it back to what is important and what matters. Yeah, so good. Well, we said we’ll talk about your girl’s book. And I want you to speak a little bit about that because I work with many moms. I’m really glad we’re talking about friendship because with what I do, I work with a lot of moms that have girls that are struggling with friendships, middle schoolers primarily. 

And you’re getting left out in COVID did a number on us. And I’m glad we’re also talking about friendships, as regards us because that’s a little different. And really important because my experience also is that moms and I have been there we get so upset. When our daughters are in middle school and going through this, it’s very difficult not to put our stuff on them. 

To not get all caught up in that, yet you’ve written this book, and you have questions for the girl. I mean, it’s just amazing how you decided to write it. But why did you decide to write it? Why don’t you just start there?

AMY:  Well, most of all, we decided to write it because the publisher asked us to.

SHERYL:  Have truth be known. 

AMY:  No, I always thought a kid’s book would come from this. And so I’m grateful that it did. But I wanted to write because, as I said earlier, I feel like the people on our page, “Sister, I’m with you,” has resonated with many because we must learn a lot. 

We did not have a really good foundation when it came to friendship. We didn’t have anyone there to talk to us and say they don’t like us. It’s okay. That doesn’t mean they’re bad. It doesn’t mean you’re bad. It’s okay. We didn’t have anyone there to say stuff like that. It’s okay. If you don’t have a lot of friends, find one friend. And that’s great. You pour into them and love them.

There’s just a lot of unlearning. I think our age has had to do – I just think how wonderful it would be if we took all of this. And we gave it to the next generation. And they just had a really solid foundation. And they could go from there. And they could know who they were. And they could know they had the power to change their lives and that they didn’t have to wait around. 

That they could know, okay, I can do these hard things. And they were empowered by that. So that’s it. I want the next generation to just have a really good foundation. I don’t want them to have to unlearn what we have had to unlearn.

SHERYL:  Yeah, you were successful in that and with this book. And I love it. Because I think at this age, girls are so much looking outside of themselves, especially with social media, which we were talking about earlier before we jumped on, but social media for their sense of self. 

How do I measure up, and it’s right there in their face? And your book continues to bring it back to who you want to be. What kind of friends do you want to have? How do you deal with conflict? Who taught us how to deal with conflict? You talk about how conflict is usually dealt with, with the girls talking amongst the girls because they don’t want to tell their friends they’re upset. Yes, nobody taught us back then how to.

AMY:  We’re a whole generation of avoiders. It gets hard. We avoid it getting uncomfortable. It just cuts you off and moves on. And that, again, you can’t find lasting friendships by being a leaving friend. You have to figure out how to work through some of the stuff and to know when it’s time to work through it and to have that conflict. And to know when it is time to let something go. And there’s a lot of maturity in that. 

But that is the truth. Have the hard conversations. Like, I think there’s kind of this fine line of setting boundaries and being like, this is what I want out of friendships. This is what I hope to gain. And I’m gonna have boundaries between you and me and make sure we don’t overstep and then just end up cutting everybody out. 

Because they mess up one time or because we’re not willing to talk things through, there’s a fine line there.

SHERYL:  Yeah, turning back. Well, what I love, and I just want to read a couple of these, is I think one of the struggles is our girls don’t, and boys do too, but we don’t have the words for what to say to take care of ourselves. So we don’t know what to say. So we don’t say anything, and we just stop it. 

But you give some scripts. Use your words for good. What did you mean when you said that you call it practicing healthy communication? Hey, are we good? Why did you react like that? Did I hurt your feelings?

Hey, when you did that, it hurt my feelings. Can we talk about it the other day? I feel like things got weird between us. I’ve been struggling with blank. We talk about it. 

You go on and on, and I won’t read them all because they’re so good. But it gives our girls words to be empowered. And you can think that you can think about, okay, how do I talk to them? Oh, here, I can say this. And give some tools and some tools that I often find as moms we don’t have because we didn’t learn them or we get wrapped in them. And then we don’t have our best cap thinking cap line. Or they don’t listen. 

They don’t hear what we have to say because they’re starting to tune us out at that age. Yeah, I liked that you included that. And you have all kinds of – tell them about the different kinds of things that you put activities you put in the book.

AMY:  Okay, well, so I have ADHD, and I write in a way that I assume other people do, too. So I just got off the phone with my publisher about wanting to change some things because I was like, No, everybody has ADHD. Now we all have – I have old habits. And I know that’s not true. 

But our attention span has changed. So it was just really important to me, as someone who has a very hard time reading a book front to cover, that’s fine. I have a hard time with it. I get to make it interactive and make it more involved. 

Because I think if they’re involved, they’ll remember more of the stuff will stick out. And they’ll get through it even with this short attention. So they’re like word searches. There are the sticky note challenges. That’s my favorite thing in there; I love the sticky note challenge. It will give you a prompt at the end of every chapter to take a sticky note, and we will give you the message to write on it, write it, and put it on your mirror every day. 

Just like a reminder, or sometimes the sticky note challenge is that you write like a compliment to someone and you give it to them or that you haven’t, like you invite somebody over and you write it on the sticky note and give it out. But most of the sticky note challenges are a note for them to write to themselves and put somewhere where they’ll see it repeatedly. 

And then there’s a little message, a note to the grown-up. Because, again, I want conversations between children and whoever their caregiver is. I wanted those conversations going and always coming up naturally. We think they will, but our kids aren’t always going to tell us everything. 

We didn’t tell our parents everything. They’re not going to always know how to open up to us. And hopefully, this makes it easier and more natural. Because if they if they’ll do it now, if they will learn how to open up to us when they’re eight to 12, the goal is that, hopefully, they come to us when they’re 16, 17, 18. 

And they feel comfortable speaking to us, but to me, you start when they’re young, knowing that you’re a safe place for these conversations. There’s like a word thing where you go when you find all the capital letters, and it gives you a message throughout. Lots of problems. Lots. It’s a cute book. I mean, it’s pretty. 

SHERYL:  Very it’s an adorable block. And it’s the illustrations. They are so cute, too. 

AMY:  We thought we wanted to find the perfect illustrator. It’s not me might have been a lot of stick figures.

SHERYL:  Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s awesome. I know that moms and caregivers are looking for a book they can give their girls to navigate the middle school years.

AMY:  They’re so hard. There’s that. You know, it kind of stuck with me. Like, I’m very far removed from middle school. And I’ve learned I’ve come a long way since then. But even like going back and like kind of tapping into, like, middle school brain and kind of tapping into like, the stories to write. Like, there were a couple of times when I just started crying. 

I started crying from things that happened when I was 13. Because that stuff matters, it sits down, and it forms who we are and what we believe about ourselves one way or another. I just so badly want girls to be confident in who they are. 

So badly want them to walk into this world with competence and not just wait for things to happen but know that they can make things happen. They are capable of forming good friendships. They’re capable of being themselves and being loved as they are.

They can be the one who throws the party and not the one who just sits around and waits. I want them to be confident. I want them to know they’re capable. And they don’t have to just wait for their life to happen.

SHERYL:  Yeah, that’s beautiful. You can tell in your words that your heart is right with them, just like how you wrote them. It’s so heartfelt, and it’s also funny, and, light and serious. And it’s filled with wisdom. So it’s so good. 

I just want to ask you a question. As we’re getting ready to close? What would you say to the mom that’s listening and has a daughter struggling with friendships and confidence? What would you say? How would you encourage them to enter into the conversation?

AMY:  Oh, I say, because I know with my child, one thing I’ve had to learn is what speaks to them. Now, what speaks to me and not what I would want, but what speaks to them, what language, and then you speak it that way. 

I have a son that he doesn’t. He doesn’t necessarily want to have a deep heartfelt conversation with me. You know, unless he approaches it. He doesn’t want me to sit there and pump him up. He’s just he’s not going to be receptive to it. Of words, he will be receptive to a note. If I leave a note in his room, I’m confident I can tell him his actions the next day and that they meant something to him. Does that make sense?


AMY:  To figure out what language they speak and what works for that kid. And then kind of doing what works for them, because like I said, I’ve got one kid who wants me to tell them all the nice things, and they want me to build them up. And I’ve got one kid who gets uncomfortable in that situation. 

But I would have started a journal between him and me. Where every once in a while, there’s like little notes from me to him. And I’ll just put it by his bed. Like when he’s asleep, I’ll put it by saying, so he knows there’s a new little something in there. 

And it’s just, Hey, I saw you do this. And I’m so proud of you. Hey, I just like who you are to me. That’s another big one. And this is mine. This is my number one parenting phrase that I stick to – love them for them. Love them for exactly who they are. Don’t try to change them to who you think they should be. Don’t try to change them and who you are into who you are. Love them, for them. And let that be enough

Try to like them. And sometimes you can’t always like your kids. Sometimes they act nuts and terrible. But if you can love them for exactly who they are and let them be themselves. They will thrive in that environment. Anyone thrives in that environment. None of us want someone who’s trying to change us. None of us want to feel like we’re not good enough. None of us feel like we don’t quite measure up. None of us want to feel that our kids, especially, don’t want to feel that I want to be their safest place. 

I want to be the one that’s like, No, my mom takes me exactly as I am. I want to be their safest home. So that’s the phrase: I love them for them. Love them for them.

SHERYL:  I just love that. And that’s one of the things I say about being their safe place. But the way that you said it. I mean, I’m sure listeners are like, yes, yes. Love them for them, and let that be enough. And just that is going to help them become more confident. They’re not fixer-upper projects. We’re not meant to be living through them. Trying to make them into something we think is trying to fit our mold. They are each unique people.

AMY:  Yeah. And the more I relaxed because I know as a mom, and I don’t know as a mom like I’m constantly worried like, are they going to be okay? Are they going to grow up to be good adults? Are they going to get it out? And I feel more like when I get in that headspace where I’m worried about it and almost frantic about it. 

It’s our home, not as it’s just not as happy there. Everybody’s wound tight. So I try to remember like you set the tone. And you let go of that and believe in them. Believe in them, even when they make a mistake. And sometimes, I don’t want to be an over-fixer of my kid’s problem. 

I don’t want to mow down every obstacle in their way. I want to fix everything for them. I want them to struggle a little bit because those struggles will make them who they are. Those struggles are going to teach them just like a puppy. 

That’s how puppies learn to play by being together, so in those beginning years and puppies feel like they’re important, not the beginning few months weeks in a puppy slap are important because when they’re playing with their boy mothers and sisters. That’s how they learn, you know? 

Oh, I bit my brother, he yelped. And now he won’t play with me. That was too far. So that’s kind of how they learn when they mess up. Your kids will learn when they mess up with you, learn from those struggles, and gain stuff. 

You don’t necessarily want to plow through every obstacle that is not going to help them in the long run. As hard as it is to believe, believe that they will either make the right decision when push comes to shove or learn something valuable, even when they don’t. And they’ll learn it in a way that’s more.

SHERYL:  That will stick with more than just words. And what happens is, it’s like believing they’re going to be okay. Are they going to be? Are they going to be okay? We ended up sending the message they were not going to be okay. And we don’t believe they’re going to be okay.

AMY:  Exactly. Yeah, that’s not the message I want to send my kids. I want to send my message because I believe in you. You’re gonna be fine. You’re gonna not even just fine. You’re gonna be great. You’re gonna be great. We may struggle a little bit here and there. 

But the overwhelming thing is you are going to be great, and you are capable of making these decisions. You are capable of living your life. You are capable of being loved as you are. And I’m going to demonstrate that for you and the way that I behave and the way that I respond, and the way that I react.

SHERYL:  Wow, Amy, thank you. This is so inspiring for us. You know, we’re like, yes, we can do this. Right. And so thank you, tell everybody where to find you where to find. 

AMY:  Sister, I Am With You is the page on friendship for Jess and me. We’re best at Facebook. We’re trying, we’re gonna try to do Instagram, but I always tell them just like we’re tired. It’s not that we don’t want to do everything. We’re just tired. 

I’m very grateful for social media. I take it seriously. I don’t know if you feel this way. But at the end of my life, I’m not going to be like, No, it’s fine. I’m fine with my life because I created a successful Facebook page. No, I don’t care about that. 

I want to know that I was fine in my life because I loved my people hard. And I gave all I had, took chances, and loved my family. 

SHERYL:  I love it. Because I think it’s what we’re talking about is what matters to me, what’s going to fill me up, what’s going to be satisfying for my life and doing it. Am I doing it if you take the friendship to please other people? Or am I doing it because I care about you? So I care about you, but I can’t be everywhere and care about the people that matter to me the most. 

AMY:  Instagram is not our best website.

SHERYL:  You have a great website. 

AMY:  My page is just Amy Weatherly or at Amy Weatherly, and I don’t know, just talk about stuff.

SHERYL:  Talk about real life. Talk about problems and challenges. I will share all that. And then your books. Tell them about you.

AMY:  Yeah, so the adult version, which honestly, because you have a lot of teenage moms, well, not teenage moms, but their moms have teenagers. So, I would say the children’s book we discussed was written for ages eight to 12. Probably a 13-year-old will still be good with that book after 13. 

Honestly, I don’t see why they can’t read the adult version called I’ll be there, but I’ll be wearing sweatpants. Chapter Three is a bit harder and heavier, but I don’t think it’s because they made us take out all the cuss words. We both had cuss words, and they made us take them out. 

There’s nothing in there that a teenager can’t read. So I would say that for the teenager, or if you want the book, I’ll be there, but I’ll be wearing sweatpants, and then eight to 12, maybe eight to 13, I’ll be there, and let’s make friendship bracelets is the adaptation of that book.

SHERYL:  Yeah. I love it. Well, Amy, it has been so much fun. 

AMY:  Bye. Thank you, I gotta go overthink some of the things I said. 

SHERYL:  I love it. We need to hear it. I so appreciate you being on the show. And for all you’re doing.

AMY:  So much thank you so much. It’s an honor. And again, as you know, I appreciate you too because we got to have each other because parenting is hard. That’s the hardest. It’s the hardest gig I’ve ever done. It is tough. 

And we did need each other and needed like little reminders of we’re all in this, and we’re all doing well. And here’s what I did that worked. And here’s what I did that didn’t work. And just a little reminder that in the end, like it’s going to be, the way we love them matters more than anything else.

SHERYL:  Absolutely. Yeah. And to know we’re not alone. We’re in it together. 

AMY:  Yeah, we need that. So thank you so much for what you do, too.

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