What is your child's tribe?

  • Student Life
Cameron Crain

Growing up is hard and filled with many choices.

The biggest choice many of our children make is not whether or not they should audition for the play or try out for volleyball. The biggest choice is about what friend group, or "tribe," that they choose to join. For most of our students this means everything. 

Dr. Lisa Damour chronicles this brilliantly in her first book, Untangled: the Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood. Damour's first chapter breaks down what happens as a child enters adolescence, and starts the long, painful process of gaining their independence. 

Joining tribes is a perfectly natural part of this process. Your child may have one strong tribe, or they may travel between a couple of tribes. Tribes are formed around social circles - who they eat lunch with, who they play with at recess. For many kids, this can make or break their day.

So what can you do to help your child navigate these tribes?

It's always important to listen. Especially when they are talking to their friends or on the phone or in person. Just let them speak. You'll be amazed at what they will say when they forget that we're there.

Ask them questions about their friends. How's Sally feeling today? Is she still struggling with math class? 

Help them with boundaries. When you have heard them cross the line, you can reaffirm your value system. "I hope you're not talking about your friends like that. If you have an issue with them, I hope you can find a way to process it with them directly rather than by gossiping." 

When is it time to worry? 

When your child doesn't have a tribe. It can be extremely stressful and depressing for your son or daughter when they don't feel like they are fitting in, or if they feel shunned by a tribe, or if their best friend leaves them for another tribe.

When your child is being bullied. Bullying is repeated, unwanted behavior. This can happen within the tribe. It depends on the leader. Sometimes a student is so attached to remaining with their "friends" that they will accept abusive behavior because they are terrified of being kicked out or shunned by the group. 

When your child is doing the bullying. Bully behavior is often learned. Sometimes children "go along with the group" because they want to fit in. 

What solutions do you have? 

If you witness your child experiencing any of these tendencies it is time to call your child's advisor. Get them involved. Your advisor is the first line of communication. They are your child's advocate and will work hard to get you the support you need. If and when the situation needs to be elevated, your grade level team leader is a big resource for creating solutions (see list below). And finally, my door is always open. As Head of Student Life, I work daily with advisors, grade level team leaders and parents to support our students. 

Please remember that we are your partner in parenting. We are here to support you and your child and provide them with an excellent learning environment. 

Grade Level Team Leaders:

3/4/5 Josiann Trainor

6 Emily Dolan

7 Michelle Gallivan

8 Jennifer Kuehn

9 Dr. Robert Simms

10 Dr. Regina Sullivan

11 Rob Lamb

12 Bret Thibault





  • Advisors
  • Friends
  • Grade Level Team Leaders
  • Social Emotional Learning
  • student life
  • Teens
  • Tribes
  • Tweens
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