When Bad Things Happen to Good Relationships

Conflict occurs over things you least expect. Here's what you can do.

One of our family scrapbooks contains a note written many years ago by our daughter's best friend, Cindy. It was written when the girls were both 8 years old and inseparable. They walked to school together every morning, enjoyed frequent sleepovers, and consulted one another on homework assignments each night.

Then one day a tiny incident stressed their friendship. Our daughter, becoming impatient when Cindy would not walk fast enough on the way to school, called her a slowpoke.

It was impulsive, a bad choice of words. One can only guess what it may have meant to Cindy. At any rate there was instant enmity between the girls. That evening there was no collaboration on homework. An upcoming sleepover was canceled. And the following morning the girls walked to school by different routes.

A day later a note, the one in our scrapbook, came in the mail. Addressed to our daughter, it read: "You called me a slowpoke, and I am angry at you. Your no longer friend, Cindy." Could Cindy ...

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