Christian Parenting and Family Resources with Biblical Principles

Does Your Child Have Prickly Friends?

  • Sandy Coughlin Contributing Writer
  • Published Jan 14, 2011
Does Your Child Have Prickly Friends?

 Do you worry about the friends your kids choose? Are you looking to guide your daughter in developing healthy relationships? 

I spent some time discussing friendship  -- healthy and unhealthy -- with my Balcony Girls recently. We ended up having a great conversation about the topic. Here's a glimpse into what we discussed. Perhaps our discussion will be of help to your family.

Prickly Friends

Have you ever touched a branch from a rose bush? The flowers are pretty but the branch hurts! Prickly Friends are like those branches. A prickly friend could be one of your best friends, but boy their sharpness hurts sometimes. These friendships can wear you out.

Here are some words we brainstormed describing a Miss Porcupine:

  • Moody - up/down; hot/cold
  • Opinionated
  • Easily ticked off - picky
  • Rigid - always in control
  • Bossy
  • Manipulative (striving for control)
  • Makes enemies with her words and moods
  • Critical
  • Whiner (complainer)
  • Judgmental of others
  • Gets mad at you a lot
  • Argues with you a lot
  • Wants to drag you into her drama

Do these words describe a healthy friendship? No. The good news is that another person's bad mood or outlook shouldn't mean you have to have the same outlook in order to be their friend.

Why are our friends prickly? In most cases, they are acting out of criticism or fear. They want to minimize their fears by having control of their worlds. But control is an illusion. The prickly girl often doesn't have a clue she's acting that way! It's just that she's learned to try to control life in this unhealthy manner. Nevertheless, when we encounter a prickly friend, it's important that we don't let her moping bring us down.

What is healthy?

Identifying what a healthy relationship looks like will help us deal with those prickly friendships. A healthy relationship is one in which friends respect each other and can be themselves without constant criticism or correction. A healthy friend builds you up and does not tear down.

A true friend wants the best for you. She wants you to be happy, healthy and fun-loving! Not cynical, critical, and judgmental. Whining and moping are forms of manipulation. They say, "I am not getting what I want here," or "I can't control this situation." Sadly, while whining and moping are attempts to gain control, these cause our prickly friends to lose control. They start to spiral (by words or actions) downward.

What do you do with a Porcupine friend? If you are tired of Miss Mopey, make some changes that are healthy for you and her:

1. Realize your friend isn't necessarily intending to be this way. She probably doesn't even recognize this behavior in herself!

2. Speak the truth in love. Ask her why she is so moody. Be honest with your friend. Tell her you don't like the drama and moodiness and if you can, explain how it alienates her from you and others.

3. When you see the moodiness coming - step away. Give your friend space. As you do this more and more, you might eventually find you're not hanging out with this friend any longer. This doesn't mean she can't be your friend but you have learned boundaries that are good for you (no more drama!).

Remember: prickly people are an opportunity to really use your discernment skills and to exercise patience and acceptance. People aren't always the way we want them to be but we can still deal with them positively.

Moms, try talking with your daughter about prickly friends. You may be surprised at the conversation that unfolds! And last, but not least, if you are like me, I'm sure you've realized by now that you've fallen into the role of being a prickly mom at times. I explained to my girls that even adults can act negatively. Our own wonderful kids have also fallen into the pattern of being Miss Porcupines in some way or another. It's our job as parents to help them, with God's grace, get rid of those traits.

Originally posted January 21, 2008.

Sandy Coughlin is creator of the popular blog Reluctant Entertainer, which she began in 2006 to help women get past their entertaining fears. Sandy has been featured on national media outlets including Dr. Laura, Moody's Midday Connection, Kraft Foods and Family Magazine, Yum Food and Fun Kids and Library Journal. She has also blogged for,,, and other online publications. A busy mom of three teenagers, Sandy is active in various volunteer organizations, and she enjoys hosting parties, cooking, and running. Sandy is married to Paul, and the family practices hospitality in their hometown of Medford, Oregon. Visit Sandy's blog at for more information.