Find me online!

twittergoogle plusemail

June 22, 2010

Best friends - going the way of the dodo?

Almost all of us have one, or at least had one, growing up. That friend who you tell everything, and who tells you everything. Your partner in crime, your soul-sister or brother, that one person who will always be there for you, through thick and thin. The one who will be your Best Man or Maid of Honour (or something really off-beat if you're both different genders) in your wedding. The shoulder you cried on or the laugh that made you feel good even when you were down in the dumps.

How can that be a bad thing?

It seems some educators and child psychologists think that it is.

According to this New York Times article, some educators and child psychologists are trying to discourage kids from having a "best friend."

"Most children naturally seek close friends. In a survey of nearly 3,000 Americans ages 8 to 24 conducted last year by Harris Interactive, 94 percent said they had at least one close friend. But the classic best-friend bond — the two special pals who share secrets and exploits, who gravitate to each other on the playground and who head out the door together every day after school — signals potential trouble for school officials intent on discouraging anything that hints of exclusivity, in part because of concerns about cliques and bullying."

'I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,' said Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis. 'We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.'

'Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend,' she continued. 'We say he doesn’t need a best friend.'"

Colour me flabbergasted (I'm not sure what colour that is, but whatever it is, that's what I look like right now).

Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this?

I am all for inclusiveness, and having a wide circle of friends, and I'm definitely against bullying and cliques. But we are all drawn to certain types of people more deeply than others, somebody we can bond with and form that special relationship that transcends the years. No matter how many friends you have, not all of them are confidantes. Some of them are friends for certain reasons or through certain activities, but you don't share your entire life with them.

Who in their right mind is going to be that way with a whole bunch of people? Are all of these people going to be with you throughout your life? Think of the cost of all the wedding ceremonies! Not to mention how unwieldy your weekend fishing trips will be.

I'm not a child psychologist, and I don't play one on TV either. But this sounds completely wrong to me.

Don't even get me started on the "play date" concept that's also briefly mentioned in the article.

"'I don’t think it's particularly healthy for a child to rely on one friend,' said Jay Jacobs, the camp’s director. 'If something goes awry, it can be devastating. It also limits a child's ability to explore other options in the world.'"

I don't believe this.

Thankfully, not all have sampled this Kool-Aid.

"'Do we want to encourage kids to have all sorts of superficial relationships? Is that how we really want to rear our children?' asked Brett Laursen, a psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University whose specialty is peer relationships. 'Imagine the implication for romantic relationships. We want children to get good at leading close relationships, not superficial ones.'"

Exactly. When you stretch the net too thin, whether it's for fishing or friendship, you're never going to get anything that's really meaningful.

This idea is so disheartening, and yet another way that we're not letting kids be kids anymore. This time, it's not in the name of their physical safety that their growth is being stunted. It's their emotional safety.

If this attitude takes precedence in child-rearing in the near future, I really don't want to be around to see the adults that these kids grow into.


  1. I read this and had the same reaction as you did. Funnily enough, I had written a blog post about how one selects friends ( that morning!

    It's not up to the parents or the psychologists or the educators to make this decision for these kids -- if they naturally feel drawn to someone that they could share not just their secrets with, but also their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and fun stuff that makes them kids -- then who are all these people to object?

  2. I read your comments & can't believe that article. What a way to raise kids. Your comments were right on the money. I can't even think of anything else to say. My mind went blank. I've had a best friend since 8th grade & I don't think I was screwed up. We don't live close now but I still consider her my best friend.

  3. Afraid of cliques and bullying? Thats what best friends PROTECT you from. When you are all alone you fall outside of cliques and an easy target for bullies - Its when you have one that can stand with his/her back against yours and hiss though your teeeth with at those who want to harm you that you are safe.

    Ok, my 'best friend' for 11 years are no longer really what I would call best friend- and we are growing apart.. but when I grew up, she made my life easier and happier and I'd rather do childhood and teens all over again with her then with 1000s of random 'friends' that didnt really know me..

  4. Glad to see I'm not in the minority on this one (not that I had any thought that I would be).

    LittleMuffin, thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you felt moved to leave a comment. I went over to your blog and feel for your situation. Sounds like it will be an interesting one, though.

    Mansi & Mom (wow, sounds like a Las Vegas stage act), thanks for the continued support, especially when you are saying that I'm right. :)

  5. It was well writen with facts and personal opinions and on a subject that was interesting so of course I leave a comment :) I am following you, but you already know - just telling you here 'in public' in hopes of inspiring others :p

  6. ^^^ 'Facts' as news and words that are not your own (I am messing up :p)

  7. Thanks, Cupcake! (and I see you changed your name :))

    Hopefully you will be moved more often. Feel free to check around the site and have fun!

    Oh, one word of warning, though. If you stumble upon one of my one-hit wonders posts, not everything that I say in them is true. Should be obvious, but just want to make sure there are no misunderstandings. :)

    The rest of the time I am being truthful, unless I say something for broad comedic effect, but then I try to make it so outlandish that it's easily understood.

  8. Having 3 girls & seeing them going through the trials of keeping a "best friend" I do understand to some extent what they are's almost like breaking off an engagement. But, I believe kids need to be kids & if that means that they have a friend that they can count on so be it!! It worked well for me!!

    Thanks for sharing Dave,


  9. "the two special pals who share secrets... — signals potential trouble for school officials intent on discouraging anything that hints of exclusivity, in part because of concerns about cliques and bullying."

    Are they serious? What do they know? They don't know me or my friends or even my best friend. To me, this is just another notion of adults trying to run and direct my way of life. I don't agree with anything they have said, as I tell my best friend Megan everything. I'm not superior over her or she is not superior over me. I don't understand how these so called experts can determine bullying among best friends, unless they themselves had a bad friendship in the past. Dictating what happened to them and then directing it at people who have had great friends like myself, they seem lost in their own lil world.

    My dad had a best friend when he was a young boy of 8 years old and he wound up marrying her 10 years later. They shared everything, told each other everything, went everywhere together, and only dated each other. She was my mom, who died some years ago, and they were best buds for over 25 years. They never parted from when he was 8 until the day she died. The so called experts know nothing of what a true and loving best friend is.

    Happy trails Dave!

  10. Hi Bunny!

    I totally share you're opinion on this, but you are misunderstanding a little bit what they're trying to say.

    They're saying that if people pair off and form small groups of really close and tight friends, the ones who are left out will be the ones bullied, as the small groups will see themselves as superior, etc.

    Of course, they're still full of shit, but not for the reasons you think. :)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Bill, I know it can be tough when you're let down by a "best friend," but it also provides another life lesson, something they wouldn't learn otherwise.

    That being said, if it does truly last a lifetime, it's even better.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.