Nixxing Your Child’s Best Friend!

Posted: June 17, 2010 in family law
Best of friends
Image via Wikipedia

I read an interesting article in the New York Times this morning. It began with:

From the time they met in kindergarten until they were 15, Robin Shreeves and her friend Penny were inseparable. They rode bikes, played kickball in the street, swam all summer long and listened to Andy Gibb, the Bay City Rollers and Shaun Cassidy on the stereo. When they were little, they liked Barbies; when they were bigger, they hung out at the roller rink on Friday nights. They told each other secrets like which boys they thought were cute, as best friends always do.

But increasingly, some educators and other professionals who work with children are asking a question that might surprise their parents: Should a child really have 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.

While I agree bullying has increased due to the ways in which our children can now interact with each other, such as texting and online social networks, I think that having a best friend on your side would be the best thing for a child.   Of course, parents should be aware of what their children are doing, which would prevent those that bully from continuing to do so.

Quoted in the article, “Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend. We say he doesn’t need a best friend.”    Are they serious? How does a child learn to form intimate relationships if he doesn’t bond with anyone his own age group? Can you imagine this child as an adult?   He or she will be unable to understand what a true friend is all about, how to interact and share with their partner, spouse or significant other!

Yes, it’s true that having friends can sometimes hurt.   We learn self-esteem and confidence by having a best friend, we also, as many psychologists stated, learn empathy, and the ability to listen and console, the process of arguing and making up.   As the article relates, if children’s friendships are choreographed and sanitized by adults, the argument goes, how is a child to prepare emotionally for both the affection and rejection likely to come later in life?

What do you think? Do you discourage your child from having a best friend? Or are you like me, and think best friends are extremely important.  I couldn’t be happy without my best friend, the person who I can say anything, tell anything and know that, no matter what, I am never judged.  How can that be a bad thing?

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