Best Friends Forever: Got a Problem With It?
I have a best friend, I always have. Sometimes I feel a bit childish introducing her as my best friend. But that is what she is.
We used to say that we met when our mother’s bumped pregnant tummies and we have been best friends ever since. We went to primary school and high school together, although I’m still mad that she abandoned me for grades 7 and 8.
We have each other, but we also have separate friendships. Our careers have wildly diverged and yet we still have so much in common. I look back on my childhood and she was part of almost every memorable moment, or she heard about it afterwards. I can’t imagine how people go through life without a best friend, it just would seem so one-dimensional. How would I know what I felt about something until I spent hours talking about it with my BFF?
So, of course I worry that my kids don’t have best friends. My 10-year old hasn’t yet connected deeply with someone, he hasn’t met his person. But an article from the Toronto Star's parentcentral.ca says that is OK, in fact that is better for kids to have a wide group of friends instead of one bestie. Some counselors and psychologists feel that relying on one person can have “devastating effects” if the friendship falls apart; there is also concern that when kids team up in exclusive pairs it can increase bullying. It is a sign of the times that a camp has even hired “friendship coaches” to help kids negotiate the treacherous area of friends.
It seems strange to me that anyone would counsel against having a best friend. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I didn’t have that one special person to rely on. Our relationship taught me about intimacy, trust and letting my guard down. I believe my friendship with her has made me stronger and a better friend to other people. My friend and I don’t always agree on everything; we have disagreed on small things like shoes to bigger life decisions but it has never altered the relationship.
Right now we are trying to teach our kids that when you are with your real friends you don’t have to put on an act; you can truly be who you are and they will love you for it, and that can be with one person or many. I’ve been lucky I met my BFF early and I have collected a couple more true friends along the way.
This story obviously hits a nerve, there were almost 400 comments on the original New York Times piece and right after Brandi Weikle, the editor of parentcentral.ca put the article on Twitter, there was a discussion about it, with most us agreeing that best friends were more of a do then a don't. Weikle summed it up: (and I am editing so you don't have to read crazy Twitter grammer) that 'the takeaway here is not to worry if your child doesn't have one best friend above the rest as long as they have well-adjusted with friends that they can count on.I would hate to see the BFF pathologized!'
I guess it is a good thing that professionals are now saying that it is OK to not have a best friend, as long as kids are making friends. But I have to admit, I will be a lot happier when each of my kids meets their person who will stick by them no matter what.