Should children have best friends?

Keith Still, a mother of three, is filling in for Theresa Giarrusso today.

Best Friends. Whether they’re called a BFF, a best buddy, an old-school blood brother or some other name, most children know there’s a difference between an acquaintance, a friend and a best friend by the time they reach Kindergarten.

While children are capable of being friends with lots of different kids, they tend to gravitate toward and spend more time with those with whom they have the most in common. Often, that results in kids pairing up into “best friends” – the friend who understands them most, listens, provides a reality check or just has their back.

I can still remember the name of every one of my “best friends” growing up. In the little half-day Kindergarten I attended in 1976, my BFF was a girl called Holly, who sat behind me in Miss Carol-Anne’s classroom. We would share animal crackers for snack and read Weekly Readers together.

In grammar school, I was best friends first with Coley and then with Nicole. When I began high school in 8th grade, I became immediate best friends with Lisa. We chatted for hours on the phone together. We spent virtually every weekend at each other’s houses. We laughed at the silliest things, talked about boys, and later “cruised” around Stone Mountain driving her mother’s minivan. Even though I always had a best friend, I also maintained other good friendships and would socialize with a large group of friends throughout my youth.

Today, my three daughters have their own best friends – and they too, will hang out in larger groups as well.  

Like any close relationship, best friends have their ups and downs; their ins and outs; and sometimes, their break-ups. Even with the rough patches, the special bond that draws children together in close friendships is so natural that most people hardly question it.

Until now, that is. Last week, the New York Times reported that some schools and camps are not only beginning to question whether children should have best friends, but they are also encouraging teachers to monitor best buds for signs of exclusive behavior. Some camp counselors are beginning to separate the friends so they can get to know other kids at camp.  From the article:

“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.”

Some of the educators say they monitor duos of best friends in an effort to prevent strong friendships from hurting others’ feelings or disrupting the classroom. They worry close friendships could lead to exclusive behavior, cliques or even bullying. To discourage this kind of thing, the educators encourage students to make friends with everybody.

EVERYBODY? Really?  Sometimes kids just want to hang out with each other. You can’t force people to be friends or share the same interests – and seriously, why would you want to? Don’t we also like to revel in our diversity?

If a child is misbehaving, bullying or otherwise acting outside the bounds of socially-acceptable behavior, then parents, educators, counselors, etc. should step in and take control of the situation. But merely having a best friend shouldn’t raise a red flag. That’s not anti-social behavior; that’s normal behavior.  

Forcing friendships on children who wouldn’t normally get along, or forcing two friends to ignore their real bond, is abnormal, though – something psychologists in the New York Times article pointed out:

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?

“No one can teach you what a great friend is, what a fair-weather friend is, what a treacherous and betraying friend is except to have a great friend, a fair-weather friend or a treacherous and betraying friend,” said Michael Thompson, a psychologist who is an author of the book “Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children.”

“When a teacher is trying to tone down a best-friend culture, I would like to know why,” Dr. Thompson said. “Is it causing misery for the class? Or is there one girl who does have friends but just can’t bear the thought that she doesn’t have as good a best friend as another? That to me is normal social pain. If you’re mucking around too much in the lives of kids who are just experiencing normal social pain, you shouldn’t be.”

Should children have best friends? What are the advantages and disadvantages to having a best friend?

Do your kids have a BFF? What would you do if your child’s school or camp tried to “break up” your son or daughter’s close friendship?

53 comments Add your comment

Andrea

June 23rd, 2010
7:32 am

I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a best friend. My children have them. My daughter has a BFF and my son has a best bud. There is nothing wrong with it. I have a problem with trying to force everyone to be friends. It is unrealistic. You should not be expected to hold hands and sing “We Are the World” with every person you meet.

At some point in life, these children will realize that everyone does not deserve a front seat in your life. Some are just meant for the peripheral views. Others are just meant not to be there at all.

Any camp or school that tried to tell my child who his/her friends should be would get a reminder from me that my child(ren) have parents that are willing and able to assist in that area. While I would appreciate the concern, unless my child is being disruptive or causing real harm to another child, I would not accept a camp or school interjecting in that area.

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LM

June 23rd, 2010
8:01 am

How odd… why would anyone want to discourage close friendships?

My daughter has only had a few friends during her childhood, none were close and she didn’t hang out with them on weekends or after school, unlike me and my childhood friends. She is by nature not a social person and I worried about her and how she would adapt in high school and into adult. Then I came to realize that is her personality and I should not make it a problem, when it was not one for her. She is friendly and has girl friends she likes but she does not “need” to be with them day and night. As she got older I realized she is very much like my mother who would love to be a recluse and not have to have social interaction if she could avoid it. My Mother has never had a best friend has no need to socialize and is very happy to be by herself.

However I would never discourage kids from having a “best friend”. From my personal experience, friends even as adults can be your one saving grace, the person you can turn to when life just sucks and they can hold your hand, help you see the light at the end of the tunnel, or laugh and show you the funny side of life, cry right along with you.

Kathy

June 23rd, 2010
8:03 am

I agree with Andrea. It is completely unrealistic to be friends with everybody. We are teaching our daughter (who is 5 now) that in life you are not going to like/be friends with everyone you meet. You need to be respectful and polite towards people that you don’t necessarily like, but you don’t have to play with or hang out with that person.

MomOf2Girls

June 23rd, 2010
8:08 am

I think as long as a good balance is struck, and the friendship isn’t damaging to either child or their peers, BFs aren’t a problem. I do think, especially with younger kids, the relationship needs to be monitored by the parents to make sure they aren’t being mean to other kids (not just exclusionary, but really being mean), and that the relationship is a healthy one (not feeding off each other in a bad way).

I don’t agree with the “be friends with everyone” thing. I always tell my girls “you don’t have to be friends with everyone (in fact likely won’t be), but you do have to be nice to everyone and treat them with respect”.

@Andrea, I agree with you about everything, and I would add something. I would want the camp / school to let me know if they see something they don’t think is appropriate, and then I can get involved and make my own decisions.

Like I said, a good, healthy balance.

Robin

June 23rd, 2010
8:31 am

I agree with what has been pointed out thus far – that you don’t have to cultivate friendships with everyone that you meet. Kids needs to learn that everyone you meet is not going to be your friend, and in turn there are going to be people that don’t like you. That must be such a hard concept for kids, especially in society today.

I think the problem we face today is alot of self absorbed, rude and uncivilized adults are teaching (handing down) THEIR social skills (or lack of) to their children. Even my mother says my kids face many more social challenges than I ever did.

Every generation is different, but I really do feel (and fear) for my kids. Our forced melting pot society and political correctness are true challenges as well.

FCM

June 23rd, 2010
8:43 am

I would not be the person I am today if it had not been for my best friends. Even though we grew apart as we got into our adult lives…though I know that does not always happen.

Lisa, I met in ES. We talked boys, clothes, school, everything. Until after HS. Then we drifted apart. Sure we have emailed a few times since then. It’s just our paths don’t cross so much now.

Les I met when I was in 8th grade. Not a love relationship. A true deep down friendship. We talked politics, we talked relationships, we talked work, we talked about EVErYTHING. We remained good friends more than 20 years after we met. Never was sure why that relationship drifted apart. I do know that if he called today and said he needed help I would be there in heartbeat.

I miss them both. Which makes me truly appreciate AND work hard on maintaining the few real friendships I do have. Real friends–the one you call when something really bad happens–are very hard to come by.

My kids’ grandmother has been BFF for more than 60 years with a few ladies. Like JJ they get together every year for a girls week or weekend. I admire that, more I admire how hard they have had to work on that with raising families, sick parents, loss of jobs, loss of spouse, and moving around the country.

As to making friends with EVERYBODY? WTH? I don’t believe in bullying but I also don’t believe we all can and will get along. By the end of HS most everyone knows everyone anyway. Encourage social skills, discourage ‘cliques’, and let kids be kids.

workingmom

June 23rd, 2010
9:08 am

I specifically tell my children they don’t have to be friends with everyone, but they certainly have to treat everyone with respect. My daughter (age 10) has already learned some valuable lessons by having a BFF. She “broke up” with her after some very ugly, manipulating behavior on the other girl’s part (not wanting my daughter to be friends with anyone else.) The entire situation was very stressful for her, but she worked through it on her own! What a concept. My duaghter is very social and has a lot of friends. My son, on the other hand, is not. He has had that “one friend” for several years. To take that away from him would leave him with none!

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2010
9:17 am

Wow…this is really something. It seems natural for us to be drawn to certain people that have things in common. I did this when I was young and still do it today. Someone once told me:

“there are folks you can work with, folks you can be friends with and those few who you can do both with…” I have thought about this many times. There are those I am happy to work with but would never socialize with. Those whose company I enjoy but could not work with. Those FEW who fall into both categories.

I had best friends all through school. I still stay in touch with many of them, who live thousands of miles away. As an adult, my friends are more spread out. I have also lost some dear friends and that is sad too. But, I have met new friends. I think we are all drawn to certain qualities and perhaps could see potential friends around us. I think of DB and how I have enjoyed meeting her from this blog. We did not know each other but have enjoyed a very casual friendship, as our thoughts about many things are similar and we have children who are in the same age span.

It fascinates me to read her posts here, as ( many times) I say to myself…”that is what I was thinking too!” only she has said it in a succinct manner. Others here, are not my type but I do read their posts and learn a lot of things about life.

My children have both had a variety of friendships and we have become friends with the parents too. My son is not as social as my daughter. She commented on this recently and I mentioned how he talks to folks all day in the Pharmacy, so it is not like he is a recluse. He is not one to start a conversation, like we both are prone to do!

Today, I am thankful for my friends…both near and far…even the new friends I made last week.

If certain friends are trying to control your children, that should be a red flag ( to me). Some children try to control other children…adults too!

I want my children to have enough self respect to know they have an opinion about things too and that they can choose who to be friends with or not and make new friends as the grow into adulthood. Always being courteous to those around them…unless they are real stinkers! LOL

FYI…I called someone I met in Alaska, yesterday. She told me that her 6 year old was sitting in a wading pool in their back yard, as it was 80 degrees. A moose calf was wandering in from the field towards her daughter, who did not want to share the pool :). I LOVE the stories my new friends share with me!

catlady

June 23rd, 2010
9:18 am

Well, I think it is natural to have a BF or BFs, close people you can turn to and tell your secrets, your joys, your sorrows, your hopes, and your dreams. And I think being friends with everyone should not be the goal, but is being confused with being friendly.

Many of our kids suffer from lack of appropriate friendships and relationships with others. They live in a world of distance–not just the TV, but everything is at arm’s length. They rely on texting, IMing, facebooking, emailing, video games, etc, instead of real person on person contact. So when there is a conflict, they have no clue how to handle it, and resort to inappropriate, sometimes antisocial, behavior. They have little close contact with their parents, their grandparents, their extended family.

Having a friend takes a lot of effort. Too bad we want to discourage that.

TDB

June 23rd, 2010
9:19 am

Yes, children should have best friends. How else can they learn to have close trusting relationships. Kids, today, especially teenagers, do hang out in groups, but they generally have the one go to person that they call on in need. What is fascinating for me is my 17 yo son’s best friend is a girl. They have been friends since they were 10. It is good for him to have her to lean on and get a female perspective, especially when dealing with his girlfriend.

JJ

June 23rd, 2010
9:54 am

This is such a silly topic.

Andrea

June 23rd, 2010
10:06 am

@workingmom: I agree that the kids can resolve their differences on their own (most times). Earlier this year, my daughter and her BFF took “a vacation” from each other – her words, not mine! LOL.

JATL

June 23rd, 2010
10:12 am

OMG -if I EVER have a teacher spout that nonsense to me regarding one of my son’s classrooms, I’ll have to really control myself in order not to slap the stupid out of him/her! OF COURSE kids should have best friends. It’s a natural part of socialization. We have friends and then we have that one person who we just seem to REALLY be in sync with. Sometimes it’s the same person our whole lives, but usually it changes as we go through phases into adulthood. My best friends in my life have been invaluable. They help keep you going and make sometimes difficult situations (you’re hating school for numerous reasons perhaps) bearable. My 4 year old has had a best friend for 2 years now at his preschool. He has lots of friends, and he enjoys playing with lots of boys and girls there and elsewhere, but one little boy and he just really get along and love to play the same way. They delight in seeing one another and ask about each other all the time when there’s a school break. It makes me very happy to see him forming and having the ability to form such a close bond with a non-family member at an early age.

I thought we were on our way out of this crap at school where little Johnny and Susie can’t fail a class or make a bad grade or be made to feel any type of bad feeling because it will hurt their precious self esteem. We should never humiliate kids, and bullying should NOT be tolerated, but part of the value of school is that you learn a lot about society and the way things are in the world, and not everyone is friends with everyone else. The emphasis should be placed on being respectful, graceful and cordial to others. We need to teach our kids to operate on the Golden Rule, and to not say anything if you can’t say something nice to a person. I already try to make my kids aware of the importance of not hurting other’s feelings, but also of the fact that it’s okay if you don’t like everyone or want to be friends with everyone. Quite honestly the way some kids behave -I think the MOST valuable thing they may learn in school is that, if they continue to behave the way they do, NO ONE will like them and they won’t have any friends. Just because mommy and daddy think you hung the moon doesn’t mean anyone else will if you’re a brat.

HB

June 23rd, 2010
10:21 am

This is so sad to me. While I think it’s fine to encourage everyone to get to know each other and be friendly (and hope that will help kids learn how to get along pretty well with those they find they don’t like even if they never really become friends), to discourage close friendships strikes me as incredibly harmful. They’re teaching kids that their lives should be filled only with acquaintances that they like well enough but shouldn’t form a strong bond with.

I do think some (often shy) children become attached to just one or two friends and should be encouraged to branch out and get to know others and could benefit from being separated from each other now and then. I was a camp counselor and we used to do that sometimes — purposely put a pair who never talked to others on separate kickball teams some days, etc. But we NEVER wanted to discourage them from being BFFs — we just tried to put them in situations here and there (usually an hour-long activity) where they couldn’t cling only to each other. And we never did it in situations where they otherwise would get to choose who they were with — we wouldn’t try to separate them during meals, at the pool, or during craft time, for example. Only times when we were assigning groups and could separate them without it looking like we were purposely doing it. It seemed to work. When they were back together, often we’d see the pair talking to new friends one or the other made instead of always being off by themselves.

Robin

June 23rd, 2010
11:47 am

In my experience the one segment BFF’s have become a huge problem is with pre-teen girls and the “mean girl” syndrome. Those years were nightmarish for my 17 y/o daughter (and our family)and the effects of the fallout still linger on today. My daughter has at least one good friend but I would not categorize the girl as her “best”. I find it sad that she keep her at arms length sometimes, probably for fear of being rejected. I think for the most part she handles her friendships and relationships well, but many others do not and that is where the problems arise. The ripple effect is not pretty.

Earlier I had brought up the melting pot and friendships. Long story, short … A good friend’s 11 y/o daughter (I’ll call her Mary) became BF with an Asian girl (Sue) at school. They were tight for a few months but grew apart once Mary started back to spring softball. Well Sue (and others) started to taunt Mary, calling her derogatory names for “leaving” their friendship, even saying they were never friends and she was “just being nice” to her. Sue’s parents somehow got involved and ultimately put blame on Mary, stating they no longer wanted Sue to be friend’s with “Americans” because WE are not nice people. WTH? I kid you not – it was the craziest thing! My once very open-minded friend has changed her perspective on certain issues. I know this is most likely a very isolated example but I think we will face even more of these social challenges in decades to come.

Matthew

June 23rd, 2010
12:08 pm

I have a ten year old daughter who has a best friend. As far as I can see it has been a great benefit to her as well as the parents of the other girl feel the same. Their fourth grade teacher told us it is funny to watch because my daughter loves to talk nonstop, while the other girl would be happy to go an entire day without saying a word. They have helped each other by bringing each other more towards center. Because of this friendship it caused my daughter to make peace with another girl because the third girl was still friends with with my daughter’s BFF. It taught my daughter a valuable lesson- relationships are more important than most disagreements over issues that have long ago been forgotten. I really believe children would be better off if adults would limit their intervention.

DB

June 23rd, 2010
12:12 pm

I’m with JATL — if someone had ever monitored my kids’ friendships to break up close friendships, I’d have come out swinging!

Everyone needs a special someone, someone you can tell your deepest darkest secrets and dreams to, someone who “has your back,” someone you know, whose behavior you can predict, and who you can count on. I can think of nothing more isolating that being acquaintances with lots of people, and a close friend to none. That doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly to a wide range of people — but you have to learn how to “attach” (and, unfortunately, sometimes, how to un-attach) from people in order to form strong adult relationships.

I’m still close friends with two BFs from 3rd grade. We don’t have a lot in common these days, as our lives took very different directions — but I know I could call D or T at 4 AM in the morning with a problem, and they would be there for me instantly, as I would for them! And my daughter has had a BF since she was 5 — my “next-door-daughter”. They are like sisters — they love each other, sometimes they squabble, but they are always each other’s fiercest defender. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have other close friends — but their friendship is a steady constant in their lives.

DB

June 23rd, 2010
12:15 pm

@MJG: Back atcha!

What is a....

June 23rd, 2010
12:18 pm

…squabble? Or, since they “love each other”, maybe I shouldn’t ask…

FCM

June 23rd, 2010
12:23 pm

OK here is a random thought…what are we really teaching by not having BFs? That “special” relationships aren’t important? That being intimate in an emotional/mental way is not important? You know where this leads right? Why get married? Why commit to just one person? Heck why commit at all to anything?

Danger Will Robinson, DANGER!

DB

June 23rd, 2010
12:24 pm

squabble:
–verb (used without object)
1. to engage in a petty quarrel.

MomsRule

June 23rd, 2010
12:25 pm

Your sentence: “they tend to gravitate toward and spend more time with those with whom they have the most in common” — this is human nature. No further discussion required.

Be friends with everybody? That is beyond stupid. I refuse to be friends with some people. The fact is there are personality traits that I despise. Why on Earth would I expect my kids to be friends with everyone? Heck I wouldn’t even encourage it. Some people (kids and adults alike) are beyond yucky.

If a teacher, camp counselor or anyone else tried to discourage or break up a close friendship I would immediately put that person in his or her place. Their place most certainly is not chosing my kids social circle.

HB

June 23rd, 2010
12:45 pm

“OK here is a random thought…what are we really teaching by not having BFs? That “special” relationships aren’t important?”

Worse than that, FCM. Actively discouraging close friendships does not just teach that close relationships are unimportant, but that they are actually a bad thing that likely will lead to hurting others.

JJ

June 23rd, 2010
1:19 pm

I work with a guy who has absolutely NO FRIENDS. He is a jerk, an ass and VERY difficult to work with. He believes he is the center of the universe. He never talks about previous friends, relationships, etc. I think he was a loner as a child, and now is unable to contribute to society. Everywhere he goes, he starts fights with people, because they “are stupid”. No one in my office likes him, but unfortunately, we all have to put up with him.

I think I’m happier because of the influence of my friends throughout my life, and the different perspectives each brings to the table on many subjects. I know I have been educated by many of them, pursuaded by a few. I wonder how dull my life would be without my friends….

I have numerous BEST friends, the ones I can talk to about ANYTHING. The ones I can call at 3 in the morning if I need to talk to someone. One I have known since 9th grade, two I have known since I was 19, and the other is a male co-worker who is 12 years younger than me.

I found out who my true friends were when I married a black man. They stood with me at my wedding, and supported me through a horrible divorce, and they are still here!!!!! And they love me unconditionally!!!!!

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2010
1:48 pm

@ JJ…I am really confused about your posts. At first, you pitched in: this is such a silly topic. Later, you added some very good points about friendships and how they shape our lives.

That ( I believe) is the point of introducing any topic. As I have said before, there are days I I may think the topic is silly but I try to sit back and wait to see what others add OR I just leave it alone, as it is not in my thought process nor experiences.

I recall a verse from the Bible that sorta says: A MAN WHO HAS FRIENDS MUST SHOW HIMSELF FRIENDLY….or something like that. Seems like that still applies today.

Wayne

June 23rd, 2010
2:00 pm

@JJ: That guy work in IT?

MomOf2Girls

June 23rd, 2010
2:22 pm

Hey @Wayne – I resent your insinuations :-)

Not all of us in IT are anti-social rejects that live in our parents’ basements and play D&D all night. Some of us have a redeeming quality or two besides our ability to translate zeros and ones into programs that can fly a space shuttle!

I’ve been following the blog, and I have to wonder – why is it that if we are all in agreement on that this wrong, things have gotten to the point where this is where we are heading? Are we here in the minority, or are the people responsible for our children during the day that out of touch with reality?

Wayne

June 23rd, 2010
2:26 pm

@MomOf2Girls: I’ve been in IT for longer than I care to admit. However, I know lots of guys that think they know IT that act like that!

Wayne

June 23rd, 2010
2:29 pm

Microsoft touts that two of their products (Vista and Office 2007) were vetted by ‘users’ and how great they are because of that. I dunno the users they checked with with regard to Vista, but I wasn’t one of them.

Nobody checked with me with regard kids having BFF’s.

In both cases, I would have told them how wrong they were.

Wayne

June 23rd, 2010
2:32 pm

“with regard to kids”

MomOf2Girls

June 23rd, 2010
2:45 pm

@Wayne – I hope you know I’m joking!

And you bring up a good point. Who made this decision and why? Who did they talk to? I don’t see anything in the article that talks about the process that went into making this decision / statement.

penguinmom

June 23rd, 2010
3:09 pm

@Momof2girls – I think the problem is how out of touch with reality many of those high up in education are. Most teachers who interact with kids on a day to day basis are pretty grounded, but those who move up into the upper echelons of education often lose that grounding.

I think some of it comes down to personality. My son has always had a list of ‘best friends’. These are a group of kids he enjoys hanging out with. While there may be one or the other he gravitates to more, he’s pretty happy to hang out with any of them. He feels that he can rely on the group in general. When he was younger, he did have a friend who was closer to a best friend but was hurt when that friend decided my son wasn’t ‘cool’ enough to hang out with anymore. Their interests had diverged pretty significantly and I was fine with the relationship cooling off.
On the other hand, my daughter has a BFF who she enjoys spending time with more than any other friends. While she does have a larger group of friends that she likes, her BFF is the one person she gravitates to whenever they are together.

I think the key thing is to make sure kids are able to develop deeper friendships and learn to navigate the ins and outs of being a good friend. This can be done with a single person or with a small group. Adults need to be available to help when asked but not to interfere in every circumstance. Parents also need to help their kids learn to be kind to everyone even if they are not your BFF.

Wayne

June 23rd, 2010
3:23 pm

@MomOf2Girls: oh yeah, I knew that.

I still know some guys like that though. Drives me a bit nuts.

JJ

June 23rd, 2010
3:24 pm

MGJ – that’s ok, your incredibly LONG, multi-paragraph posts confuse me too……

Hey, JJ...

June 23rd, 2010
3:26 pm

…the description of your co-worker pretty much describes me, yet I am somewhat sure that you and I do not work in the same office.

As I tell those who work for me _ “I am either a dumb A– or a smart A–”, but there is one constant in either situation……

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2010
3:29 pm

@penguinmom…you hit the nail on the head. Those who sit in offices and perhaps do research are often not in the daily trenches and thus do not always see how theories pan out.

Kinda like those who have a degree in say horticulture or botany and farmers who have been growing crops for years. It takes a balance of knowledge and experience. My clients nearly ALWAYS tell me, ” we can tell you really work with children….based on the observations and ideas you share.”

I do not want to start a fire today but parenting opinions ( to me) are validated by those who are actually parents.

I can give you my opinions about the MARTA in Atlanta but since I rarely ride it, they are not too valid.

I have said this before, I know a lot of cats and some things about them but I do not nor ever have owned one….so my opinions and ideas about cats are not the same as those held by cat owners and lovers of many years.

To me, being in touch with reality is about being in the midst of things. Every person cannot be in the midst of every thing…they may have an opinion but how focused is it?

There were those I met last week, on the west coast, who really had no idea how devastating the oil spill was here in the gulf and also exactly what beaches it would impact. WE in Atlanta, are probably not on top of things that may happen out there either. When you are IN the picture, your opinion does change. Some faculty, have not been IN the classroom in years and THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

I have not been a parent to an infant in WAY too many years, so I will bow to those who are still in the middle of night feedings and diapers….good luck…lol!

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2010
3:33 pm

LOL…@ JJ it is MJG…try not to be confused o.k.? Some folks do not understand me nor I them. Some here can figure out what I am trying to say and some cannot…it’s all good. Was that short enough?

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2010
3:51 pm

Hey Wayne…off topic but we had chowder everyday while out on the coast in Oregon. It was all white chowder with potatoes and such. Do you know if it is any different than that served in New England? I do also like Manhattan Clam Chowder but prefer New England. My daughter and I are looking forward to a few days in Boston.

Sorry for so many posts…I will leave you guys alone!

FCM

June 23rd, 2010
4:20 pm

“Are we here in the minority, or are the people responsible for our children during the day that out of touch with reality?”

How about both? There are a great many people out there willing to let others do their thinking for them. I will not get started on the number of people involved in daycares etc that are out of touch. Yes, I know teachers see a gazillion kids a day etc and so they know more than me….what I see are SOME teachers who really do think they know best to the point that the discount the parents period. Teachers have the same bad habit everyone else I know does: they cannot turn off that part of their being…I cannot stop being analytical and they cannot stop teaching. So they feel they have to “teach” the rest of us how to raise kids. The BEST teachers I have found do teach me to be a better parent, but they do it by listening and encouraging me to parent, not tell me why/how they could do it better than I do.

HB

June 23rd, 2010
4:27 pm

“Those who sit in offices and perhaps do research are often not in the daily trenches and thus do not always see how theories pan out.”

Um, except that, according to the article, in this case it’s the ones in the trenches–teachers, school counselors, and camp counselors–who are discouraging best friends. The researchers in the ivory towers are the ones saying to leave the kids alone to form their own bonds.

btwnchildhoodandmotherhood

June 23rd, 2010
4:36 pm

Boy, did this post ever get me hot! Are you kidding me?? You know, it’s bad enough that society is trying to standardize every aspect of children’s lives (i.e. those totally rad CRCT standards), but now they’re trying to regulate basic social development? Give me a break. Parents, wake up and realize you cannot sanitize every aspect of you child’s life to make up for all the childhood pain and rejection that sent you into therapy. That’s just life. As Woody Allen said about life in ‘Annie Hall,’ “Full of loneliness and misery, and it’s all over much too quickly.” Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point. That’s life. You had to deal with it, and your kids will too, and guess what? They will be fine. That’s what therapy is there for anyway!

But really, I am not yet a parent, and I am sure it hurts to see your kid upset over a few of their social interactions (I was a kid only a few years ago, and I know I had my share of so and so doesn’t want to be my friend anymore), but for heaven’s sake! You can’t take away pain, let alone the concept of a best friend. That’s one of the biggest parts of childhood.

And mark my words, I will never send my kids to any kind of camp/school that tries to ban best friends and rip kids away from someone they feel close to, just so some poor shmuck doesn’t get hi feelings hurt. I mean, that is just communist. It is!

Don't worry about this teacher!

June 23rd, 2010
4:44 pm

Don’t worry about this teacher trying to break up your kids’ BFFs – I have neither the time nor the inclination to get that involved. This is one of the stupider things I’ve seen out of the ivory towers in awhile. Thank goodness mine are done!

Darvis

June 23rd, 2010
4:49 pm

I see nothing wrong with B.F.F.’s. I graduated college in 1982 and have continued to maintain contact with a B.F. I met there. We live a good distance from each other but have had a relationship that I believe will last forever. It’s a blessing to have best friends.

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2010
4:58 pm

HB….OOOPS…sorry to be such a dingbat….I assumed this person ( mentioned in the article as Director) was not sleeping in the cabins nor standing in the lunch line with the campers or even pitching in with KP…guess I could certainly be wrong:

“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.”

Maybe she WILL be zipped in a sleeping bag with a frog in her pillow, on a cabin bunk bed, tonight!

Sometimes lowly teachers do know a thing or two but the powers that be have other agendas and then, in order to keep their jobs, they have to comply. It is hard to navigate on a river when the boat you have is not applicable BUT it can be done.

The thing I see ( and hear from teachers) the most of today, is a lack of parenting skills. When parents do not take time to model appropriate behavior including friendships and how to navigate them, children cannot know this on their own. When children are pooled together without certain social skills, conflict is evident. Sometimes the solution given does not really solve any problems at all ( simply a temporary avoidance)…this is what I see as a “no best friends solution.”

Teachers, across the country, often tell me that the parents who truly need help are the ones who tend not to want to listen. Those who are consistent about coming to hear guest speakers speak on parenting, are those who are usually already good parents and know what to do…just need a little reinforcement.

Of course, there are lots of wonderful parents who still understand that their primary job is to teach their children life skills…thanks to those of you who do!

Sorry JJ if that all confused you.

FCM

June 23rd, 2010
5:12 pm

MJG I do not think I need to sit in on a parenting speaker where the teachers can see me to be a positive influence in my kids life. It’s like church…is God taking attendance or does he truly know my heart and actions?

Same thing…I can attend church or speakers (on parenting) because I feel the need to do it. Or because I find the time to do it. On the other hand I can read parenting books and theology (and do) and hopefully put some it into action in my life. Either way how does it matter if other people see me do this? The real proof is in how the kids turn out…not necessarily how they act right now…because I will tell you very plainly: There are times I do not want to admit they are my kids because they are acting up! In those times I do get to suffer the embarassment of removing the child from public view…so does that make me a bad parent (after all the child is being a PITA) or a good parent (I removed them)? As parents we can only “teach” so much…we still have to rely on the child to put it into action: ie not act like a moron in public. I refuse to soley be judged in my parenting by my child acting like a moron or not–now if they do misbehave and I fail to take action then I would be a bad parent.

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2010
5:32 pm

FCM…I think you missed my point.

Yes, all of our kids will be absolute TOOTS sometimes. Mine included. The days when others compliment me on my children are the days I think, “I might be doing something right.” Sometimes I even wonder whose kids they are talking about…could they be mine?

No it is not required to attend parenting seminars to be a good parent. Our great grandparents never had such things but they did have common senses and consequences. Teachers have however told me that the parents who need to attend the seminars ( to learn a few new tricks) are usually not the ones who actually show up. I am just passing along what I have been told. Not trying to scold anyone. As the saying goes…”if the shoe fits..wear it…”

THIS, TO ME, IS YOUR MOST VALID POINT:
The real proof is in how the kids turn out

Yes, those who have grown kids have been on the sidewalk longer than some of the rest of us and can share tidbits of wisdom from personal experience. I am not there yet. I listen to those who are.

Re: church….God is not taking attendance….IMHO. He does like to see his own children once in a while. Some may manage to drop in once every 6 weeks or so….some twice a year.

My son is moving out again this week to his own apartment. I hope he finds our family relationship more important than a 4-5 time per year visit.

You make time for what is important to you!

HB

June 23rd, 2010
5:37 pm

Ok, well now I’m really confused, since I’m not sure where I implied that the head guidance counselor at a private school in St. Louis was sleeping in cabins or doing KP (?!), but whatever. My point is that researchers in offices and ivory towers according to this article are not driving this trend. These are not the educrats and education scholars that people routinely complain about handing down edicts from on high. These decisions, according to the article (feel free to dispute it if you want, but it all I have to go on here), are being made at the individual schools and camps by people who work closely with the children on a daily basis. Psychology scholars who likely don’t work as closely with children on a regular basis are saying let the kids have their best friends.

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2010
6:32 pm

@ HB…is the head guidance counselor IN THERE WITH THE KIDS EVERY DAY or is she mostly in the office? That is what I meant. I read that Christine was the one who was doing the discouraging and methinks she is not sleeping in the cabins with the kids. Is she?

Sometimes those in the offices are making decisions about what happens in the classrooms and they do not even get into those classrooms. I hear this often from teachers who tell me the administration would not last one day in the classroom. Yes, most teachers would not last in the admin office either but without the children in the classrooms, there would not likely be admin….just a thought.

KP…is kitchen patrol…also known as cooking/doing the dishes…way back in the day…we took turns doing this when we went to camp. Most head guidance counselors (or even kids these days) do not do KP…that would be grunt work. Yes, there are those who are certainly in charge of the grunts…LOL….could tell them how to do their job when they have never themselves touch a potato peeler or dirty dish.

Anyone else out there pull KP besides me?

Team spirit, chain of command, cooperation, problem solving and host of other skills can be learned through KP! Friendships can be formed when everyone has to pitch in and no one is superior! Appreciation for the food brought to the table and the time it took to prepare it can counter act those who turn up their noses when they are not getting a quarter pounder or pizza.

Sorry if this it too deep for some of you…just skip my post and read the ones that make sense to you.

I have done my share of grunt work and always appreciate others who do it for me today.

HB

June 23rd, 2010
9:42 pm

MJG, I know what KP is, thanks, I just didn’t understand what it and sleeping in cabins had to do with a guidance counselor at a school. The person you quoted is the director of counseling (I assume that’s basically the head guidance counselor, but I could be wrong) at a private day school, not a camp and probably not even a place where kids sleepover, so I’m still confused as to why you questionned if she slept in the cabins. And sure it’s possible the guidance counselors at this school spend little time with children, but most I’ve worked with work with kids daily (as have the camp directors I’ve worked with). In any case, they’re much closer to kids than “those who sit in offices and perhaps do research” like the psychology professors quoted.

So again, my point was that the people in offices doing research (psychology professors) quoted in this article seem to share your view, but the people “in the trenches” actually working with children in this particular case do not. I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit into your idea of who would be aligned with your opinion, but that’s what the article says. And there’s really nothing here to imply that most teachers and counselors at the camp and school disagree with their spokespeople quoted here, but if you want to assume that, more power to you.