Besties or Groupsies?

Posted by on June 25, 2010

bestfriendsShould Adults Be Tinkering with Kids’ Friendships?

I just read an interesting post today on Blogher about kids and best friends. In a nutshell, some don’t think it’s healthy for kids to have strong friendships with one person or, I suppose, a limited number of people and that adults (teachers, camp counselors etc) should intervene (by separating them) and encourage more group interaction.

On one hand, I understand this. My daughter, who is almost ten, has always had a small coterie of BFF’s (depends on the week which one is THE BESTEST) but these friendships are very important to her and can be rather intense at times, especially as they start to get older.  I always encourage her to make multiple friends in her classes each year because you know, putting all your eggs in one basket can lead to disappointment in a numerous ways, but alas, she doesn’t listen. She’d rather have a lesser amount of really good friends than a stable of “meh” friends. While I totally get this, I still can’t help but occasionally encourage her to be more group-oriented. It just seems more sensible, even though, at heart, I know it’s not her thing.

She and I are are, in many ways, cut from the same cloth. I, too, prefer a few really good friends to a group of “meh” friends. I like knowing that my besties are trustworthy and we are always there for each other, rain or shine. You just can’t say that about a group of people that you haven’t totally bonded with over tears and confidences and private jokes that don’t make sense to anyone else. My dearest friends make me feel secure and loved and we always have each other’s backs. You just can’t get that from a larger group, especially not a group of females (no offense to my gender but seriously, groups of women are just… *shudder* Do I really have to explain?) My nearly lifelong BFF and I have been through all kinds of stuff together, good and bad, and trust me, no group of people could ever trump 32 years of one-on-one friendship.

That said, I’m not so sure that forcing kids, especially girls, away from their closest friends, and into group-oriented situations, is such a good idea. Not everyone is cut out for that and some people just don’t dig groups and the resulting group dynamics *raises hand* And regardless of whether you hire a “friendship coach” (yes, you read correctly) introverts (and/or those who simply prefer quality over quantity) will never become extroverts and nor should they have to—because really, how much would the world suck if we were all exactly the same?

Ultimately, we can advise them, we can guide them and we can try to get kids to have more than one BEST friendship but I think that’s where it needs to stop.

I say let kids choose how they want to roll—a few close friends or a ton of acquaintances—they’re going to gravitate to their comfort zone and we should respect that. I know if I was forced to do the big group thing on a daily basis with a bunch of women (and believe me, I have—groups of men are far preferable) I would ultimately be miserable and I would hate to think that, in the name of “helping” we end up making kids miserable, too.


9 Comments

  • Diana says:

    Amen, amen, A-freakin-Men!
    .-= Diana’s last blog post…On Being Entitled to Opinions =-.

  • SciFi Dad says:

    I think children’s friendships will ebb and flow with time. My daughter (5) has a “best friend” (a neighbour who’s also in her class) as well as a circle of lesser (meh) friends. Sometimes, she doesn’t even play with the bestie (although usually that’s the other girl’s doing as she’s more aloof) and goes through phases where she plays with different groups of kids.

    Ultimately, I think kids will go through periods of extreme closeness with one or two peers, then migrate to a larger group where they may develop new close friendships. Personally, I think it’s normal to have 1-2 VERY close friends and then a handful of other friends, and then a larger circle of acquaintances.
    .-= SciFi Dad’s last blog post…Keyword Madness XVII =-.

  • Apryl's Antics says:

    I agree. Plus, they really end up doing what they want anyway. :) LYLAS!

  • Obviously there is a huge invisible disclaimer about toxic relationships and danger and what-have-you but basically I think most things in parenting go like this:

    Your responsibility is to open doors and provide exposure to as many healthy things people as possible and allow your child the freedom to evolve and make choices based on their own instincts and individual character.
    .-= Jennifer June’s last blog post…Give me a break- please =-.

  • I don’t think having a “friendship coach” available is an entirely bad idea.

    My mom is socially awkward, so I really could have used some help in this department growing up… especially when things ebbed rather than flowed. My parents never really understood what the big deal was. Seeing friendships as burdens, they considered it weak and stupid to need others in my life. For an extrovert like me, it was agony to not be active and social. So, I guess it goes both ways.
    .-= Formerly Gracie’s last blog post…Letter to My 20-Something Self =-.

    • IzzyMom says:

      In some ways I agree that a friendship coach can be helpful to the socially awkward, being that I, myself, was that way as a kid (particularly in groups) as long as they don’t try to make kids be something they’re not—but advising kids on what they can do to ease their own discomfort is certainly not a bad thing.

  • I think kids are going to gravitate to what comes naturally, regardless of which way we might “lure” or “force” them. My daughter has usually gravitated to the new kids, the underdogs, and the “not-that-popular” crowd. She always wants to make sure that everyone has at least one friend; her group consists of what I call The Gang of Four (the zany one, the funky one, the sweet one, and the smart one). My son has just one good friend. He doesn’t seem to be interested in cultivating lots and lots of friendships. Both of my kids are content to be homebodies. My daughter will begin high school next month and will be in marching band, so she’ll meet lots of new people. My son is training for his black belt test in the fall; most of his buddies are fellow martial artists.
    .-= Desert Songbird’s last blog post…If You Thought I Was Back =-.

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