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.