Should children have best friends?

Posted by Samantha on May 3, 2013 in Happiness, Over-control, Relationships, Trust |

Onesie TimeEarlier this week I was musing with my husband about whether all this well-meaning parental interference in our children’s friendships was hampering the development of those friendships and in particular, best-friend relationships.

I’ve had plenty of conversations with parents who have said that their children do not yet have a solid best-friend.

I recall that in my school days we made our own (best) friends and our parents facilitated that.

Nowadays I wonder if we haven’t encroached too far into this area of our children’s lives.

For example, I see a lot of parents (and I include myself in this) organising play-dates with multiple friends rather than supporting the development of one very strong friendship.

Then today I read this article on the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22383453

Should children have best friends?  Apparently, led by a concerned head teacher, a school in London is doing all they can to DISCOURAGE best friendships.  Why?  So that children are not hurt by feelings of rejection.

Being mindful of how my actions impinge on you is the essence of the Golden Rule.

Not allowing children to have best friends so that other children are not hurt is taking this idea to a frankly insane level.

For once, I notice that the professional voices quoted in this article (an educationalist, a philosopher and a relationship expert) are in agreement.  And I won’t repeat their excellent points here.

But I will add my voice: as parents, and as teachers, we need to back off and trust that our children will learn to navigate the ups and downs of life – including friendships.

Part of our job as adults is to be there to support them when they fall, not to always make sure they don’t fall.

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