When I was in school, I encountered plenty of teasing. (Imagine a Kangol hat, suspenders and a tie every day.) But fortunately, I found one best friend, Patty, whom I considered the awesomest girl in the school and who didn't think I was weird. Because of her, the cliques who teased me didn't bother me (I hardly noticed them), school was a happy time for me, and I graduated from middle school pretty unscathed. But had Patty not been there, who knows how depressed or alienated I may have felt?
It pained me to read this article in the New York Times reporting that some school administrators are now discouraging best friends among children, saying it promotes bullying and limits the kids. Says Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis:
“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. Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend. We say he doesn't need a best friend.”
Today, Patty is still my BFF and I have treasured our friendship through every up and down over the last 20 years. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't her to help me ignore the girls who would have been toxic companions. I not only see this BFF-blocking business silly, though -- I don't think it will work. Wild horses couldn't have dragged me away from Patty, or forced me to hang out with a group of girls who weren't into my Kangol hats.
Do your kids have best friends? Are they healthy friendships? Or should kids be forced to mingle in big groups?