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Is the BFF Extinct?

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Guest blogger Elise: For little girls, having a best friend -- a constant companion to pass notes to at school, giggle with on the phone at night and enjoy slumber parties with -- is a rite of passage that morphs into a tradition carried out well into adulthood.

two girls hugging

Yet the New York Times reported recently that educators are becoming increasingly skeptical about the notion of "best friends." Some are even wondering whether kids should have a best friend at all; they say that the classic bond is a launching pad for cliques and bullying.

"I think it is kids' preference to pair up and have that one best friend," Christine Laycob, director of counseling at the Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School in St. Louis, Mo., told the Times. "As adults -- teachers and counselors -- we try to encourage them not to do that. 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. We say he doesn't need a best friend."

Even though school has ended for the summer, the "anti-BFF" movement will continue as certain camps begin to hire so-called "friendship coaches" to help campers become friends with everyone. (If two girls start to routinely pair off, the coaches will separate them, seating them at different tables at lunch or placing them in different activities.)

But is all this just semantics? No matter what modern lingo educators are trying to impose, kids are still going to form strong bonds with one child over another, no matter what. And those friendships will naturally shift year by year, sometimes even month by month. That's just a part of growing up.

By assuming that BFFs will become modern-day "Heathers," we're ignoring the fact that, simply put, kids are different. Forcefully mixing the quiet kids with the aggressive kids with the brainy kids with the silly kids won't encourage genuine bonds. It will just prevent them from developing their own identities -- a natural process born by being able to choose your own social community. What's more, kids will always turn against each other and form exclusive groups. Not only is that normal, but it prepares for them for the hurdles that come later in life.

When you're a child, school can sometimes feel like a war zone. Soon, your kid may not even have a good friend to count on.

Do you think best friends should be outlawed ... or do you think this idea stinks?

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Black Iris June 22, 2010, 2:47 PM

This is insane and stupid. Having a best friend is a way girls prepare for intimacy later in life. Besides, kids need to figure out socializing on their own at some point without adults running everything.

lissalou June 22, 2010, 5:25 PM

goota love liberals

unknown mom June 23, 2010, 8:48 AM

I think this is stupid too. My daughter had a best friend from age 5 till age 13. They did everything together. They were inseprable. It was like having joint custody with the other family. Every weekend they were at my house or her house for the whole weekend. They also had other friends but primarly they were together alot. We moved to a new town about 15 minutes away from her BFF and my daughter started making new friends in the neighborhood. The other girl started hanging out with another friend of theirs. This past year they have started drifting apart. They still talk every once and a while but its not a daily thing anymore. They still love each other and still call each other best friends. I see no developmental problems in either girl so I think trying to stop girls from being best friends is just stupid. Best friends can be the best thing for a child.

Stacie June 23, 2010, 9:16 AM

From what I’ve seen, most little girls and boys have a best friend when they’re growing up. It does not mean that they’re going to develop into clique leaders—it means that they’ve developed a special bond with another person. I think adults need to stop trying to cultivate problems where there aren’t any. Yes, I think this idea stinks.

Lovey's Mom June 23, 2010, 9:16 AM

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid!!!!! Can I say it again? STUPID! The “coaches” are probably the kids that never had any friends growing up. And one more time -STUPID!

Stephanie June 23, 2010, 9:40 AM

These people are ridiculous. You’ll insist that these kids NOT form a special one-on-one bond w/ another kid, but then later in life insist that they only have one romantic partner. Seems to be a double standard.

Also, @ lissalou- why are you automatically assuming that they’re liberals? I’m a liberal (extremely so) and I find this idea beyond stupid.

tennmom June 24, 2010, 7:59 AM

I’ve had the same BFF since I was 7. We will turn 42 this year.
I’m still very close to 2 other girls I went to junior high school with.
Both of my daughters have several very good friends but, whether we are male or female, I think we all have one friend or two that we click with forever.

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