Kids and their best friends

friendsI was interviewed quite a few months ago for a piece that just came out in The New York Times. The writer wanted to find out if children still had traditional best friends, and what she ended up uncovering, I think, is quite controversial. It seems many schools are actively discouraging, in fact purposely separating, best friends.

The piece is called A Best Friend, You Must Be Kidding, and although I think the writer used my information nicely to introduce her subject, I was blown away at the turn the article takes. I’d be curious to know if Hilary Stout, the writer, ended up writing a very different piece than she intended to.

My boys go to a school that I really like. We have a principal that knows each kid by name, knows me by name, and is fair and reasoned. We have teachers that are experienced and supported by the administration and the parents. And even in a district like ours, I get frustrated over the decisions that end up being taken out of the parents’ or the kids’ hands because it’s easier to make a blanket rule in case a few parents can’t be trusted to raise responsible children. I haven’t seen the best friend issue come up at our school, but there have been other things that have frustrated me.

I know this is off topic from my usual green-fare, but I thought I’d bring it to your attention because one, I’m in the first paragraph and that’s a little cool, and two, I’m interested in your opinions.

  1. It does all sound a bit nanny-state-ish, but then my teachers in Primary School in the 70s used to separate friends. Every couple of months they would rearrange the classroom and seating arrangements.

    I felt able to have best friends, then close friends, then friends, then kids that I would hang with. We would roam in packs of 30 or more, and rubbed along quite happily despite the fact that there were always people within that pack who couldn’t stand the sight of each other.

    I’m broadly in agreement with the guy in the article who says that kids need to experience all different types of relationships. If you grow up thinking that everyone likes you and you need to like everyone then you’re going to be very confused as an adult!

  2. This story struck me as weird when I first read it, so I did some investigating, and it seems that the premise is completely false. Please check out my blog post at

  3. Not sure if it’s that big of a deal. Friends are friends for many reasons and usually, uptight teachers or principals can’t really change that relationship.

    I’m more interested in how I feel about my kids’ friends. I’m very particular about that.

    There’s an old saying that says you’ll grow into the type of person you hang around and think like the books you read.

    As a parent, these are my responsibility – not the teachers’. If they have policies that separate BFFs, then fine. But I’m sure there is an inappropriate level that it can be taken to and probably will eventually.

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