Survey results and final thoughts on The End of Best Friends?

Posted: March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

The results are in for the End of Best Friends? poll that was part of a blog post 2 weeks ago, and there really are no surprises.  An overwhelming 83% agreed that regulating or discouraging the pursuit/formation of a ‘best friend(s)’ was not necessary, and a likely over-reaction by the adults, parents and educators who made the suggestion.  Only 10% agreed that discouraging ‘best friends’ would be a helpful step in relational/social formation, and roughly 7% admitted that is was pretty much a non-issue.  Thank you to those that took the time to vote and cast your comments/opinions.  Here are the actual results of the poll;

  • Yes…it will combat cliques & bullying 3.33%
  • No…it’s just over-reaction…we all need 1-2 very close buds 66.67%
  • Yes…kids will learn better social formation in larger groups 6.67%
  • Absolutely not…this is adult interference in kids social lives 16.67%
  • Who cares?…I don’t have a ‘best friend’ and I’m doing fine! 6.67%

For the record, my own personal opinion is that, unless there are substantial factors at play, this is something that should really be a non-issue to worry about from an educational, and parental perspective.  Majority of kids forge into friendships at a natural and healthy pace, and to regulate that would likely be more detrimental than beneficial.  Sure there are some children who are socially maladaptive, and need adult intervention and guidance in their relational pursuits.  But for the large majority, we can’t really place children in a box and control and/or force their friendships…and then expect things to turn out peaches and roses!  I do agree that it is healthy to encourage children to be inclusive in their relationships at school, and in general, but it’s certainly normal for kids to gravitate towards that one or two friends they really hit-it-off with.  As Christians, we should always seek to include others, but even Jesus picked 12 to hang with exclusively.  Within His circle of 12, Jesus had three core relationships apart from the rest (Peter, James, John)…and one even closer in that select group (John).

In most cases, I would suggest that kids who grow through elementary school, and into high school without a ‘best friend’ or two, and only hang out with large groups of friends, likely lack quality depth in relationships.  Not all of them, but most of those probably are surface-level relationships that lack the willingness, opportunity and quality one-on-one time that develops trust, loyalty and confidence we all tend to look for in friendships.  Obviously we don’t want to see kids shutting the doors on other kids (unless there’s some kind of poor behavioral and influence issue), nor do we want our kids to live with the unrealistic notion that every kid in their class will become their very best buddy in life.  But is it possible we can do without the (most often unnecessary) psychoanalysis for every decision kids make so that everyone else around them feels better?  Much of the issue really boils down to the self-esteem of the rest of the group that desires, but lacks that intimate friendship.  It’s probably also one of the reasons that T-Ball leagues don’t keep scores anymore…no winners…no losers…everybody goes home with warm fuzzy feelings and an intact inner ‘bubble’!  But being an ultra competitive guy, I’m the wrong person to ask about that! :)<!– –>

As mentioned in the original post, our kids seem to adapt well in either situation, so we feel no need to coerce in either direction…and I’m ‘assuming’ that most parents also lean this way.  I’m hoping that those who decided to embark on this non-best friend strategy will see that…well…kids are kids, and no two kids are ever quite the same.  Along with the natural path of development, relational bonding tends to fall in place…not always neat and clean…but they work themselves through in the large majority of kids lives. 

I would encourage parents and educators to just let the chips fall where they may, and resist the urge (that most of us have!) to want to control that aspect of our kids social sphere.  In the end, we’ll have a few battles we must engage in for our kids, but I don’t believe this is one of them (outside of the above mentioned influence and behavior concerns in some children).  So why not let ’em play and just let kids be kids…will it really hurt anyone?

Agree…disagree…lemme know your thoughts!

  1. Bety Heppner says:

    Hi Shaun: My daughters they do not seem to engage very easily with friends. They say they have acquaintances, they do not feel that these people in school or other sphere are really friends. But I see that most of her social life is through face book.
    The net has the charm of people being able to communicate but not really to engage and that seem fascinanting for them because they do not really have to be accountable or take responsability it seems that there is no consequences.
    My prayer that this generation that is highly influences for the technology will have an encounter with God in the middle of their busy lives because Jesus is the Lord of all and He is and will be in control of all things But yes it is my cry to the Lord that it will be soon.

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