Welcome to LOTS OF LITTLES ... a little blog about this and that.

Friday, October 23, 2009

a little editorial ... best friendship

Ever since Halo was old enough to have friendships and started hearing about "best friends" ... we have counseled her to avoid using the term "best friends". Like most teaching that sticks ... we have talked about it more than once or twice. We have tried to help Halo ~ and now Buddy and Foofie ~ understand why we don't think it's such a good idea. Any belief one holds without knowing why they believe it ... will be a shallow belief. So ... dear readers ... now I will share my thoughts about this with you :)

The first concern with the "best friends" label is that it is exclusive. By definition, it excludes everyone but the two best friends. (Yes, three people could be best friends ... or you could have several best friends ... but generally it is used to describe the relationship between two friends.) It is ranking people. It doesn't portray kindness to your "lesser friends" ... and naturally, we want to be kind. In fact, in Scripture we are commanded to be kind.

Secondly, I explained to my children that using this language isn't often true ... and of course we want our word to be true. Most BFFs do not end up being best friends forever. People change. Stuff happens. People move. Situations change. What does one do, I asked my children, when their best friend moves far away and all of their lesser friends are hardly even their friends anymore?

I know about having best friends. I was best friends with Anne in elementary school ... but then when I moved up to middle school ... I found a new best friend, Traci. Switching best friends can be a bit sticky, ya know? Traci and I had "best friends" necklaces (to really solidify our friendship ~ hahaha) ... the kind with the charm broken in half. I had the half that said BE FRI ... and she had ST ENDS. She even had our names engraved on the back at Things Remembered. Today, however, I'm not best friends with either Anne or Traci. You might be thinking ... big deal ... that's how kids are ... it didn't really hurt anything ... it helps kids cope or something like that??? On the other side of childhood though ... I'm thinking how I sent the message to my other friends that they were less valued by me. I wasn't treating those girls how I wanted to be treated.

Finally, needing to use the "best friends" term seems to reveal insecurity. (There are, I think, two exceptions to this ... which will come later.) We are trying to find security in this friend ... in our status ... in this relationship ... in being someone's best friend. In situations like this, we are motivated by selfishness. I want to be best friends with someone really cool ... popular ... neat ... whatever. I want to know that someone likes me best! If we are Christians though ... shouldn't our security be found in Christ?

It also exposes insecurities in parents. For example, I once heard a mother talking about her daughter's best friend. Her daughter, however, was only ten or eleven months old! And the best friend? She was maybe a whole three months old! These babies don't even know the word friend! Maybe they will be friends ... but maybe they won't "click". This makes one wonder ... why does the mother feel the need to claim a best friend for her baby daughter???

We instructed our children to not overreact and make a big deal when they hear their friends talking about their best friend or saying they want to be best friends ... because it's not a sin. It's just a what is best issue ... a preference issue. Also, some parents haven't talked to their children about this ... or perhaps they haven't even thought it through much.

We coached the kids this way ...
If a friend tells you that you are their best friend, say something like ... "Thank you. You are a good friend of mine too." If a friend asks if you want to be best friends ... try to explain why you don't use those exact words. Let them know you don't have a best friend ... but you think they are really a special, dear, good, close, whatever friend.

Of course we are going to have tighter friendships with some than with others ... and these might change depending on our stage of life and other factors. The point here is that it isn't helpful or necessary ~ and can be hurtful ~ to publicly rank our friendships. It's quite possible to have deep, meaningful friendships without making a vow of lifelong best friendship.

So ... recently Buddy's buddy told him they were B.F.F.. "That's right," Buddy agreed ... "We are BOY friends forever!" :) It's nice to see your children following your instructions ... I hope they'll believe our wisdom about how stupid dating is too ; ) That might be a tougher sell though ...

If Buddy and his buddy are close buddies for the rest of their lives ... all well and good! They will be able to know they are special friends by how they treat each other, by how they confide in each other, by how they enjoy being together ... and a "best friends" label isn't needed to make their friendship richer.

Two exceptions: spouses and siblings
When a wife, for example, says her husband is her best friend it's not excluding ... because they already have an exclusive relationship. Also, it is more likely that they will remain best friends ... unlike our best friendships from childhood. Finally, it seems more indicative of a good marriage than an insecurity of needing to attach yourself to one particular person. The same is true for some siblings. I know these two brothers who are nine years apart ... and best friends. (By the way, they only have sisters ... so they aren't excluding any other brothers.) They already have a unique relationship, they will probably always be close, and their best friendship shows great love for one another ... not a need for security.


Suzanne said...

This was so interesting to read and think about Dana. I really never gave it such detailed thought, but you have, and I enjoyed thinking through your points. My kids have never had "BFF's" either...not sure why not but it just hasn't happened....mostly because I've been way too busy and frazzled to keep up the social schedule such a relationship seems to require. Maybe I'll stop feeling guilty about that! Thx!

Dionne said...

So true! I never really took the time to think about the Best Friends concept from a child's point of view.

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