As I clipped her into her Car Seat his Morning, Intrepid Bebe said “Mummy my best fwend”. Of course my heart simultaneously melted, and I felt a huge surge of guilt because I had been pretty impatient with her over night when she had woken up every half hour or so and driven my sleep deprived self nuts. She’s a big fan of the Peppa Pig “Best Friends”, so I imagine this inspired the comment-you may well have been subjected to it? The book neatly pairs people off: Peppa & Suzy, George & Dinosaur etc. She has recently become even more fascinated and infatuated with other children, and I adore watching her develop little friendships, and learn big social skills.
Often on instagram adorable image pop up of Mother and Child, with heartwarming capsules about being one another’s ‘Best Friends’. And even as Adults, when people refer to their Parents as their best friends, this seems so lovely. But is it actually possible, or even appropriate to be your Child’s best friend? And while I’m on the topic, should we have best friends at all?
Can you, and more importantly Should you be your Child’s Best Friend?
So first; my two pennies worth on Parent’s as your best friend. Whilst I would, of course, like there to be a friendship between my daughter and I, one of the toughest thing about Parenting is that at times, you have to do things in their best interests, even if they are not on board. It is our role to guide them, support them, and lead the way when they are not able to. I guess it depends on your own definition of a friend. I feel that a friendship is typically a relationship based on equality, and whilst there may be some overlap when friends care for and guide you, when that is all one way, it’s not a very balance friendship.
Friendship requires maintenance, you can outgrow friends, move away and lose touch, or even fall out. I want my Daughter to know that I am there for her, unconditionally and forever. Perhaps once you become an Adult, your relationship with your Parents can become more of an equal friendship? I am thrilled that, even in her little two year old eyes, she can view me as a friend, and I am happy to be her very first friend, but being her Mum is the role I will treasure the most (especially on the days in the future when she most definitely does not consider me her friend).
Should we be discouraging ‘Best Friends’?
Now on to the topic of best friends; I have heard of a few schools recently (such as this one, and this one) actively discouraging Children from having best friends. On the surface, I can see the merit in this-I am sure we can all take ourselves back to school ground bickering of who’s who’s best friend. And if you have Children of School age, I can imagine dramas of this kind are probably just as prevalent today. ‘best’ implies exclusivity, and singularity. Surely by definition you can only have one best friend?
I have a friend (she’ll know who she is) who must have easily 25 “besties”, I am happy to count myself as one. her friends often tease her, but it’s actually a lovely thought that you can be my ‘best childhood friend’, you are my ‘best work friend’ etc. Is best just another word for close? After my Childhood best friend emigrated (to Australia-which ultimately led to me meeting my Husband over there!), I never really had another best friend. I had lots of great friends in school, many of which I am still close to today, but no best friend. It wasn’t really until i started having Boyfriends that there was someone in my life I would refer to as a best friend.
This is an interesting observation, and is one of the arguments that some Psychologists have used against the ‘anti best friend’ School policy; that superficial relationships shouldn’t be encourages, and will this have a knock on impact in their later life? And i guess in someways those first ‘best friends’ are practicing for future relationships. Those qualities we value in the playground aged seven don’t alter hugely; loyalty, trust, funny, interesting, reliable. All things I would like from my life Partner.
I am very fortunate that I can say my Husband very much is my best friend. I have definitely heard Women speak before about how this is something they do not want, that they need their female best friend externally to their marriage. For me, whilst I adore and truly value my close friends, I couldn’t be married to someone and commit my life to them, yet not think of them as my best friend.
Ultimately, I think your views are probably largely influence by your own personal experience. Be that you had a life long best friend you couldn’t imagine your existence without, or because your child comes home from school feeling lonely and excluded.
I’d be really interested to hear you thoughts: do you have a Best Friend? Do you think that Children should be discouraged from labelling friendship in this way-do your children’s school do this?