Should kids ever have a "best" friend?

This morning my daughter, Juliana, came to my room (at 6 am thankyouverymuch) clearly worried about something that was bothering her.

"Mira doesn't like it when I say that Sivan is my best friend," she said. "She thinks it isn't cool to have just one best friend. That's what her mother told her."

Oh, the best friend drama! What a complex subject to wake up to. I had to think about this for a second, because I always had a best friend growing up but now that I'm 41, I truly believe having just one best friend is stupid.

So I replied, "I understand you are BFF with Sivan but perhaps that can be something between you and Sivan and maybe you don't go around saying it to the other girls, who maybe feel they're less important to you."


Of course she didn't agree with me and declared that everyone had the right to have a best friend! I didn't argue, and then she dropped it...but there I was thinking about it for the rest of the day.

Growing up I had many friends, but always differentiated between them and my "best" friend--who was extra special and very important, who I spent tons of precious time with and who also gave me grief. But now that Juliana is growing up, I often wonder: Why do we need to have that one, single "best" friend?

Most children want a best friend. There was a survey of nearly 3,000 Americans ages 8 to 24 conducted in 2010 by Harris Interactive, and 94% said they had at least one very close friend. However, increasingly people are asking if a child should really have a "best" friend?

Let me just say that regardless of our point of view as mothers, it is really a good question to ask. Behind the classic best-friend bond, there are signs of potential trouble. We all know that, so I can understand why some discourage this kind of exclusivity-- it can lead to conflict and sometimes even bullying.

The Pro-BFF (parents and psychologists) fear that children will be denied the strong emotional support and security that comes with intimate "best" friendships. These psychologists believe that close childhood friendships increase a child's self-esteem and confidence, as well as help them develop the skills for healthy adult relationships.

All of this is true and as parents, we cannot curate our kid's relationships. Even if they're painful, they are part of life. Children need to experience different forms of affection and, sadly, also rejection.

I don't think that schools who discourage best friends are trying to break up close bonds, but rather encourage kindness among all children. God knows later in life, relationships that hurt will be unavoidable.

What do you think? Best friends or a lot of friends?

Topics: how to parent  mommy wars  multicultural kids  niños  raising daughters