In today’s edition of what-the-eff news, some British schools have banned childhood best friends. The students have been discouraged from pairing off in primary schools in Kingston, South West London, and Surrey, to spare the children the emotional pain of breaking up.
Gaynor Sbuttoni, an educational therapist, says, “They are doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend. But it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they’re learning to deal with it.”
Thank you, Ms. Sbuttoni! That’s some common sense right there. And let’s be honest, with a name like that, she was probably the object of some torment as a child -- and I bet having a close friend helped her deal with it. Kids are mean, man. Best friends help.
Throughout life, there will be some people you just click with, and others that you put up with. Some friends will come into your life for a season, and others will form thicker-than-blood bonds with you. My best friend and I were the only girls in large families of boys, and we often joke that God didn’t make us sisters because He knew our parents couldn’t handle us.
Many people in my life have come and gone … we’ll be close for a while, but then something happens, or we just drift apart, or whatever, and all of a sudden we’re strangers that may or may not exchange Christmas cards. Or we're frenemies. It happens.
Guess where I started learning how to deal with the emotional fallout from friend break ups? That’s right -- in elementary school. In fourth grade I was devastated (devastated!) when my best gal pal became the ‘girlfriend’ of my crush. It may have been the first time I used the B-word. Which was totally inappropriate, by the way, and yes I got in trouble, which brings me back to my point that it’s easier to learn these things as you grow up, rather than being spit out into the real world with no clue how to act like an adult.
I get some rules on exclusionary friendships in classrooms. For example, my daughters’ school has a birthday party policy that if you’re going to pass out invitations in class, you must invite everyone, or everyone of the same gender as your child. That’s fine by me. That’s just good manners. But to say you can’t have a best friend?? Ridiculous.
Kids need to learn how to form relationships with others as they grow up. Banning best friends is a recipe for disaster down the line, when we have a generation of young people with no clue how to develop relationships in a positive way, and no skills for how to handle the range of emotions that happen when one of those relationships falls apart.
There’s enough pain in this world -- let’s equip our kids with the emotional maturity to handle it.
Do you think best friends should be banned?
Image via thejbird/Flickr