How do we teach our daughters about true friendship when everywhere they turn, they are bombarded with messages of how important it is to have a BFF?
From TV shows for young girls to conversations at recess, there is a ton of pressure to find a Best Friend Forever at such a young age.
I have four daughters, the oldest of which is nine-years-old. Already I am hearing so much talk about having a BFF. During a conversation about friendship my daughter said in a sad tone, “I don’t have a BFF,” as if she had failed. My heart sank. She is only in 3rd grade and has many friends but felt as if she was missing out on something. My sweet girl has a lifetime of friendships to discover and here she was devastated that she hadn’t found that coveted BFF by age nine.
Is this what we want for our children? For them to strive to find that one close friend, and then block out the rest of the world? I admit that when I was younger I had half of one of those popular heart-shaped necklaces, and my childhood friend had the other half. They were cute, gave us identity, but at the same time left out the rest of our close friends.
I fear that this strong label of having a BFF is ruining the way our daughters look at friendship. What happens to the shy girl who thought she was an equal part of the group? Or the new girl in school who comes half-way through the year? Is she limited to someone who isn’t already claimed by another girl? What happens when we grow and change and connect with different people? Must we put each other on this pedestal only to remind everyone else they are below it?
Childhood friendships should grow, change shape, and include a variety of types.
Not only our children, but their friends, who are also still figuring out who they are and who they are going to be.
As a mother, I realize the importance of having conversations about friendship, but my loudest beacon in this area is going to be what I show them from my own friendships. I hope to teach my daughters that while it is great if they can connect with one friend on many levels, they can also learn a lot about the world and themselves by having and investing in several close friends. It isn’t that having a BFF is bad, but rather, that we should not shut ourselves off from those around us, simply because they don’t carry the title of our BFF.