The topic of friendship has come up recently in my own group of friends. I was surprised at the different thoughts and values we put on friendship. Growing up I had a very few close friends and only one best friend. I can tell you exactly when we became best friends. We were in the fourth grade and my friend came to my house for a sleepover one night and didn’t leave for four days! This was the beginning of our “best friendship.” We had many laughs and secrets over the years that I will always hold close to my heart. To this day, we still connect via email but are on opposite sides of the US. Since my first best friend, I’ve had a few other women who I have considered a “best friend” over the years. For me, it was always only a very few best friends at a time. These are treasured relationships.
I believe that in recent years the term “best friend” has lost its true meaning. When you look best friend up in the dictionary there is no definition. It leads you to boon companion; which means an intimate or close friend. I feel there are many levels of friendship and they are all important. What concerns me is the overuse of the phrase best friend. We are living in a world now where we want everything to be fair and equal. We worry so much about hurting people’s feelings that we call everyone our best friend. I think this takes away from the true meaning of the phrase. I am not saying we shouldn’t have many friends. I believe in being a friend to all. Personally, I will hold dear the phrase “best friend” and will teach my children the same.
Friendships begin at birth. As parents, we join parent groups, or gym classes and the children of the parents we connect with become our children’s friends. As our children grow, they will slowly start to make decisions on which friends they want to spend time with based on common interests. My four-year old son, all of a sudden doesn’t want to play with girls. For years, many of his friends were girls. Recently, my seven-year old came to me and said that she really didn’t have anything in common with her best friend anymore. I was impressed with her observation. I did tell her the story of my first best friend. There is a significance about a first best friend. My first best friend and I have gone in different directions in life and have many different interests now and are separated by geography. That being said, I still consider her a very close friend. No matter the amount of time that passes, we can always pick up where we left off. I want my daughter to know that her best friend will be a friend for life regardless of their different interests. It is also very important to be able to appreciate the differences in each other.
Today and forever, it is my dear husband who is my best friend, my boon companion. I have a few very close friends I rely on constantly for support and many laughs and then many friends who I enjoy. But I will save the title “best friend” for my husband.
There are countless books out there on friendship. Please read to your child about friendship. Please teach your child the Golden Rule; treat others how you want to be treated. In the end, friendship is a very important part of our life from the beginning. Everyone needs friendships at all levels in their life. Later in life our friends become our sanity and our safe haven. Help your child learn how to build a solid friendship.
And please do not misuse or overuse the term “best friend” with your children.