Free-Range Kids

No, Schools Shouldn't Prohibit Kids From Having Best Friends

The misguided quest to protect children from any and all emotional harm

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BFFs
Serrnovik | Dreamstime.com

Should schools prevent kids from having best friends? Short answer: no. Longer answer: absolutely not.

Best-friend-bans have been a hot topic ever since we learned that Prince William and Kate are sending their oldest son to a school that discourages kids from forming best friendships. But this isn't just a trend among posh British tykes, writes Karol Marcowicz in the New York Post:

Our schools began to ban best friends, too. Most parents know that schools have been doing this informally for some time, but psychologist Barbara Greenberg caused a stir with a recent piece in US News & World Report, noting that she sees a trend of American schools implementing an actual ban.

Greenberg approves of the move because she is concerned by what she calls the "emotional distress" of a kid losing the status of best friend or the "inherently exclusionary" nature of best-friendship itself. Greenberg writes that "child after child comes to my therapy office distressed when their best friend has now given someone else this coveted title."

"Distress" is distressing. But it isn't crippling. Let Grow, the new non-profit I run, just held a contest asking high school students to write essays about thinking for themselves and hundreds of them wrote about the time a best friend turned on them—and how this made them gradually realize that their former best friend was a jerk, and wrong to put them down.

It was amazing to see how common this entire cycle was, in grammar school, middle school, and high school. Many of the essays are heart-wrenching. The kids went through deep loss. Some were distraught. They believed it when their besties told them they were ugly, or fat, or stupid. But eventually, they stopped believing it. And then they were grateful for the ordeal, because they came away with more self-confidence.

These letters surprised me. But it seems like making and losing best friends is a formative experience for young people. What a strange and difficult journey childhood is for so many. No one's saying we should make it more difficult—just that the effort to protect children from all emotional pain stems from a misguided belief that they can't handle any of life's slings and arrows. If we ban best friends, I worry we will only succeed at depriving our kids of the ability to overcome more serious obstacles later in life.

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  1. Sheesh, what would have happened if such a policy were in place when Sevo and Shriek became best friends when they were in school?

  2. Inequality is bad. So if people vote that we can’t have best friends, who are you to say otherwise? Harrumph, I say!

  3. TOP MEN know better than human nature to form friendships.

  4. This policy must against letting kids have friends explains so much about my school years.

    1. When it comes to Hugh’s school years, there was a lot of Melvins.

      1. With a name like “Hugh” that was to be expected.

    2. Being a libertarian explains it way better.

      1. Everyone hates me. You’d think it would be good that I can always agree with folks on at least a few things, but no. I’m an anarchist who hates order and peaceful societies. Clearly.

  5. But it seems like making and losing best friends is a formative experience for young people.

    Of course it is, and the so-called psychologist who denies that should have her f’in license revoked on the grounds that she has no understanding of human nature.

  6. Really creepy.
    And just how on earth is this policy going to be enforced or monitored?

    1. you have to separate them

      1. The Offspring approve that statement. Grade school truly loves up to their line about one goes to the morgue and the other to jail.

  7. The people at the Onion are going ‘why didn’t we think of this!’

    1. I’m pretty sure the people at The Onion are thinking that about every day now. Not much point in existing if parody become reality.

      1. The Onion has had a really rough couple of years.

    2. HAHAHA!!!!!!….LIB/PROGRESSIVE/PC trigger/safe space bs is sooooo nutz these days, you can’t make it up!!!

  8. Next on the list: Putting an end, forever, to the scourge of cooties.

  9. Since most best friends tend to be of the same gender, can’t the kids just start referring to their besties as their “partner” and the school would have to back off? and no doubt, exceptions must be made for imaginary best friends!

    1. Having an imaginary best friend excludes everybody! There’s no way it can be allowed.

      1. They hate people of color so much their bestie is clear.

  10. How exactly do you ban best friendships? It is either functionally impossible or suggests such a regimented control over how kids interact with each other that would put Orwell’s Oceania to shame.

    On the other hand, this kind of attitude does explain why a “Grace” expects personal interactions to go perfectly smoothly.

    1. I assume that the “ban” manifests simply in limiting kids’ choices on where to sit, partnering for group assignments, “buddying” on outings, etc. It mostly just adds yet another piece of micromanaging makework to the teachers’ labors.

      To the extent that they would go the extra mile in actively trying to generally stigmatize “best friendships”, then they really could start doubling down on the creepy collectivist indoctrination, and I guess from there, in this age of social media monitoring, they could theoretically interfere in other “Big Brother”-ish ways, but at present I think the actual regulatory elements of this are fairly limited.

      1. go the extra mile in actively trying to generally stigmatize “best friendships”, then they really could start doubling down on the creepy collectivist indoctrination, and I guess from there, in this age of social media monitoring, they could theoretically interfere in other “Big Brother”-ish ways,

        Feature not bug, just give them time.

      2. I think you’re blind, deaf, and dumb. It’s easy enough for teachers to forbid use of the term best friend, and separate any who appear to be spending too much time together. These types of policies are never just background noise.

    2. “suggests such a regimented control over how kids interact with each other that would put Orwell’s Oceania to shame.”

      I believe you just answered your own question. Hypophora much?

      1. Yeah, it’s more conditioning that the state has all of the power and you will confirm to its will or else. You as an individual do not exist.

    3. That’s what I was trying to figure out. Unless 2 of your friends are tied for it, at any given time 1 of your friends is going to be best. What could they do, make you be less friendly?

      So the only thing this could be about is the phrase “best friend”, & expressing same. Which practically never comes up unless someone asks, “Who’s your best friend?”

    4. I would think kids are having a hard enough time making friends, what, with being cooped up in the house all the time. Today’s kids don’t seem very well socialized as it is.

  11. “Ban friendship between kids”. This is one of the dumber ideas I have heard today. It must be the brain-child of a leftist.

    Have you heard that Donald Trump drinks diet cokes, eats hamburgers and likes pussy? He is a monster, there is just no other appropriate description.

  12. by forcing people to not have best friends they are losing the opportunity to make long term commitments some of which may help guide you as you grow. but then the proggies who promote that like the fact that without friends to turn to your left with only the government as guidance

    1. Then everyone can be just like them and have names like Hugh Jashole.

  13. The kids should take a cue from Jefferson Airplane and call each other worst friends instead. Challenge the school to regulate that.

    1. They just want somebody to love

  14. Uhhh, if you can’t have a best friend, you can’t have any friends. It is a progression from acquaintance to friend to best friend.

    So… No more friendship in modern, proggie America.

    1. Not true. All friends must be equal. Everyone had to be invited to every birthday party, everyone had to give everyone else the same size Valentine, no one may say bff, everyone must equally be friends with everyone else. Even the stinky kid who picks his Dingleberries.

  15. This concept is also going to be hell on kids with more introverted personalities who are more comfortable with a few close friends. Of course, they tend to be regarded as something that needs to be fixed anyway.

    1. That’s a good point. INTPs and INTJs like me would likely then tell everyone to just get the hell away. So instead of teaching my pathologically independent and introverted self to actually learn to deal with these aliens I call humans, I would never grow and become more fiercely introverted and independent.

      It’s almost like these people with doctorates either have an agenda or have a doctorates based on something other than merit. Or both.

    2. Makes me sort of glad my brother was my de facto best friend while living. (I would’ve denied it–how utterly embarrassing to feel close to a *younger* kid of the *opposite sex*–but I wasn’t nearly so close to school friends.) No teacher could have done thing one about that!

      Those of youall who don’t mind a conservative Catholic point of view might want to check Returntoorder.org for a strikingly similar post on this topic.

  16. I have seen research suggesting that making close friends is a precursor to being able to successfully bond with an opposite sex partner. If you never have close friends, you are likely to have shallow and volatile romantic relationships. So this desire to protect from any harm, just like getting rid of swingsets, prevents kids from growing up.
    It is really evil.

    1. Maybe that’s part of the “left” agenda to discourage families.

  17. Obviously, a ban is the wrong way to go. We should instead force ALL friendships to be best friends forever no take backsies.

  18. “International 4-8818 and we are friends. This is an evil thing to say, for it is a transgression, the great Transgression of Preference, to love any among men better than the others, since we must love all men and all men are our friends”

    People say that Ayn Rand’s novels are completely absurd cartoons. Totally impossible.

    Yet Marxists bring those cartoons to life everyday.

  19. This is why I think that the current generation of kids is screwed in more ways than one from the get go. Not being acquainted with “NO,” being horribly spoiled and getting their own way on everything, never being taught simple manners and social skills, or respect for others, being indoctrinated with PC garbage, and now this? Saddest part is, I’ll likely be around to see how this lot turn out, and I will likely be unimpressed.

  20. If these kids have any sense, they’ll do what we did when I was a kid: regard grown-ups as the Enemy! Learn to sneak everything past the Enemy. Always say “I dunno”, and make faces behind their backs. Learn to not just question but despise Authority. Plot, scheme, conspire, organize! That’s an important part of your education!

    1. Yes, the “secret friendship” sort of thing…which of course carries more potential for harm…

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