More Schools Are Adopting A No-Best-Friends Policy
Is this well-intentioned policy really the best thing for our children?
Growing up, did you have a BFF? Someone with whom you shared all your secrets with and could count on to be there no matter what?
I still count some of my best friends that I met in grade school and high school among my closest friends today. And while many of us consider this forging of a super-tight friendship in our youth to be a rite of passage, some schools are now banning the concept of “best friend.” Instead, they want students to focus on bonding with all of their classmates, so that no one feels left out or excluded.
The trend of banning best friends has been growing in recent years, with schools in both the United States and throughout Europe adopting the controversial policy. The idea is once again receiving widespread attention because it was recently reported that Thomas’s Battersea, the school where Prince George recently started kindergarten, enforces a “no best friends” rule. We’re sure that the little royal will have no trouble making lots of friends, if not a designated bestie.
So what do the experts have to say about the idea of no best friends? Some professionals who work with children see the logic behind the concept.
“I don’t think it’s particularly healthy for a child to rely on one friend,” Jay Jacobs, the director of Timber Lake Camp, a co-ed sleep-away camp in Phoenicia, New York, told the New York Times. “If something goes awry, it can be devastating. It also limits a child’s ability to explore other options in the world.”
Others argue that having that one, true-blue friend in childhood is essential for healthy mental and emotional development in adulthood. In a paper published in the journal “Childhood Development,” researchers found that subjects who had higher-quality close friendships as a teen tended to have lower social anxiety, an increased sense of self-worth and fewer symptoms of depression by age 25.
“We weren’t surprised that better adolescent close friendships turned out to be important, but we were surprised by just how important they turned out to be into adulthood,” lead study author Rachel Narr, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Virginia, told New York Magazine.
In fact, another study showed that people who searched for fewer, yet closer friendships were happier than those considered themselves popular. Psychologist Tim Kasser discovered that those who wanted popularity over close relationships tended were less healthy, and often more depressed. However, people who found a best friend experienced the opposite effect.
Many people are confused and upset at the possibility of this policy against best friends.