Life

Mommy's Grounded

Best friend bans are totally bizarre

By Bianca Bujan

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

A few months ago, it was announced that Prince George would be attending a private day school where “best friend” relationships are currently banned from the schoolyard.

At this U.K. school, children are discouraged from choosing a best friend to avoid hurt feelings, and instead, are encouraged to only play in large groups.

This mentality is what’s wrong with parenting today. We’re awarding ribbons to everyone who plays the game instead of keeping score at sporting events. We’re giving every student a passing grade - or eliminating grades entirely - so that no one feels as though they’ve failed.

Instead of teaching children how to face failure or experience hurt feelings - important life skills - we’re eliminating the causes to keep kids on an even keel.

But by preventing children from feeling the emotions that come with tight friendships - including the fall-outs and hurt feelings that may occur - we’re setting our kids up for failure in the future.

Ben Thomas, the Headmaster at the leading prep school that Prince George will attend, disagrees. He argues, “These obsessive friendships can be very hurtful for those who are left out of them, and ostracizing is as painful as physical bullying.”

I don’t think that a child feeling a closer connection with one friend over another is synonymous with ostracizing others. What are we teaching our children if we don’t allow them to bond with someone in fear of hurting the feelings of others? When they become old enough to pursue romantic relationships, should we disallow them to do so to avoid hurting the feelings of their single friends, or even themselves should the relationship end in a breakup?

Childhood friendships provide an opportunity to teach children about relationships - about how to be inclusive, how to avoid becoming overly obsessive, how to deal with disappointment, and how to relish in the beauty of a healthy and lasting relationship.

As long as we encourage our children to be kind to everyone, we should teach them how to choose friends that will lift them up and be a good influence on them, and how to do the same in return.

Deidre Sanders, a journalist from the Sun in the U.K., argued in a follow-up article to the original post, “Our childhood friendships are how we begin to learn about love and commitment. Of course, they often break up, and that is how we learn resilience - so we can cope with rejection later.”

Let’s stop pulling the wool over their eyes and let children feel the ups and downs of friendship - whether it be in a group setting with all of their peers, or in a tighter union with their one special BFF.

Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, and a writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter @bitsofbee and at bitsofbee.com. Comments: bitsofbee@yahoo.ca.