Thursday, June 17, 2010

Should kids have a best friend?

The Anchoress wonders if “enlightened experts” ever had childhoods after reading an article in the NYTs on best friends:

. . . increasingly, some educators and other professionals who work with children are asking a question that might surprise their parents: Should a child really have a best friend?

“I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,” said Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis. “We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.”

“Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend,” she continued. “We say he doesn’t need a best friend.”


The Anchoress thinks that experts are playing the busybody when they try to insert their wishes on the kids:

This isn’t about what’s good for the children; it is about being better able to control adults by stripping from them any training in intimacy and interpersonal trust. Don’t let two people get together and separate themselves from the pack, or they might do something subversive, like…think differently.

This move against “best friends” is ultimately about preventing individuals from nurturing and expanding their individuality. It is about training our future adults to be unable to exist outside of the pack, the collective. The schools want you to think this is about potential bullying and the sadness of some children feeling “excluded.” But that is not what this is about.


Frankly, I think telling the kids to congregate in packs could backfire on the helpful (probably liberal) experts who want them together. I don't think keeping kids in a pack makes them less likely to bully. It seems to make them behave more like feral animals. Given that most kids commit crimes in groups due to peer pressure, it seems unwise to tell them to huddle together. And groups of kids may not always do what the liberal adults want them to.

I read recently in The Economist that in 2008 Austria tried lowering the voting age to 16 and the kids promptly pulled the lever for right-leaning politicians. Kids will find a way to express their individuality, whether the adults want them to or not. My guess is that if a kid wants a best friend, he or she will find a way to get one.

27 Comments:

Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen, et al.
RE: Just Farking 'Great'

“I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,” said Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis. “We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.” -- some nimnull

These idiots have it absolutely bass-ackward. [Note: Please pardon my military parlance for an utter fool.]

We do not 'possess' our friends. Rather, our friends possess US. And it is a mutually deprecating society. But we accept each other for what we are. And we think the other more important than ourselves.

I like the way Samuel Johnson put it....

Books like friends, should be few and well-chosen. -- Samuel Johnson

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[A friend is someone with whom I can, without fear, be myself.]

P.S. It's probably because he is as much a victim of his follies and foibles as I am....myself.

2:43 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

P.P.S. Maybe....JUST 'maybe'....

....these 'utter idiots' are not 'idiots' after all.

Maybe they're playing a deeper 'game'.

I'm suddenly reminded of S.L.A. Marshall's classic work 'Men Against Fire'.

General Marshall, the famous historian of the US Army found, in his research of World War II and Korea, that Men, in direct contact with an enemy, do not fight for ideas as much as they fight for their 'friends'.

Break those ties of friendship and you do a good deal towards breaking the famous 'Will to Fight'.....

What was it some Wag said so many millennia ago?????

Greater love hath no man than THIS....that a man lay down his life for a FRIEND. -- Jesus, the Christ

2:52 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

Jeez...

was parenting this difficult when I was growing up? I feel like the alarmist media and psych industry have turned every single little piece of parenting into a massive social pressure and shame experience.

Let your kids do what they want, teach them some manners, teach them to plan for goals and be done with it!

3:27 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger The CronoLink said...

Why do people have to be this idiotic? Grrrrrr....

3:56 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Just when I think the "helping" professions can't get any more idiotic, they prove me wrong. Much of our social behavior has developed over thousands of years of evolution and is genetically ingrained. Then some bozo counselor gets the idea that her/his way is better than thousands of years of evolution.

Trying to force people (or any other animal) to behave in ways not natural to them can have far ranging, unpredictable negative consequences. If you actually observe children over time, the groups they run around with and their best friends change over the years as they become interested in different things and participate in different activities.

This is quite natural and interference from adults too stupid to see this cannot lead to positive outcomes.

4:46 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Eleanor said...

WTF? Are these "educators" (i.e. self-styled social engineers/ busybodies) just dumber than a bag of hammers, or something more sinister? Probably both, since they don't seem to have taken into account the possibility that this might just backfire.

6:18 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Eleanor said...

BTW, I've never been a "pack" person and never will be (too introverted and not much of a joiner). I can't say what this sort of interference in school would have done for me, suffice to say I hated school most of the time and didn't fit into groups at all, but did manage to have a few individuals I could hang out with and talk to. Someone telling me I had to hang out in large groups would have pissed me off to no end.

6:28 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Eleanor, et al.
RE: Well....

....dumber than a bag of hammers.... -- Eleanor

I can do something constructive with a bag of hammers. Things I doubt these people can do. For that matter, I doubt if they can do ANYTHING 'constructive'. Rather, based on what I said earlier—which correlates well with your later suggestion—I think they're up to something far different than mere 'dumb'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out....]

6:30 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Mario said...

I read this article this morning in the New York Times. I was absolutely horrified. This is wrong on two counts.

Number one, it's another example of educators doing less teaching and instead engaging in more baseless, theoretical social engineering -- or, I should say, experimenting on young children.

Number two, it's another example of the collectivist ideal of reducing the private sphere. Now teachers are going to be encouraged to "monitor" friendships and steer people away if their friendship seems "too exclusive"?

Okay -- number three. (This just occurred to me.) We have in our society the leftist notion that any kind of preference is "judgmental." This manifests itself mainly in multiculturalism, but you find it elsewhere, too. So, now perhaps having a favorite friend means you're "too judgmental" towards others? The alternative is a kind of social promiscuity.

I side firmly with the critics cited in this article. Clos friendships are both normal and necessary to a proper and healthy emotional development. Screw this holier-than-thou, meddlesome, Ivory Tower nonsense!

Let me see kids learning math, and science, and reading and writing, and history -- and then come to talk to me about your "progressive" and "enlightened" ideas.

I know there are a lot of teachers out there who no doubt think that this is bunk. It's probably the younger ones coming out of school who are going to be indoctrinated with this "educational theory" and who will be the ones implementing it.

To the Ph.D.'s who thought this up -- shame on you. Go jump off a cliff!

6:58 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Ern said...

“Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend,” she continued. “We say he doesn’t need a best friend.”

And how, exactly, do "we" know that? There are fields in which there are actual standards for what we know. They're called "sciences"; more accurately, they actually are sciences, unlike some fields that style themselves sciences. Unless Ms. Laycob can meet those standards, she should probably stay away from children.

6:59 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Tina said...

The original article reads: ""For many child-rearing experts, the ideal situation might well be that of Matthew and Margaret Guest, 12-year-old twins in suburban Atlanta, who almost always socialize in a pack. ...Neither Margaret nor Matthew has ever had a best friend.""

Matthew and Margaret are TWINS. Twins. They have always had a built-in best friend in their sibling. Someone is saying that twins are proof children don't need a best friend.

If the author doesn't even comprehend the implications of twinship - or, frankly, of close-in-age siblings... oh wait. This article is in the Fashion Section.

Ern @ 6:59 PM is correct: there's no science in this article. It's about fashion.

This isn't new. It's the same old thing class-conscious Ivy League parents have done for generations: making certain their children don't get too close to the wrong sort of people, and that they DO get close to the right sort. Exclusive private schools, boarding school and summer camps used to be favorite methods of assuring the kids were only exposed to people of equivalent high socio-economic status.

They are just giving it a new name now - a new excuse and new quasi-experts to call on to assure their children will continue to attend all the right schools and get the right internships and befriend all the right people now.

Like at Yale and Harvard, only earlier.

9:51 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger David said...

How much money are we as a society spending on "experts" of this kind?

However much it might be, it's probably way too much.

10:12 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Mario --

It's probably the younger ones coming out of school who are going to be indoctrinated with this "educational theory" and who will be the ones implementing it.

Or not. My daughter and her teaching friends of hers pretty much ignore the crap. Then again, look who raised her.

The hope I get out of that is that at least it's not a total mind-set and things can change. Hopefully it's already at saturation.

11:28 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Omnibus Driver said...

When these so-called educators land back on planet Earth, I might actually give their opinions some weight. However, they are clearly only children of academic social experiments... pitiful experiments who have never experienced a peer-level friendship.

That we give misfits like this daily access to our children is a sad statement on who and what we have become as a society.

11:43 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Major-General said...

Cicero writes in "On Friendship" that we choose a friend because we are attracted to the virtue that they exhibit.

I don't see how one can recognize virtue in a group.

3:17 AM, June 18, 2010  
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8:48 AM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger TMink said...

Wow. The quoted psychologists are on the right side of this issue! Wow!

Very telling of the educators to look at the bumps and bruises of friendship and want to put kids in plastic bubbles to keep them from experiencing distress. Learning to deal with distress is the mark of the emotionally healthy.

Hmmm, I think I just figured out why the educators are against friendship! Carry on.

Trey

9:52 AM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger Eleanor said...

Only a Ph.D. could come up with something that stupid!

Chuck, good point. Of course, they're also about as subtle as a bag of hammers with their efforts at social engineering.

10:21 AM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

That's just more of the "of course you're special!" pap they've been peddling as "raising self-esteem of the children".

Are they next going to insist that teenagers don't have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

I have relatively few really close friends. For them, I would help them move in a N. Florida summer, watch their back in a dark alley, or help them move bodies.

For the rest of y'all: not so much. ;-)

12:16 PM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

PhD = Piled Higher and Deeper (sorry, Dr. Helen)

Regarding the "bag of hammers", remember that when all you have is a hammer, before long all your problems start looking like nails.

12:26 PM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger God Of Bacon said...

Perhaps we could send our children to military camp at age 7 just like the Spartans.

4:03 PM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: I R A Darth Aggie, et al.
RE: Promoting High Self-Esteem

That's just more of the "of course you're special!" pap they've been peddling as "raising self-esteem of the children". -- I R A Darth Aggie

Funny....or maybe not so....

....that the suicide rate in the US Army seems have jumped.

I suspect it has something to do with 'high self-esteem' expectations, e.g., I'll be a Field Marshall in NO TIME, coming into direct contact/conflict with the realities of the REAL world on a REAL battlefield.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Thank YOU, NEA and all your assorted miscreants. All that blood is ON YOUR HANDS....and it won't wash off....

7:06 PM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: God of Bacon
RE: Proper 'Education'

Perhaps we could send our children to military camp at age 7 just like the Spartans. -- God of Bacon

I prefer a concept I argued in high school debate in the late 60s....

RESOLVE that the United States adopt a system of universal military service.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. My partner and I had a counter-plan that was ALWAYS a winner.

Not universal military service, rather universal governmental service, with the first several months in what amounted to boot camp.

Afterwards, as in Starship Troopers, you went off to whatever you and the counselors thought worked best for you....provided there were openings. Things ranging from Forest Ranger, GSA Supply Clerk, Border Patrol, VISTA, Peace Corps, Mobile Infantry, etc., etc., etc.

7:48 PM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger Kevin M said...

Hey Pelto, are you drunk or just transcribing the ranting of that goddamned elf that lives in your head?

6:02 AM, June 19, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Kevin M
RE: Heh

Hey Pelto, are you drunk or just transcribing the ranting of that goddamned elf that lives in your head? -- Kevin M

Neither.

But I get the distinct impression you're 'projecting' one ONE of those aspects. If not both.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Here's looking at YOU, kid.]

P.S. Got anything constructive to add to this discussion? Or just your usual ad homs?

7:33 AM, June 19, 2010  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

God of Bacon - the Spartans had no friends.

12:53 PM, June 19, 2010  
Blogger Tari said...

Wow - and St. Louis Country Day used to an unbelievably good school. My husband's graduating class there in the mid 80's had 6 boys attend Harvard (out of 70). The college enrollment stats have gotten much worse over the past 25 years - I guess idiot "counselors" like this woman have something to do with that. Pathetic, to focus on this kind on nonsense instead of the business of educating boys and turning them into men. Blech.

2:54 PM, June 21, 2010  

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