By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
Dr.Barbara Greenberg is a child psychologist practicing in Fairfield, CT who believes very much in educator social engineering. She thinks kids ought not to have best friends because it is “exclusionary.” Dr. Greenberg is fine with having schools step in and engineer a child’s friendships according to the opinions of the state.
“The notion of choosing best friends is deeply embedded in our culture,” Dr. Greenberg writes in a piece titled “Should Schools Ban Kids from Having Best Friends?”
“Nonetheless, there is, in my opinion, merit to the movement to ban having best friends,” she continues. According to Greenberg, “there is something dreadfully exclusionary occurring when a middle schooler tells the girl sitting next to her that she is best friends with the girl sitting in front of them.” “Child after child comes to my therapy office distressed when their best friend has now given someone else this coveted title,” she continues.
Greenberg says “Bring it on” to the idea of banning “best friends.” She explains: I am a huge fan of social inclusion. The phrase best friend is inherently exclusionary. Among children and even teens, best friends shift rapidly. These shifts lead to emotional distress and would be significantly less likely if our kids spoke of close or even good friends rather than best friends. . . . There’s an unspoken ranking system; and where there is a ranking system, there are problems. I see kids who are never labeled best friends, and sadly, they sit alone at lunch tables and often in their homes while others are with their best friends. Is a best friend an “exclusionary” thing? Sure. Do kids without best friends feel like garbage sometimes? Absolutely. But the truth is, Greenberg is making the same incorrect assumption that so many people make when they advocate for banning language: that changing the language will change a single damn thing about the reality. It won’t. Instructing children, as Greenberg suggests, to talk about “close friends” instead of “best friends” isn’t going to change those friendships any more than suddenly referring to your ex as “my boyfriend” is going to mean that you’re back together.
Many human relationships are inherently “exclusionary” such a marriage, and of course, friendship. A child’s friends may need parents counsel in determining whether that friend is a good influence, but families do not require educators to manage that process. School are for education not social engineering.