Newsflash: They’re NOT All Your Friends

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I don’t even know when it happened.

 

We live in a society that places incredible value on equalizing everyone– whether we’ve all earned it or not. Somehow, we should all be entitled to all the exact same things and no one should ever notice if our behavior is, how shall I say, NOT in line with what one might expect from a decent, contributing human being.

 

Okie dokey.

 

This is, in a weird way, seeping into our schools, too. From preschool, our children are being told, “We are all friends!” “These are all your friends.” “Which little friend will we pair you with today?” and on and on.

 

I get it. We’re trying to push back against cliques, exclusivity, and bullying. And you know what? That’s awesome. We SHOULD try to fight those things because, quite frankly, they are not qualities demonstrated by the aforementioned decent human beings.

 

But here’s the problem.

 

My children have no idea what “friend” even means because of the definition the school is providing. 

 

  • My six-year-old climbed off the summer school bus, tears in her eyes. Her “friend” had pushed her into saying a word (the meaning of which my child didn’t even know) and she had, in turn, gotten in trouble with the bus driver.
  • This same “friend” pulled my daughter’s pants down on the playground and mocked her because they were so baggy on her skinny frame.
  • Whispering, my little girl asked me to help wash her hair. “There’s sand in it, Mommy… because Ellianna poured sand over my head at recess…”

 

It leaves me furious. “Why?” I demand, “WHY are you still playing with this little girl?”

 

The words come with wide innocent eyes, “Because she’s my friend.”

 

As a parent, I’m fighting hard to redefine “friend” to my children. Ellianna? Is not a friend. The little boy who makes fun of my son’s buddy when he doesn’t get 100% on a spelling test? NOT a friend. Friends simply do not treat you that way.

 

I object to the idea that “we’re all friends.” Quite frankly, we’re not.

 

We are all peers and you should treat your peers with kindness and respect. All people are entitled to be treated with dignity.

 

This is what I wish they were teaching my children.

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17 comments to Newsflash: They’re NOT All Your Friends

  • So sorry that happened to your little girl. We had to teach our little one, also, about the definition of a true friend…e.g., a true friend doesn’t manipulate and say, “If you do this, then you’ll be my friend.”

    Your girl is blessed to have you as a mom.

  • Paulie

    Well said. We are not all friends. Like Dolly said we need to teach about true friends. It happens even in families where other member bully kind hearted members. It just get me upset that this happens. But that’s life and we need to teach our kids the right thing and to be strong. Our kids need to be strong (and I mean in terms of personality and mind set) in this world.

    • It really IS a matter of teaching strength, Paulie… you’re very right. Hard to shatter that innocence with the harsh realities of this world, though, isn’t it?

      • Paulie

        Thanks for your reply and kind words JessieLeigh. It is very hard but it must be done otherwise the kids will be figuratively shattered on the inside by these so called ‘friends.’

  • Paulie

    Oh boy I see some typos in my response. That should be ‘other members’ and ‘just gets me upset’

  • Darcey

    My daughter had the same thing happen in Kindergarten. The girl had older siblings and was very needy, but didn’t know how to “play nice”. I kept telling her that if she continued to do things like this that maybe that person wasn’t the kind of friend to have. But, she kept telling me that she really liked her as a friend. That “friend” was kept back when my daughter went on to 1st grade. I am just hoping that she showed this little girls Jesus while they were friends. Just keep in mind that classes change and she may not be in the same class next year. Pray that God will have His way in the situation and help your daughter be Jesus to the other girl.

    • I think it’s wonderful for our children to embrace others and to offer the benefit of the doubt… but they do have to protect themselves from cruelty, too! It’s a tricky balancing act, to be sure…

  • JessieLeigh–You ALWAYS have a way of saying things. We deal with this on a regular basis, and like you, it frustrates the fire out of me.

    Our daughter has really had a go with it lately with 2 girls in particular. I won’t go into specifics, but I think I’ve finally convinced her what a TRUE friend looks like. And even though I’m good friends with one of the little girl’s moms–that doesn’t mean that the daughter is my daughter’s friend.

    While it seems that girls have a harder time than boys with this…My boys have battled with this as well. *sigh*

    • I think it happens with both genders, but girls are so much sneakier and more socially adept than boys (in general). Boys are more likely to physically bully, perhaps, but girls can cut you off at the knees with a single scathing remark. It’s terrifying to watch those “skills” emerge even at a pre-K level…

  • Keli

    This is such a hard thing to get them to understand sometimes! Last school year I had to explain to my then first grader that a real friend will not ask you to do things that you do not want to do–like be mean to another child. It just breaks my heart when she comes home and cries because her “friend” would not play with her or said mean things to her.

  • My daughter has struggled in the friend department for most of her life. Everytime she thinks she finds a friend they do something that is clearly not what a friend would do and inturn has ended their friendship. It breaks my heart to see this happening all the time. The last time this has happened she broke down in tears asking way she can’t just find a true friend. I wish I had the magic words for her. Bullying, gossip, lieing, backstabbing, it seems like she’s dealt with it all, and she’s only 11 :-( It’s sad that you have to go through the hurt to find out they really were not friends to begin with.

    • Oh, that makes me so sad, Elizabeth. I am so sorry. In many ways, I think it’s tougher for girls sometimes, too. They’re just so much sneakier and more adept socially– at a crazy early age! Pre-K girls have already formed cliques and hierarchies. It’s alarming how savvy they actually are. Boys, for the most part, seem simpler about the whole thing. I rather like that about them. ;) (They’re more likely to throw a punch, but probably do less long-term damage. Does that make sense?)

      • I totally know what you mean about boys. lol My boys either are friends with someone or not. Plain and simple. And if they get in a fight, like you said, they may throw a punch, but then it’s over and they are friends again. If they don’t like someone for whatever reason, they just don’t hang out with them. They don’t try to fix them or try to make friends with them somehow, they just move on. So simple. lol

  • [...] She is popular and well-loved at school simply because she is sweet. Just this year, she’s learned to stand her ground and to speak up for herself when “friends” don’t behave like friends. [...]

  • [...] little friend will you work with today?”, etc. The only problem with that is that my children had no idea how a friend should actually treat them, based on that definition. They let children mistreat them because “he’s my friend, [...]

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