The friends basket

What if the process of social development weren’t so focused on kids making friends and instead on kids finding people? There are all kinds of relationships and experiences that develop social skills, so why put all the eggs in the friends basket, particularly given how narrowly the word gets defined?  What if it were just as important to find mentors, coaches, people to look up to, people to be looked up to by, treasured relatives or neighbors or acquaintances that have a specific way in which they relate to you uniquely?

These might be people who aren’t necessarily your friends, but call you to grow and change as a social being, in different ways.  And there’d be less pressure to Have Lots of Friends.  It wouldn’t mean you didn’t have to find friends, there’d just be less pressure to.  There’d be less emphasis on this one kind of relationship you had to have.  You’d just be out there in the world interacting with people, finding the ones who offered something and to whom you had something to offer.  They might not be the same age, might not be anyone you want to spend a lot of time on the phone with, might not share any interests, might live far away, so you might say you didn’t have a lot of friends, but there you’d be, developing as a social being in spite of it.

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