Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Morning Musings

You may have noticed, if you have kids or grandkids between the ages of 7 and 10, that there is a level of socialization that is more intense than it ever used to be. Very young girls are forming exclusive friendships and pledging to be best friends forever. (BFF)

That is scary on so many levels, as pointed out by one mother in an op-ed piece for The Dallas Morning News. Julie Blair wrote about her daughter's experience when the current BFF dumped her for another BFF. That act was accompanied by lots of tears and angst, and it made Julie take a look at the topic in a new way. "Third grade in 2013 seems a sorting-hat year: Girls are reportedly pairing off at recess. These 8- and 9-year-old children have begun to figure out where and with whom they fit in. They pick up and drop BFFs like toddlers do colorful plastic toys. While some do it with grace, others are hurtful.
Few seem to realize the importance and downright fun of having an entire playground posse."

This article resonated with me because it deals with a social situation that has probably been going on for centuries. I know it has passed through several generations in my family. I clearly remember the first two years of high school being buffeted by the "friendship whims" of my peers. Then my oldest daughter experienced that in 8th grade. Then my oldest granddaughter experienced that in 6th grade. Most recently my younger granddaughters have been experiencing it in 4th grade.

See the pattern here?



When I wrote my young-adult novel, Friends Forever, that deals with these friendship whims, I really hoped that as we got better at parenting and kids got smarter and more aware of how their behavior affects others, that this problem would diminish.

I'm disappointed that it hasn't.

I'm also disappointed to see businesses and the media encouraging this new phenomenon. According to Ms. Blair, "American companies like Disney continue to promote the idea of exclusivity between young girls. Not only should you have a BFF, they teach on a good majority of their tween television shows, but you should both get matching T-shirts and jammies to tell the world that you’re going steady. If those are in the wash, you can buy binders, photo frames or locker magnets to announce your exclusivity."

I am also disappointed in the parents who encourage their girls to buy into all of this. The parents think it is cute, and they are treating their children like little adults. They are not little adults. They are children, not ready for the emotional entanglements involved in all this BFF stuff. That type of dependence and exclusivity is something that most people share with a life-partner.

That usually comes a long time after 3rd grade.

Now that I have that off my chest, here is something that might interest you if you are into fantasy and sci-fi stories. A group of authors are doing   The World Building Blog Hop hosted by Sharon Bayliss.  Today they are letting readers know how they created their make-believe worlds. This morning I read a piece by Yolanda Renee and it was pretty interesting. Since I set my stories in the real world, I am not participating in the blog hop, but I will read some of the blogs. It is always fun to discover new worlds. 

4 comments:

Yolanda Renee said...

Maryann,

Thank you for mentioning me. I too usually write in real time, but wanted to challenge myself with something new. I hope you enjoy the blog hop.
I found your post interesting. I have two boys and can't imagine raising girls today. So much pressure and at such a young age.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks for stopping by, Yolanda. I'm not sure if raising boys is any easier than raising girls. My three boys certainly were a challenge. (smile)I'm just glad I am not raising any children in this current society, although I do have concerns for my grandchildren.

LD Masterson said...

Another side of this social thing is the girlfriend-boyfriend. My grandson has had a string of "girlfriends" starting since he was in elementary school. The relationship is pretty much in name only since he's not old enough to date but he doesn't seem happy unless he's "going with" someone. I don't think it's the particular girl as much as it is just having someone. But just as with the BFF's, the end of these relationships can be very hurtful.

Maryann Miller said...

LD, I agree that the boy/girl thing is a problem for very young children. They are being socialized into behaviors that are normally reserved for older teens and adults and are not equipped to handle them. And sexually activity has become common in elementary grades. Morals aside, that kind of activity is bothersome on so many levels.