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Psychologist: Having best friends should be banned because it’s ‘exclusionary’

In the latest overly empathetic attempt at shielding young people from the harsh realities of life, a shrink wonders if schools should ban children from having — wait for it — best friends.

Writing in US News, child and family psychologist Dr. Barbara Greenberg says “there is something dreadfully exclusionary” about the concept of a “best friend,” and notes some American and European schools already forbid kids from having them.

Greenberg realizes that many will scoff at the notion based on “real life” expectations (“perhaps there is some truth to that,” she says), but she is focused on the “bigger picture”– that is, the distress of rejection associated with having a close confidante.

“I am a huge fan of social inclusion,” Greenberg writes. “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.

“And, if kids have best friends, does that also imply that they have ‘worst friends?'”

From the article:

A focus on having best friends certainly indicates 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.

My hope is that if we encourage our kids to broaden their social circles, they will be more inclusive and less judgmental. The word “best” encourages judgment and promotes exclusion.

I am not, however, an advocate of encouraging kids to have huge groups of friends. What I would like to see instead is children having a smaller group of close friends. In fact, there is research suggesting that adolescents who have a small group of close friends fare better emotionally than those who are part of a larger social circle. Perhaps those who are part of a large group lack closeness and are socializing primarily with acquaintances.

Greenberg says parents should not forbid their kid from “having contact” with a best friend, nor “march into [their] child’s school” to make sure there’s no prohibition on having best friends.

“Instead,” she says, “consider making a bit of a shift to your vocabulary and talk to your children about the importance of having close friends. Put less emphasis on popularity and having best friends.”

She concludes: “Think of all the wonderful opportunities you may have missed if you socialized exclusively with only one friend.”

Read the full story.

MORE: Having white friends ‘can be exhausting’ so we stick with nonwhites

MORE: NC State dean: One of my best friends as a student was Mao

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  • suerobb

    Friendships are earned, they are not an entitlement

  • N=1

    What a silly woman.

    Such arrogant meddling in social customs and traditions by shallow ‘experts’ has no natural or necessary limits.

    This woman would (possibly) benefit from some acquaintance with ancient descriptions and analyses of friendship

  • Dr. Donny

    “..where there is a ranking system, there are problems.” Yep, we should get rid of grades, military ranks, academic professorial ranking, performance ranking, and profession ranking. Teachers should not be above students, nor law enforcement or judges above criminals. We are all equal so no one will feel bad. And family psychologists should be ranked equal to a five year old where they belong.

    • WWT

      Too tough to accomplish. Let’s start by getting rid of psychiatrists and,after we’ve done that, see if there’s any need to go any further.

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    • We should all be “comrades.”

    • Hannah

      I love it!

  • DukeSteele

    I wonder how many times shes been rejected. What a maroon.

  • Arthur Burnside

    This ilustrates the problemswith Psychology – it’s almost total failure to understand or predict the behavior of human beings. It does not qualify as a science . The stupidity of this rambling, nonsensical view is that it falsely claims that “best friend” is qualitatively different than “good friend” and means, apparently that the individula is only interacting with that best friend. This is utter nonsense – “best friend” does not imply a relationship that excludes all others, but even if it does, why would anyone believe that the individual would somehow benefit by interacting with someone they liked less? But, best friend does not imply what the article claims – a person is ALWAYS going to have a best friend, even if they spend little time with that friend. A best friend could actually be someone you don’t really like very much. Of course, the whole silly logic is an attempt to push the notion that this supposed “exclusion” is bad. Yeah,right, would want to exclude the Hitlers and other assholes of the world, now would we?

  • Kate

    Dear God, the loony phychologist leading the pack of loons, no wonder there is so many imbeciles coming out of our “higher learning”institutions, or we should say institutions..

  • James Gillies

    Dr. Barbara Greenberg : Spoken like the TRUE, psychologically-challenged SOCIALIST that you TRULY ARE! YOU are the SICK one! GET LOST creep!

  • RestlessLegs

    Having a Ph.D is pretty exclusionary, too.

  • Darius B

    She is insane.

  • Jude

    Liberalism is truly a mental disorder.

  • Larry Moran

    Another liberal attempt to change reality by simply re-naming it; if we don’t call them best friends then the problem (if there was a problem) goes away.
    Teach kids to deal with the real world, how to make a friend, how to be a friend. How to safeguard one’s self in a ruthless world.

  • JasonC5

    Female psychologists…. fuck it just ban soft sciences all together as they are doing more harm than good to society.

  • Pete Schumacher

    I always thought psychologists were a bunch of quacks, now I’m certain.

  • Charles Evans

    “There’s a case to be made for having a small group of close friends instead.”

    Cliques are less exclusionary than best friends?!?

    • Kctandmore

      Psychologists are an exclusionary group. Why shouldn’t anyone be allowed to make medical diagnoses of mental illness and the prescribed treatment? 😉

      • Ge0ffrey

        Especially without meeting the man/woman in person (aka the diagnosis of Donald Trump).

    • Sam in Texas

      Who knew Mean Girls was a how-to movie about healthy relationships, until the ending that is.

  • Kctandmore

    This is a perfect neo-communist/neo-fascist world view, where every individual is merely a cog of the state. There is no need, nor any place, for friendship in a communist dystopia.

    • Ge0ffrey

      Are you quoting from Orwell?

      • Kctandmore

        Just stating the obvious, although Orwell is proving to have been somewhat of a prophet. My point is that this psychologist displays the American left’s true ideology. While many profess their admiration for Mao, the left’s vision for America is truly closer to that of Mussolini.

  • Lydia Long

    Equality carried to its extreme.

    • Ge0ffrey

      Radical egalitarianism.

  • dmreiter

    It’s impossible to overstate the stupidity of the thesis of this article. I’ve always been a big supporter of college attendance. I need to reconsider that position.

    • Ge0ffrey

      Vocation trade schools, science and math schools, language schools, and computer classes. Anything else, the great books of Western Civilization. I tell young people, particularly young men, don’t go to college. Get Microsoft certification or some such technical training and get on with your life.

  • Paul Slash

    She makes Tasseomancy sound reasonable.

    • Ge0ffrey

      Thanks for expanding my vocabulary.

  • timmaguire

    “And, if kids have best friends, does that also imply that they have ‘worst friends?’”

    No. This person seems to have little understanding of what a friend is.

    What I would like to see instead is children having a smaller group of close friends.

    Make up your freakin mind! Is a closed group a good thing or a bad thing?

  • Evil Otto

    “I hope…” “what I would like…” Greenberg is cloaking her personal preferences in the guise of psychology, using her title to attach scientific weight to something she actually has little understanding of.

  • Kilroyishere

    The left is all about controlling the narrative, “consider making a bit of a shift to your vocabulary.” Right down to each and every word used. Brain washing on a massive scale so everyone is “included” and no one feels “left out.” This is happening way too much in our houses of learning(?). It’s amazing if students can string two words together without the fascist thought police hauling them away for re-education in some remote wilderness.

    • Generic Avatar

      Why haul them out to a remote wilderness when they do it almost openly in public schools everywhere in the West?

  • Sally

    The psychologist says that as someone who has never had a best friend and always felt excluded.

  • The predominant effect will be the implanting of the idea that state authority figures have a say in your personal friendships and associations. That is horrific.

  • Robbins Mitchell

    She uses that word “exclusionary” like it’s a bad thing…hell,everybody is exclusionary…every day of their lives….people always have been….it’s human nature….if her IQ were above room temperature she would understand that

    • Evan

      I went to her website to email her. It said her staff will review all emails and only some will hit her desk. I feel excluded. She should be banned from doing that.

    • Guy Atlas

      and, i believe she lives in nome, alaska, too. so that room temp is low low low.

  • Michael Lang

    An utter idiot. Mindboggling.

  • spunknik

    My wife is my best friend, idiot. Am I supposed to feel exclusionary for not including other women in my marriage?

  • Sam in Texas

    You first.

  • Ge0ffrey

    Because one person can’t have a best friend, no one can.

  • The best treatment for severe OCD is surgery. Psychiatry is still in the dark ages of neurobiology, Astrology vs astronomy would be a good comparison.

  • Sniglet66

    Why stop at banning best friends? Later in life, accomplished professionals have the nerve to pair off with other accomplished professionals, completely ignoring the opportunity to pair off with a disadvantaged person, lifting their fortunes up via marriage. It is terribly exclusionary for the successful to pair off with other ambitious people. We MUST ban choice in marriage – The State must choose our mate for us to ensure a better outcome for all!

  • Bubba LeRoi

    this porridge has only ONE friend, this porridge has too MANY friends, this porridge has JUST the right amount of friends …

    … what a maroon …

  • Jim M

    God Bless (and Help) America!! Another example of an inmate trying to run the asylum…

  • MarkJ

    Question: What’s the correct title for a person who has flunked out of dental school?

    Answer: “Child and family psychologist.”

  • Glen Wishard

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. For a real news story, find a left-wing academic who’s NOT a raving idiot.

  • henrybowman_az

    While we’re at it, they also shouldn’t have “mommies” or “daddies.” People in Greenberg’s political circles tend to divorce and remarry constantly, and those shifts lead to emotional distress for the children. Children should instead be encouraged to refer to their guardians as “meal ticket” or “sucker.”

  • ss396

    What on earth is a “worst friend”? Yikes!

    Meanwhile…
    We found two different kids sports leagues when we moved here. We were too late for mine to join the one league, so they joined the other one – which turned out to be one of those that doesn’t keep score or standings or any of that other stuff that might suggest different levels of skill, performance, etc.

    The league rules and the adults did not keep score, but the kids sure as hell did.

    • Generic Avatar

      “What on earth is a “worst friend”?”

      That would be called Obama. 😉

  • John McIntyre

    The psychological profession along with others want to social engineer our society so no one is offended. This will result in children and young adults unable to cope with daily stresses as everything cannot be controlled. A part of childhood is learning to deal with events that do not go our way. These people want a perfect society based on unrealistic goals. People will look out for themselves at some point offended someone. The is the way life goes and always has so stop social engineering and help children and young adults learn to deal with failures in life at a young age so they can cope when older. The social engineering is a main cause of many of the problems in society today. The concept of my truth is the top offender as it keeps people from dialoging and reaching a compromise. The highway or my way attitude many exhibit in society often on social media where they can be hidden and avoid being challenged.
    Since having a best friend is exclusive so would be a having a group of close friends. The two options both exclude people who may with to be a friend to someone in the small group alas they lose anyway. I believe teaching children communication and social skills will allow them to make as many friends as they need. The need to psychological manipulate is not an answer. This should be done primarily in the home through parenting so children are instilled with a set of core values. I know some parents drop the ball on good parenting but many do not and are obstructed by psychologists and others attempting social engineering. School is for math, science , English and history not social experimentation as these people believe.

  • Generic Avatar

    “I am a huge fan of social inclusion,” Greenberg writes.

    Forced social inclusion is Hell for introverts.

  • ReallyEveryKneeWillBow

    Hmmmm. Yeah, you know, I never really thought of it that way – because, I’m not insane.

  • Art76

    In my long life I have found that it is almost always a good policy to organize my life so that when I encounter a dingbat, I avoid them. This includes psychologists. And even professors. And even bosses (you are empowered more than you think. Even if you are no good at corporate politics via networking, you can often move to a different dept.. How bout requesting a transfer? Some bosses are mentors, donchaknow.

    I have no one in my circle of “friends” whose values do not resonate with my own. I associate with others (such as spouses of offspring) out of politeness, and practice as much avoidance as possible. I sadly admit I have one offspring to whom this applies also.

    This psychologist is obviously a dingbat. What hutzpah to suggest that I do not have sovereignty over whom to admit to my circle of friends. Perhaps she never took individualism 101, or read Ayn Rand?

  • Guy Atlas

    google it. most rampage killings have been carried out by people who ARE on meds. maybe we need fewer meds and shrinks.

  • Having certain classes of people recognized as uniquely skilled in brain function, such as Psychologists or Psychiatrists, is also exclusionary, and should be banned.

  • caaronbrown

    Ms. Greenberg, will you be my worst friend?

  • James

    Liberals have an uncanny ability to take a good idea and make it bat excrement crazy and butt-klown stupid. Why not just encourage an attitude towards inclusiveness amongst the kids, instead of trying to forbid the idea of having a “best friend.” If anyone wants to be MY best friend, they should punch one of these idiots in the face for me.

  • Comment Monster

    What a stupid comment. Did you think this was the place to turn in your 5th grade essay on psychology?

  • IstvanIN

    ((Dr. Barbara Greenberg )) nuff said.

  • EdCrunk

    Even Jesus had a best friend.

  • Joyce Fox

    Ms. Greenberg ~ What’s wrong? Were you the child that sat alone at a table in the cafeteria while others around you sat with their “best friends”? Is that why you have decided that best friends are bad? Are you saying to yourself, “I never had a best friend and these kids shouldn’t have best friends either! It’s not fair!” Guess what … LIFE IS NOT FAIR! GET OVER IT! PEOPLE WILL HAVE BEST FRIENDS AND THEY WILL HAVE FRIENDLY ACQUAINTANCES AND YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT! SO SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP!

  • sdsf

    Barbara (((Greenberg)))

    • FrankTucson

      Yep, the usual suspects.