Band of Besties: Teaching Our Daughters How To Navigate Healthy Friendships

It’s important to teach our daughters how to navigate healthy friendships.

I’ve searched, my whole life, for my best friend. Now, as I witness my daughter transitioning into a new school, and embracing her latest social circle, I can see that she is in search of the same thing:

THE best friend. The when-you-think-of-me-you-see-her friend.

Monica & Rachel. Thelma & Louis. In my daughter’s case, T. Swift & Selena.

The friend that is your everything. The friend who makes you laugh, and takes over for you when you’re having a shitty day. She cheers you on. She comes to your house with wine and picks nits out of your kid’s tangled hair. She guards all of your secrets (and you, hers). You share clothes, you parent each other’s children, you’re incomplete without her there. That one special person.

As a child, I had many friends. I went to scores of sleepovers and parties. I never sat alone at lunch. I was never left wondering where everyone was on a Saturday night (unless, of course, I was grounded). Yet it felt as though I’d missed the day when everyone paired off. I had friends–but not one BEST friend.

My search continued into adulthood. I still felt lonely and incomplete, even while surrounded by so many friends. My notion of one perfect best friend, tailor-made for me, led to disappointment. Over the years there were a few friends I would have given my soul to in order to secure that title to her, too. I’d think, I’ve found her! I’d be crushed when reality set in–that nobody had yet given their entire self to me. (Imagine the mountain my husband had to climb!)

I’d invented a perfect (impossible) vision of my one best friend, an angel on high who would fulfill the role of everything I ever wished in another human and the title before her name would say it all: BEST.

She had to be THE BEST.

How’s that for an impossible standard?

Over the years I had collected this valuable collection of friends–good, dependable, fun, creative, funny, smart, fantastic, wild, beautiful, talented friends. It took me a lifetime to truly see the gift I’ve been given. They collectively possess all of the qualities I was searching for in the one best friend–  I don’t just get one, I get many! THEY are my best friends.

A gaggle. A gang! I have a band of besties!

They are my best friends for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes they mix and mingle.
Sometimes they don’t even know or like each other.
Sometimes they friend each other (because they deserve multiple best friends too).
Sometimes we grow apart for a bit because life happens. We’ll loop back around.

I credit my husband for shifting my vision of how best friends should work.  He saw all the beautiful people in my life, already giving me everything I need– it just couldn’t all come from one place each time. He helped me see what, in retrospect, was so obvious.

band of bestiesNow, I no longer hold people to an impossible, shifting standard (or at least, I try). I am surrounded by beautiful, kind, smart, funny, wild, creative, dependable people. I am blessed with best friends. Plural!

Now, as new people come into my life, it takes no time at all to notice the qualities in people who can be another best–the more the merrier. New friendships seem to bud with more ease, as they are relieved of the pressure from the start. I recently found another ‘best’ in a friend I’ve never actually met! She gives me something that those physically close to me can’t, and that’s ‘the best!’

Not needing or expecting my friends to be everything to me has lifted the weight of the world–from their shoulders and mine.  They each provide me with something that fills me up and makes me feel whole. And like most things that are strong and good…it takes a village to achieve. I’ve got quite the village!

I still wish, sometimes, that there was one magical person filling every attribute of what I would look for in a very best friend. But by any measure of reality, she (or he) likely doesn’t exist. Realizing and accepting this has helped the relationships I have with my (best) friends to bloom, like a beautiful garden.

As my daughter searches for her (one) ‘best,’ I’ll guide her to seek a “garden” variety– an endlessly blooming band of besties.

And hopefully, I’ll continue to be one of them.

This post was published on Scary Mommy and Today Parents.


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27 thoughts on “Band of Besties: Teaching Our Daughters How To Navigate Healthy Friendships

  1. Love this perspective, Elease! And actually, after reading this I think that I’m in the exact same situation…but I just never could put my finger on it. The “best friend” I had growing up seemed to change with each passing school year. And now as an adult, I have several close girlfriends, but I would be hard pressed to name a single one my “best friend”. They are individuals who fill different needs. As you say, the more the merrier!

  2. A garden variety of besties is definitely the way to go. It’s strange how I only had a few besties growing up and we have all gone our separate ways. Now I have a whole tribe of amazing women as friends. Thanks for sharing!

  3. These are good things to consider with friendships. My daughter has been struggling lately and it does take work when it comes to friendships.

  4. very good things to take into consideration regarding best friends

  5. I read a book called Friendships Just Don’t Happen and it really opened my eyes on friendship. I hope to raise my daughter with a different perspective on friendship than I had.

  6. I love this! as a young girl I struggled with being bullied and making friends so an article like this is so important!! 🙂 thank you for sharing <3

  7. Every girl needs a Rachel to their Monica! Loved this read!

  8. I love how you mention all sorts of friends – friends from childhood, friends who you’ve never met. I’ve had many friends throughout my life and although I haven’t stayed in contact with all of them, they each have taught me things and I will always hold them in my heart.

  9. Sometimes our expectations get in the way of our happiness, like your expectations of having that one true bestie. But, as with most things, that often happens only on TV… I’m so glad you realized a band of besties is even better than that BEST friend you dreamt of – it’s like having that Best, several times over.

  10. Neil Alvin Nicerio January 30, 2019 — 8:53 am

    Friendships play an important role to one’s life. This article nicelt discussed why friendship is a must for everyone.

  11. Really nice article. To have healthy and good friendships are blessings to life. A good mother will always be a good friend to her daughter. Thanks for sharing.

  12. When I was a teenager, I had 3 amazing best friends (all at different times). I can honestly say they meant more to me than my family. I would have done absolutely anything for them, and they also would for me. In adulthood, I don’t have a best friend or really any close friends. It’s not that I don’t want that closeness (I miss it), but my lifestyle (full-time travel) tends to ensure people keep me at arms length. All but one of my friends from home have ended up not being friends with me at all. It’s weird how things reverse!

  13. Loved reading this! Brought my back to my childhood. Healthy friendships are so important.

  14. I have several best friends and I am SO blessed because they all get along so I get to hang out with them all together.

  15. A shift in perspective indeed can do a lot of wonders. On the other hand, it’s really hard to find that one friend whom we would consider as the best

  16. Great thing to appreciate the crucial role that friends play in one’s life!

  17. I mean I don’t have a best friend per say, I have a lot of friends that I value and respect, and I know I can count on them, we may not hear from each other every day but we are here for one another, and that is better than having one friend, because what if that person was your best friend but you aren’t his? then what?

  18. A heartwarming post. I so relate and inspite of me being so busy, would always spare time for some bonds. A sister away from home that I can sure lean on with lifes happy and not so happy moments, my best friend.

  19. Totally get you! I’m the Same I have a gang of besties! It’s more fun and you have many advices available in case you don’t like one 😉 🤗👍🏻

  20. This is a lovely article. Friendships are such a hard thing to navigate when you’re young. Definitely as i’ve grown up i’ve learnt the importance of friendships and agree it’s something everyone needs. Great post 🙂

  21. I tell my daughter many times that there is nothing like one best friend. I had best friends who were boys almost all my school and college life

  22. You will be your daughters best friend and she yours. Worth waiting for.

  23. I so love what you have written here, speaks much of how I feel. Now, I have a band of besties and I am happy to have found them. They keep me high and grounded at the same time! I just love being with them.

  24. Loved it so much… I have never had a lot of friends and I blame my own commitment issues or may be it has been often that people have associated themselves with me. Just for the benefits and now I have built a wall around myself

  25. Friendships make navigating teenhood a better experience. Helping our daughters learn to distinguish what makes a friend is very important too.I enjoyed this.

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