It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“Friendship became a kind of parenting strategy: By treating Child as Adult, parents hoped that the kid would actually become an adult, and a good one. The happy outcome for some: mothers and daughters who didn’t have to wait until middle or old age to actually enjoy each other’s company. To maintain peer-ness, there came a coinciding pressure to stay young, technologically supported by the capacity to stay young. Moms have never had at their disposal so many resources—so much paraphernalia—allowing them to shrink the generation gap. If they want, they can practically turn themselves back into teenagers.” (“My Mom is My BFF” ; New York Magazine 4/30/2012)
There must be something in the air, because there has been an influx of interesting BFF-related articles out there lately. And this one is fascinating. Really. Read it.
The gist of it is that while the mother-daughter relationship used to be one of guidance—leader and follower, for better or worse (“There was a time in the not-too-distant past when mothers saw themselves as separate, as the standard-bearers of tradition and etiquette, and daughters saw their mothers as the people they dreaded becoming”), now it’s about being pals. Writes journalist Paige Williams, “Now mother-daughter BFFdom is a thing, having morphed its way onto the radar of sociologists, psychologists, authors, designers, marketers, and reality-show creators. The willingness to exploit one’s pubescent daughter for adult dating and fashion advice must be a Real Housewives casting prerequisite, and there’s no telling what the upcoming VH1 reality show Mama Drama will bring as it focuses on the turbo version of bestie mothers: ‘the partying parent who shares drinks, wardrobe, and social life with her daughter, and occasionally needs to be reminded that she’s the parent.'”
The story features the bestfriendship of one mother-daughter pair, Julie (mother) and Samantha (daughter). A relationship that, the daughter says, is not “that superficial stuff like it is with my friends. It’s more of a deep friendship.” Which is great. Until the lines get blurred.
“The tricky thing about being a legitimate BFF mother isn’t that the boundaries between mothers and daughters have shifted, it’s that they’re shifting all the time. Working in both friend and mother modes can get confusing on both sides. Samantha and Julie still bicker, sometimes over the fact that Julie keeps in touch via text with Samantha’s ex-boyfriends. ‘There are times when she wants to be a part of my life a little too much,’ Samantha says. And when her mother reprimands her, ‘sometimes I don’t know how to handle that, because I’m used to her treating me more like an equal.'”
My mother and I are extremely close. We talk on the phone pretty much every day, sometimes more than once. But I don’t consider her my best friend. I consider her my mother. Just as I think a husband is different from a bestie, so too is family. Moms are moms, husbands are husbands, BFFs are BFFs. That doesn’t mean I don’t confide in my mother, I do. But I also get frustrated with her, for things I probably wouldn’t mind in a friend. I expect unconditional love from her, something that can’t be taken for granted from a BFF. While it’s wonderful to have a close, friend-like relationship between mother and daughter, I’d argue it’s vital to not consider your mother your bestie, because you don’t want to think that’s enough. That since you have mom, you don’t need friends.
You do need friends. I promise. You do.
Is your mom/daughter your best friend? Do you think it’s possible, or healthy, for mothers and daughters to be BFFs? Or is it just plain crazy?