I have so much to say about this article– as a wife and as a mother of a son.
My instinct with both my son and my husband is to nurture their friendships- their relationships other than their relationship to me. I neither want a monopoly on their affections nor wish them to be dependent on me as their sole source of emotional support.
I encourage my husband to maintain his friendships. I facilitate it when I can. I consider it a priority. I feel happy when he leaves for a game convention with his dear friend. I shoo the kids out of his office when he has game night with his friends that always start with catching up, jokes, and life updates. I’ve never once begrudged him his time with his friends. That is important.
For my son, he is facing separation from his best friend. They love each other, clearly, and are each other’s favorite person. But they will be starting kindergarten in different school districts. The parents are already laying plans for how to maintain their friendship. Plans for karate lessons together. Playdates and sleepovers.
When my son tells me how much he loves his friend I reply, “I know you love him. Doesn’t that make you feel good?” Just the other day he told me that during a sleepover he hugged his friend and his friend didn’t even wake up! It was adorable to see how happy he was, to know he’d been so overcome with love and affection for his friend that he just had to hug him.
I know how important my friendships are. I love so many people, and am loved in return. It never occurred to me to think it was different for male friendships. And actually, this piece makes me wonder about platonic friendships between opposite genders, or between two people who are seen as potential romantic partners. (The article discusses homophobia, but seems to assume there are no friendships between gay boys that remain platonic, or at least doesn’t address them).
Just let go of worries of convention. I have had moments with my son where I feel uncomfortable- like when he wants his nails painted, or when he says he wants to marry his best friend, but I stop myself. I realize that the feeling of discomfort is not because I think something is wrong, but because I know others would be critical and find it wrong for a boy to paint his nails pink or marry his best male friend.
As long as I can I will protect my son (and my daughter) from the horrors of social pressure. They are too young to understand romantic love. They haven’t had a crush yet. They think (rightly so) that gay marriages are just as normal and common place as heterosexual marriages. They discuss marrying their best friend (my daughter has already picked out names for the daughter she plans to adopt with her best friend). IT IS FINE! They are children! Let them be!
My wish for everyone is a best friend, an enduring friendship.