Does Singing About Friendship & Self-Esteem Create Those?

Hi Folks – This piece about child friendship is fascinating to me. I’d love you to ponder what to me is the main point: Isn’t it easier to make a friend while working on something together (especially something big), than while simply talking about  friendship?

A parallel thought: If you’ve ever taken a class on writing novels, plays, or anything dramatic (for me it was musicals), you know the credo: “Show, don’t tell!” Don’t have Romeo just yammering about how much he loves Juliet and wants to spend his life with her and how really sorry he’d feel if anything bad ever happened to her…  SHOW their passion. Have them DO things. Have them change their lives, not just chat, chat, chat.

In the letter below, by Lisa R. of Arlington, Mass,  it feels like we are replacing the “showing” part of life with the “telling” part. It’s passive, it’s dull, but boy is it safe! – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I signed up as assistant troop leader of my daughter’s Daisy troop as soon as she turned 5.  She lasted half the year (I wouldn’t have let her quit mid-year, but we moved).  Our friends in Boy Scouts, at the same age, were going camping and hiking.  The Daisy troop was doing arts & crafts, earning “petals” by things like tracing their body on big paper and writing/drawing things about themselves, and other silly things.  Yes, the troop is what you make of it, but the organization is set up to focus on very different things than I had expected.  If you read through the Daisy handbook, you’ll see that there is almost nothing about traditional scouting skills.  Lots of singing songs, talking about self-esteem, talking about friendship, etc.  Yes, those things are important, but I expected my daughter to make friends by DOING exciting activities in scouts — not to skip the activities and TALK about being a friend.

The biggest thing they did, in three months, was to put together little bags of snacks with a small craft, that an adult then delivered to a nursing home.  Mind you, they didn’t actually cook anything — no measuring, using the stove or oven, etc. — they just put snacks in bags. Sigh.  - Lisa

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