You know that whiny little brat your kid insists on holding hands with at pre-school? Good news.
By the time they hit middle school, she may well be done with her. Turns out we measure friendships kind of like dog years.
Every seven we start over. Note to self, purge Facebook line-up in five, four, three . . . .
From the study at Utretcht University in the Netherlands: “Personal network sizes remained stable, but … many members of the network were new. About 30 percent of discussion partners and practical helpers had the same position in a typical subject’s network seven years later. And only 48 percent were still part of the network.”
The study looked at adults ages eighteen to sixty-five. But look at the way kids’ friendships change over time, and you can see a life-long pattern emerging. There are the parallel play “friends” forced upon them in infancy by their parents, followed by the nursery/pre-school/daycare/playgroup friends with whom they have their first real peer-to-peer interactions. They’ll remain playing with those kids, or new ones they meet in kindergarten until around age ten or so, when kids generally begin to split by gender for their “core” groups of friends. From pre-school (three) to middle school (ten) is about seven years.
Fast forward to leaving high school and heading for college, and making a whole new set of friends. From ten or eleven to seventeen or eighteen is another seven years.
If your kids have a particularly sweet little buddy, don’t despair – not EVERY friend will fall by the wayside (check out the Girls from Ames, the new book from journalist Jeffrey Zaslow about a group of forty-something “girls” who grew up together in Ames, Iowa, and are still best of friends today for some good karma . . . and a good read). But if your kids’ picks are particularly ass-tastic, well, there’s always hope.