The Friend Philosophy

Raise your hand if you remember that Chris Brown beat the CRAP out of Rihanna back in 2009.

Me too!

But I think the Grammys forgot.

I was kind of shocked to see Chris Brown on stage at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards singing and dancing like he wasn’t the guy who shoved Rihanna’s head into the passenger window of a car before using her face as a punching bag.

I’m familiar with the unwritten rule “Forgive and Forget,“ but there are exceptions. How about a little discretion, Grammy’s? Next time why don’t you just book Michael Vick to be one of Brown’s back up dancers?

There’s so much hate and bitterness in this world so the concept of forgiveness is, in theory, a good one. But should every act of wrongdoing be forgiven? Should we hide resentment every time someone betrays our confidence, pounds our self esteem or lets us down?

There are grey areas that surround each isolated incident so, as a parent, the subject of friendship and forgiveness can be a hard one to teach.

My 4-½ year old, Sweet Pea, recently told me that one of her friends is mean to her sometimes.

I told Sweet Pea that she didn’t “need that kind of friend” to which she responded: “Yeah, I don’t need that.” I told her what she does need is someone else to play with when that girl is being mean. I instructed her to temporarily move on to greener pastures until the girl is ready to be nice. And once she is ready to be nice, and she apologizes, it would be a good move to forgive her.

I thought my advice was stellar.  Sweet Pea’s friend, for all intents and purposes, is not really a bad kid and let’s face it–girls (of all ages) can be mean at times, Sweet Pea included. That’s why I was shocked when Sweet Pea looked at me and said “Mommy, I don’t want to be friends with her anymore.”

Jeez, take it easy. That’s so…final. So the kid was a little mean to you. I don’t know if that warrants ending a pretty solid friendship. That friend has some really good qualities. She is good about playing the dog when they play “Dog and Dog Walker.” (Dumbest game ever, by the way) and she always opts to be one of the ugly step-sisters when they play “Cinderella.” The friend clearly has some redeeming qualities because until just recently, my kid has always loved being with her.

I know I have to acknowledge Sweet Pea’s statement about ending the friendship. I’m sure she’s probably bluffing, but it still seems like a good time to open a dialogue about mommy’s “Friend Philosophy.” (Much of this I learned from my own mom.) It’s probably a little early for Sweet Pea to get into something so deep, but the advice is both solid and reasonable–and beyond that, I think it will serve her well in the future with ALL of her friends.

Here it is:

Every friend wears a different hat. You might have a friend who is fun to shop and eat with. She gets the Shopping and Face Stuffing Hat. Maybe you have a friend who you can confide in but she’s no fun to shop with. That’s OK because she gets the I-Keep-My-Mouth-Shut hat and that is a good hat to have even if she’s no fun to shop with. Perhaps you have a friend who you like to go running with (or something horrible like that). She would get the Running Hat. And so on.

So, Sweet Pea’s friend doesn’t always get to wear the I’m Nice hat. So what? She looks cute in the I’m Fun hat and when she is mean, her behavior is probably harmless and manageable. Plus, if she is a friend who selflessly steps up to be Ken every time they play Barbies, I’d say she’s worth keeping around.

It’s very rare to have one friend who can wear every hat, and it’s not fair to expect such a thing. We have to accept our friends for who they are and for what they are capable of giving. Some give a lot and some give enough, but few (if any) can give all. That’s why most of us have more than one friend. Variety is good, and everyone is comfy in their hats.

But what about the friend who is just a total anchor? The friend who you’re truly done with? What about the Chris Browns who used to be in a very Loved hat, but somehow lost their way–and their hat? What do you do with the toxic people who no longer have a positive place in your life because their redeemable qualities have been replaced by bad energy, drama and stress?

If you truly have a person in your life who is just completely and utterly draining and bringing absolutely nothing positive to bring to the table (and I’m so sorry if you do) well…that person, if at all possible, probably needs to be ejected. And that’s not an easy thing to do. Cutting someone out of your life is rough, but protecting yourself is necessary.

I know that Sweet Pea’s friend can be mean at times, but she is certainly not at toxic status. Some of us–many of us–have people in our lives that are poison. If you, sadly, know of what I speak–don’t despair! There is a hat for that person. It’s the YOU SUCK SO BAD THAT I JUST CAN’T HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE ANYMORE hat.

If I were Rihanna, that is the hat I would get for Chris Brown–and if there is a hat that says LOSER, I would grab that one too.

He will look great in it at the Grammys.


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  1. Hazel M. Wheeler on March 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Great post (as usual), Robyn.

    I loved your Friend Hats concept. I’m usually the “I Keep My Mouth Shut” sort of friend. Over drinks, preferably.

    Your advice to Sweat Pea was spot-on, by the way. It’s important to let our kids have a break from a friend without putting them in a position of feeling like they need to end the friendship altogether. I think all kids have ‘better’ and ‘worse’ times being a good friend–as parents, we have to ground those experiences for our kids by helping them *not* to think in global terms about themselves and their friends (“She always….” “He never….” you get it.), but instead pointing out how they do have fun times together.

    “I instructed her to temporarily move on to greener pastures until the girl is ready to be nice. And once she is ready to be nice, and she apologizes, it would be a good move to forgive her.”


    (oh, and yeah, the Chris Brown thing… just appalling.)

    • Robyn on March 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      I’m so happy you didn’t think the entry or the message was too preachy, Hazel (I know it kind of was at times, so thank you for not pointing that out). It makes me feel validated that you agree with my theory because even though I don’t know you personally, I respect you greatly so…well…it just means a lot to me. Thank you, as always, for your heartfelt and honest thoughts. I always get happy when I see your name because I know it’s gonna be GOOD. XXOO

  2. Jeri on March 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I’m not surewhich hat I wear… But you wear the coolest vendor to friend hat! The love to see whenever i can hat! I love the fact that sweet pea recognizes her friend isn’t playing nice. She gets that keen assertion value from you. I love that she’s growing into such a sweet pea! She gets that from both her mommy n daddy. Just think of how she’s gonna rule the world!!!

    • Robyn on March 2, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      We have worked together for so many years now (almost 15!!) but you are not only one of my favorite clients, you are also one of my favorite people. You wear a variety of hats: The HISTORY hat, the YOU MAKE ME LAUGH AND SMILE hat, the YOU HELP PAY MY BILLS WHEN YOU PLACE ORDERS OR REFER PEOPLE TO ME Hat, The WE LOVE SHIRLEYS CAFE Hat, the TRULY SINCERE AND KIND HEARTED Hat…you wear a lot and they are all good ones. I’m lucky to have someone as special as you in my life and for so many years. We still look at the scrapbook you made for us while we were in China. The best hat for you is really THEY DON’T MAKE THEM LIKE ME hat. XXOO

  3. sara on March 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I just love you and all the hats you wear!!

    • Robyn on March 2, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      It would be a whole blog entry for me to list all the hats YOU wear!! You are one of my most favorite people in the whole world. (Thankfully there’s a hat for that).

  4. Stacy on March 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I don’t think I look very good in hats. I have a small noggin. I did, however, love this blog. I’d love to spend some time in your head. I picture it like that scene in Willy Wonka where, “if you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it”. I sang that btw.

    You always make me smile.

    • Robyn on March 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      Hi Stace–
      I know that song! I’d especially like to hear you sing it. I like it and I like that move, except for the part where they are in the boat and Gene Wilder is acting all crazy. (I think they’re on a chocolate river). That part is very scary to me.
      I’m so happy to hear from you and I love that you loved it. You look beautiful in every hat I have for you. Yours are very special hats because you are very special.
      I adore you. We all do.