When I was a young girl, Anne Shirley and Diana Barry created quite a conundrum for me. I longed for the kind of friendship I saw play out in the pages of L. M. Montgomery’s classic stories. The loyalty and long friendship that Diana and Anne displayed was something my girlish heart yearned for. Full disclosure: I’ve never stopped wanting this kind of friendship in my life. These days, however, I also desire this type of friendship for my own daughters. I want them to have friends who will support them in their hopes, dream, and goals even when those friends do not share the same ideals. I see them struggling in a world of too many Pyes and not enough Diana Barrys.
Where can we find Diana Barry?
First, I think it is important that my children know that there are different types of friends. Some friends are just for now and they won’t grow with us. This doesn’t make them terrible people, but the sooner we can recognize them the better. I had this friend in high school that I really thought was a Diana Barry type of friend, but the friendship moved quickly from strong to weak once we had to work to maintain the friendship. I continued to invest in staying in touch long after this friend was making an effort. One day I realized I had been doing all the work and stopped. We are still in loose contact, but not in the way I once thought we would be. Luckily, I have other friends who are interested in maintining friendships even when circumstances change.
For my children, I try to help them understand that it is okay to be friends with people who may not be in your life for a lengthy period of time. Anne Shirley’s wisdom helps guide our discussions because she demontrates committing to friends. It is okay to invest and risk in friendship, even with those who may not last.
Second, Anne sought friends and jumped in when she found a friend. She was actively seeking out friendship. When she found Diana Barry, Anne wasn’t afraid to express her appreciation for her friendship. Are we quick to appreciate those who touch our lives in positive ways. I often talk to my children about the importance of telling people their good qualities. Not ridiculous flattery, but a genuine expression of appreciation. A sincere compliment goes a long way toward cementing a friendship, and Anne Shirley knew how to deliver.
Third, Anne allowed Diana the freedom to make different choices than herself as they grew older. This one has been a bit tricky for my children and myself at times. Diana’s choices were pretty tame and they didn’t endanger anyone or break any code of behavior. Anne couldn’t understand some of Diana’s choices, but she never thought they were going to be dangerous to her friend.
One of my daughters had a friend a few years ago that I really thought was going to be her Diana Barry. They were together all the time, but as they got a little older this friend began making some questionable choices. My daughter tried to stay close with this friend but she also cautioned her friend about some of her concerns. This caused a strain on the relationship because her friend either couldn’t see the dangers or wasn’t willing to make different choices. The friendship broke after my daughter was put in a potentially dangerous and uncomfortable situation. They are still friendly, but they aren’t bosom friends.
Would Anne have done the same? We can’t really know, but I feel that Diana Barry would never have asked Anne to watch her self destruct. Diverging paths doesn’t always signal the end of a friendship though, sometimes it can just deepen the bond.
The Search Continues
There will always be a need to seek strong friendships. We can all strive to have loyalty and enduring affection for our friends like Anne and Diana. We can allow our friends to change and grow, even if their choices are different from ours. And we can be grateful that L. M. Montgomery revealed a beautiful friendship for us to emulate.