Why Friendships are Important
Friendships can be with peers or with trusted adults. Both are important. Teenage friendships can range from brief or superficial friendships to long-lasting and deep “best friend” relationships. Relationships can be very challenging, but they can provide a lot of benefits that support your journey.
- They bring a sense of connection – not being alone
- Friendships provide companionship – shared experiences
- Different friendships can provide different kinds of support – encouragement, challenge, “having your back”, being role models, helping recover from injuries and setbacks, etc.
- Being a friend provides the opportunity to “be a friend” to others – a chance to bring your best into play – to learn about yourself.
- The challenge of developing and maintaining your friendships is where you learn about friendships and form the foundation for your adult friendships – not an easy challenge, but worth it.
Note. If you don’t have a bunch of deep stable teenage friendships, don’t panic or blame yourself. Teenage friendships are different than childhood friendships and everyone is trying to figure out these new more complex relationships. Teenage friendships can come and go, which is not ideal, but you can be OK on your journey without a lot of long term “best friend” type relationships. It’s great to have them, but they aren’t required. You just have to keep working at developing relationships, learning about yourself and being a friend, and trusting your journey.
Relationships with peers during the teenage years can come and go at a dizzying pace. Teenage friendships become deeper and more important, but they also become more challenging because everyone involved is growing and changing. Everybody is a moving target – experimenting, learning how to relate, discovering who they are and what they want in a relationship. It’s hard to make connections and keep them with all that motion, particularly when you don’t have years of experience with mature relationships.
There is a natural shift in relationship importance from parents to peers in the teen years and that is a healthy move toward independence. It’s part of the necessary changes that happen on the journey to young adulthood, which is why friendships are important to teens. It’s not an either/or issue. Parents remain key relationships, but peers increase dramatically in importance.
There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate..Linda