The Importance of Friendship in Adolescence
During the teenage years, friends are a source of support, but also influence and pressure. Keep reading to learn more about friendship in adolescence.
Adolescence is a stage full of life changes and transitions. Commonly, during these years, a group of friends becomes a basic pillar of your children’s lives. However, it’s also a great influence. Find out the importance of friendship in adolescence in this article.
Importance of friendship in adolescence
From an early age, human beings have the need to interact with others. We crave emotional bonds and sharing. In fact, this social trend stays with us throughout our lives.
However, the role of friendship in adolescence is especially important. As we all know, these are years full of transitions and changes. Everything changes – physically, cognitively and emotionally.
We stop being children, but we aren’t adults yet. There are more responsibilities, and a strong desire arises to discover our own identity. In this process, it’s common for teens to try to disconnect from their parents and start to spend more time with their friends.
At this stage of life, teens might even be spending more time with friends than family. Outings with friends become more frequent and last longer. In fact, these friends become confidants, part of their identity, and indispensable.
Influence of teenage friendships
The structure of friend groups in adolescence is changing. During preadolescence, it’s more common for teens to have same-sex friend groups. These types of groups make teens feel protected and confident.
As they get older, teen friend groups get bigger, and they’re made up of both sexes. Usually, this is around the time when teens start dating.
What does friendship in adolescence give teenagers?
- Friends serve as references to create their identity and define their own values. When they question adult norms and come up with new ideas, they turn to their friends for advice and guidance. Unlike parents, they find people who are likely to understand them and not judge them.
- They’re a source of understanding, openness and mutual support. Since they go through the same things, friend groups help each other through the physical, psychological and social changes that happen in adolescence.
- They’re the first close, intimate and intense relationships that teens experience. Friendship in adolescence gets them ready for social interactions in adulthood.
- Of course, friends offer fun, excitement and recreation. In addition, they offer a feeling of belonging and shared experiences.
- Friendship in adolescence is also a source of influence for teens. Whether positive or negative, there’s definitely a sense of peer pressure.
What can we do as parents?
Adolescence is a stage where friends become more important to teens than their parents. Although lots of parents feel sad about this, it’s important to remember that this is something natural and healthy.
Likewise, it’s true that parents continue being important in their children’s lives. Often, parents will need to act as guides.
- From childhood, help your children develop a healthy self-image and self-confidence. This will help them stand firm in their own values in the face of peer pressure. Then, they won’t feel like they need to be accepted by others, no matter the cost.
- Meet your child’s friends. However, it’s important to not criticize them, because teens can take this personally. It’s more positive to try and meet them. In fact, you can even invite them over.
- Love and accept your teen. Be a safe haven for them, promoting sincere communication without judgements. Also, give them unconditional support and love.
- Monitor the use of social networks and the negative influence of friends. If you see dangerous peer pressure, like using drugs or harassment, don’t hesitate to seek professional help, if necessary.