The Teenager Today – August 2019

(Barré) #1
Gratian Vas is a former teacher, headmaster, principal and
resource person for educational institutions. In a career
spanning 50 years, he has written over 150 educational
and general books for young readers.

What do teen friendships

look like?

During early teen years, friendships
are more intense, close and
supportive. There is intense
communication with friends.
They tend to be based on personal
similarities, common interests,
acceptance and sharing. Teens
often describe a friend as the one
“who I am comfortable with and
understands how I feel”.

Teen friendships change as
individuals mature. From a wider
circle of friends in middle school,
they move on to fewer but close
friendships as they get older.

Same sex friendships are the norm
during early teens but as they grow
older, there is a shift to the opposite
sex. In general, girls tend to develop
closeness through conversations;
boys do it by sharing activities.

The internet helps teens build
friendships through social
networking. Of course, these
friendships are different from those
of real-life relationships. At best,
they offer teenagers a way to connect
easily and a chance to talk about
sensitive issues without fear of being
judged and a chance to experiment
with identity in a more or less
anonymous way.

What counts in


Big or small, it is the actions and
gestures that count in friendships.
For some, memorable moments of
friends are profound like the one
who helps you through the grief
of losing a family member or sits
by your side when you are ill. For
others, it’s smaller acts like talking
for hours when you are feeling low
even if it means missing out on
important activities or helping you
with homework even when he/she
has not done her own. The mark of
a true friend is what he/she does
to show his/her loyalty, honesty,
trustworthiness, or willingness to

make a sacrifice when you need

Finding the right friend
Making a good friend is almost
like adding a new member to your
family. It comes with risk as well as
responsibility. It is natural that you
want someone who is much like you
in terms of what you like to do and
what you think about persons and
issues like parents, teachers, peers,
drugs and sex.

Friends can influence each other
in positive and negative ways.
Therefore, who you choose to be
your friend is crucial. It is essential
that you choose wisely and that
you benefit from the friendship. For
example, teens involved in sports
or music and performing arts hang
out together. They have the same
schedules. This allows for greater
opportunities before and after events
to do things together. They work on
team-building and other positive
social skills that can affect all areas
of their lives. This helps them to stay
involved and reduce the amount of
time they have to get into trouble.

However, friendships between
teens are not always positive. If you
get involved with the wrong crowd,
you could easily be influenced and
end up doing things you normally
would not do. This can have negative
impact on your family relationships,
school work, grades, attitudes and
decision-making skills.

“Popular” may not
necessarily be “Right”
Hanging out with the most popular
teens may not always be cool. It is
not easy to break into that inner
circle and you may not get the
meaningful friendship you want.
Quite often teens that are very
popular make the worst friends.

They try to maintain their status in
the hierarchy and cannot be trusted.
You do not want to confide in them
and provide them information that
will keep you down in the hierarchy.

Nurturing a friendship
Once you’ve found the right
person you want to be friends with,
work on it to maintain it. Experts
say friendships should develop
gradually in order to last. This can
often be challenging when teens are
involved in extracurricular activities.
Making the right choices and finding
supportive friends are not easy but
the benefits are worth it. Find time
and be available to do things with
your new friend. Don’t appear needy.
A needy friend may be a big turn off.

A key factor in maintaining
a meaningful, rewarding and
satisfying friendship is honesty.
When you are honest with others,
you are trusted. When people trust
you, it makes you feel good about
yourself and it makes people feel
good about you. Having trust in
a relationship also means proving
to each other that you are reliable,
responsible and dependable.

How to drop a friend and
move on
Friendships come and go as you
change and learn more about
yourself. It is normal for friends to
outgrow each other. You change
as you find new interests and
people to hang out with as you
mature. Let your friendship drift
apart gradually rather than in a
showdown. You can downgrade
your friendship by being less
available and spending less time
with the person. This can be difficult
if the decision is one- sided. It is
important not to hurt or blame the
other person.
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