Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Friends: make them, keep them or leave them

Friendship is a relationship with broad, ambiguous, and even shifting boundaries. The terms friend and friendship mean different things to different people and different things to the same people at different times. In spite of friendship’s vague and seemingly indefinable quality, friendships contribute in important ways to psychological development and health and well-being from early childhood through the older adult years.

Little attention was devoted to friendship in early times. However, friendship has at present become one of the more favoured topics. Unlike other important relationships, there are no ceremonies surrounding the formation of a friendship. In fact, friendships rarely begin with two people declaring that, “I will be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.” Rather, friendships develop gradually when two people get on with each other sharing and caring. In the same way when friendships end, there will be no announcement of the decision by one or both parties. Occasionally friendships end abruptly due to obvious breaches of good will such as dishonesty or betrayal. Most often, however, friendships merely fade away as the partners cease doing the things that gave the relationship its meaning. Peer relationships play an important part in a teenager’s life.

Benefits of Friendship

Friends benefit one another in innumerable ways. They listen, encourage, give advice, help with chores, loan money, have fun, exchange trivia, share confidences, and simply “are there” for one another. The specifics vary from time to time and from one friendship to another.

eens tend to spend more time with their peers through which they reap numerous benefits. Friendships provide teens with opportunities to develop conflict resolution skills. Teens can learn how fight and still remain friends. Friends also provide fun and excitement for teens through companionship and recreation. Friends also give advice to one another. Teens talk through lots of issues and problems with their friends. Loyalty is a valued trait in friendship.

Teens are looking for loyal allies that can help them out at school or in their own neighborhood. Friendships also provide stability during times of stress or transition. It is helpful to teens to have a friend who is going through the same situations and can ease the anxieties of the times.

Same gender to other gender

For most teenagers, their early friendships are mostly same gender. Best friends are almost always two boys or two girls. But as teens mature, friendships begin to shift into mixed groups of boys and girls, and later to some level of pairing off. Early teen friendship groups help teens explore their new feelings and get to a comfort level with the opposite sex. This again is a very natural part of the maturing process and if handled properly should not be feared by parents and adults.

Online Friendships

Of course, online friendships are a big part of teen life, and this concerns many parents, who tend to prefer a physical person they can meet and talk to. Through social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and chat rooms, teens can gather friends in cyberspace with a sense of anonymity. However self-presentation is an important part of growing up, and the online space is all about getting feedback on yourself. Teens can try on different identities, blog about real and fantasy issues, and create a daring profile that may attract attention, even to a teen who is plain in real life. However, at times social networking can also have positive effects on teens such as helping introverted adolescents forge relationships or providing a venue for activism. For some teens it is just how they make new friends “I like it.

I just like networking, that is about it,” a teen said. Another boy echoed his sentiments: “When you look at their profile you get to see who they are and see if they might like the same things you like. You might like how they look or something like that.” And for some teens, boys in particular, it is a way to meet and approach potential romantic partners. “If you are just on there and you are looking through and you see a good-looking girl on there and she wants to be my friend and you accept ” a boy said. Although the Internet may give teens a forum, it may also rob them of the richness of real-life friendships. Time spent online, after all, is time not spent with friends and could lessen the social support teens feel.

Issues in friendships

Lots of problems can arise in teen friendships. It can be fighting with a friend, growing apart from a friend, approaching a friend with a problem, dealing with a jealous friend or moving away from a friend, these can impact the life of a teen. Even the best of friends can get jealous of one another from time to time. Regardless of the reason, many teens approach their friendships with an inability to trust others’ loyalty and commitment and fear their friend will replace them with others who are more interesting. In any of the above situations it is best to find a solution through discussion rather than destroying the friendship.

Without friends

What happens when youth do not have friends? Teens without friends tend to be more lonely and unhappy. They tend to have lower levels of academic achievement and lower self esteem. As they get older, they are more apt to drop out of school and to get involved in delinquent activities. Thus friendship is a comfortable and a lovely relationship.

card once my best friend gave me read “A friend is one to whom you can pour out the contents of your heart, chaff and grain alike, knowing the gentlest hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” If you have a good friend to whom you can pour out everything in your heart, you can consider yourself lucky one out there.
Daily News - Ruwanthi ABEYAKOON