A Parent’s Guide to Friendships

A Parent’s Guide to Friendships

The article covers what it means to have friends and why friendships are essential for our health. The article then covers more in depth the benefits and things to be aware of when it comes to the different types of friendships that teens will experience – including groups, best friends, social media, family, physical intimacy, and romance.

This pdf from axis.org also includes great discussion questions at the end to help initiate and enjoy and great conversation with your teen!

Some quotes from the article:

There are many pieces of friendship, especially in the technological age where friendship is often defined by more than just “the person you spend the most time with”. Some of the dynamics that shape how friendships develop include groups, best friends, social media, family, physical intimacy, and romance. It’s important to recognize and be able to understand the different components of a friendship in order to ensure that they are all being dealt with in a healthy way and none are creating toxicity in the relationship.

Groups can encourage young people to pursue pleasure and intensity of experience, which is often harmless. Roughhousing, running, yelling, and other rambunctious activities are high-energy, high-reward activities that are common to especially young adolescents. As they grow older, reward-based activities can include the sharing of secrets, deep conversations, joking and laughing, and general tomfoolery. These activities can activate the reward centers of teens’ brains by producing oxytocin, a bonding hormone, and endorphins, which make them feel good.

Online friendships aren’t going away. In fact, it will likely be more and more common for children to have friends who exist exclusively online. This isn’t necessarily a problem; it just underscores the importance of teaching good, comprehensive internet safety to children and teens, and keeping open pathways of communication to ensure they feel safe and heard should they find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Biblically, there is evidence for close, physical platonic relationships. David and Jonathan display one of the healthiest friendships found in Scripture, and their love was described as “more wonderful than the love of a woman” (2 Samuel 1:26). Judas betrayed Jesus “with a kiss” (Luke 22:48), which would have been seen as an act of friendship. Paul often ended his letters with the command to “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” In many Middle Eastern, Eastern European, and Asian countries it is normal for men and women to walk hand in hand or with their arms around each other. Only in the West, which has become undeniably sex-obsessed over the last several decades, is physical closeness with friends seen as signifying sexual attraction without a doubt.