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Making Friendships Wisely

Having a bond with one’s parents is one of the greatest ways teens and parents can communicate but when teenagers are hard-pressed, they need to know when they should phase out a friendship. As parents, they generally don’t want their teenagers to phase out anyone and everyone who hurts their feelings even slightly. Well, we need to meet somewhere in the middle.

First we need to describe what the building blocks of a good friendship are. They include:
1. Reciprocity and mutuality.  There is mutual give and take in the relationship.
2. There is support and understanding.
3 The relationship characterized mostly by fun and pleasure.
4. There is a sense of inclusion.   A good friend does not encourage you to give up your other friends and or family but vice versa.

Secondly there are the relationships which are considered toxic. These friendships are characterized by:
1. A lack of reciprocity. There is no sense of give and take.
2. One person re-directs all conversations to and about themselves.
3. They deflate you. They don’t share your joys and perhaps even enjoy your failures.
4. They put you down.
5. There is possessiveness and jealousy.
6. There is competitive and dismissive behavior.
7. They gossip about you.
8. They encourage you to get involved in destructive activities.

So, parents, if you see the signs of the second behavior happening within your teens’ friendships, we do not recommend that you force your teens into ending the friendships. However, if they do ask for your input, we recommend that you calmly and not judgmentally suggest that they consider ‘phasing out’ rather than dramatically or suddenly ending these relationships.

Your teens need to preserve their reputations. Encourage them to behave in a gracious manner so that they are not seen as being mean. They should keep in mind that they may continue to travel in the same social circles. When phasing out friendships there should be no leaking of secrets and information that was learned during the friendship. You do not want your teens to give the impression that they can’t be trusted.

And by all means, teach and model gracious behavior in difficult situations. Reputations need to be well-protected!

-by Solani Graniel

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