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Friends Vs Parents
"a true friend is one who sympathizes with your troubles even when they are not so bad." teenagers are closer to friends than parents. The attachment with friends is so strong that teenagers give more preference to friends than parents. Support of friends is good at times of despair, but this dependence can also lead to unhealthy practices like drugs and alcohol.
Everyone needs to belong, to feel connected with others and be with others who share attitudes, interests, and whose circumstances that resemble their own. People choose friends who accept and like them and see them in a favourable light. Friends are of great importance in ones life.

Most of your activities and actions are in someway or the other governed by the likes and dislikes of your peers. Right from choosing what to wear, the movies to watch, the music you listen to and the places you hang out at; to serious choices of the boy or girl you date and even serious subjects, like the career options you take up, are influenced by your peers.

As psychiatrist Dr Jitendra Nagpal who is working with lots of issues concerning the youth, says, "In todays urban world influence of peers is increasing. Decision making with reference to relationships, careers and even the issue of independent living are all influenced by the friends you hang out with."

He adds, "The reliability and validity of the decision based on peer approval, in many cases, stand more ground than even that of the parents."

This, he explains, is because of the widening gap between society and families. The society, he says, has modernized while the basic family structure still remains traditionally inclined. He says, "While sex is still a taboo in most families, youngsters find it easy to talk about issues of sexuality and intimacy with friends and peers. This in a way increases the comfort level between friends and encourages dependence of the youngster on the friends and not the family," says Nagpal.

Peer groups-the positives
Contrary to the belief that peer influence is negative, it is important for the personal, social development of a youngster. Here are a few of the positive influences of the peers that are important for the development of a teenager:
They give a sense of belonging and they feel valued.
Peers help people connect.
They help increase self-confidence as the group accepts them.
They give them a sense of security and of being understood by others who are going through the same experiences.
They offer a safe place to test values and ideas.
Help in the move towards independence.
Practice in getting along with the opposite sex.
Ways to meet new people.
Friendship.
Practice learning to give and take.
Influence in making decisions about their life.

When parents dont approve
Parents, however, are usually not very confident about their childrens choice when it comes to peer groups. This could be due to the changing behaviour of the children as they become more independent. In some serious cases this can be due to more serious issues such as the peer group being into alcohol or drugs, skipping school and shoplifting.

Here are some suggestions for parents to look into so as to understand the choices made by their children:
Remember that criticizing your teens choice of friends is like attacking them personally.
Keep the lines of communication open and find out why these friends are important to your teenager.
Check whether your concerns about their friends are real and important.
If you believe your concerns are serious, talk about his/her behaviour, not the friends.
Encourage your kids to trust their own sense of what is right, and discuss ways of saying no.
You have the right to let your teenager know what your concerns are and to ask how they will cope if pressured to make risky choices.
Talk with your teenager about the immediate and long-term consequences of the behaviour thats worrying you.
Support your teenagers self-esteem and show them that you trust them.
Remember that we all learn valuable lessons from mistakes.
Encourage them to mix with other young people.
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Posted on : 31/10/2005
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