The Importance of Friendship Essay

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The Importance of Friendship

Although relationships with parents determine in large measure our longer-term preferences, attitudes and values, during adolescence it is often relationships with friends that cause most concern and which pre-occupy the thoughts of young people as they grow up.

Friendships are based on a completely different set of structural relationships to those with parents. They are more symmetrical and involve sharing and exchange. Friendships are important to young children but there is a change at the beginning of adolescence -- a move to intimacy that includes the development of a more exclusive focus, a willingness to talk about oneself and to share problems and advice. Friends tell one another just about
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For instance, as far as young women are concerned, we can trace the development of friendships through an early adolescent period when emotional commitments are minimal and the focus of friendship is common activities, a period in mid-adolescence when young women become most anxious about being rejected or excluded from a same-sex friendship. There is strong emphasis on loyalty and support at this stage:

'...People should remember that you need attention too, and not ignore you and sneak away from you. People who sneak away from you cannot really be your friends in the first place. Sometimes friends gang up on you. So you have to make another friend in another class. That is not pleasant. I should know...'

Friendships become easier for young women in later adolescence as they develop a clearer sense of self identity. Young women of this age show a high regard for each other's individuality and a greater ability to tolerate differences. Young men's friendships rarely achieve the depth of intimacy of young women's. Larger peer groups - the boys' or 'the lads' - often appear more important to them than individual friendships. Young men in middle adolescence describe their friends to researchers in the YPLL team in terms similar to those used by pre-adolescent girls - failing to see emotional support, closeness or security as important qualities of a friendship.

Apart from these general trends, the
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