The Heart of Friendship Love and your Teen

“A friend is someone who knows all about you, and still loves you”.

We were born to love, both to give and to receive. In a world that is both tainted as much as it is beautiful, our view of love can be skewed, messy, complicated, broken, pure and beautiful all in one. With these complex factors, it all, unfortunately, sort of adds up that domestic violence, affairs, even murder, or suicide exist in the most passionate of relationships. It makes sense in fact, that we as humans have a tendency to lean towards selfishness and stroking our egos that, from time to time, we hurt others when we’ve been hurt, as we set people up to experience how we are feeling in attempt to learn and better understand how to deal with whatever it is that we are facing. In CS Lewis’ book, the four loves, he describes affection as a type of love that is the most humble of loves. CS Lewis describes affection love as being a base for a mixed drink, interesting analogy, but I believe he is stressing the idea that affection love is like a base, its not necessarily good by itself, but it also is imperative to have within all the loves on some level. 

For those of us past our teens, we may vaguely recall what it was like to be in this developmental milestone. The hormones, intensity, the laughter, and tears all helped shape us in ways we maybe even forgot! For those of you still in your teens, I am certain you are facing some of the most joyous of times, while simultaneously facing some of the most tumultuous of times in your life. Being a teen in today’s day and age is not for the faint of heart. Friendship is imperative to develop socially, emotionally and mentally as a teen. 

“There are friends, and there is family. And then there are friends that become family”. 

Teens are in the stage of developing their identity and finding out their place in this world. Their peer group is one of great significance to them, in which they are beginning to separate from their family unit, and more into their peer groups. Teens are finding out their purpose and significance in the world. When friendships are torn, twisted or manipulated, it causes pain, bitterness, feelings of betrayal and need for repair within a teenagers heart. When these friendships are torn, twisted, or manipulated, causing the pain and bitterness, it can also create a feeling of aloneness, which can impact a teens depression and anxiety level. Teens may fear who they will hang out with at lunch, what others are thinking of them, and fear of being rejected. All of this pain from a broken friendship often gets translated into questions of identity and self, when teens begin to really question if this a reflection of their true self. 

Within the last 10 years, connecting relationally has evolved into something many parents and later generations see as foreign. From snapchat to twitter, texting to instagram, these social outlets are far more common means of communication and connection than something such as going to Starbucks for a Frappuccino with your bff. Whether we agree with it or not, understand it or not, social media is the more intuitive and convenient method to attach and connect in today’s modern era. This form of communication and connection manifests unique problems unlike any ever before. As teens and tweens discover what’s popular, trendy, they are simultaneously developing physically, mentally and emotionally. And trust me, its not all developing at the same time. Its awkward, hard, and one of the most confusing of times. Social media plays a large role in that popularity has turned into how many followers or likes you have. This in turn can elicit feelings of depression, social anxiety and problems with attention deficits. 

.Friendship love, at its core calls for loyalty and trust. As teens are developing into their own identity, gradually finding connection outside of family bond, they are searching for friendship. Teens are discovering the type of friend they are, the friend they need others to be, and what their values are. These young and wise souls are finding that not everyone can be trusted, and that hurts. You as a parent or mentor in your teens life are imperative in their overall development through these milestones. Even though it may not always feel like it, or you may feel from time to time, your teen is embarrassed or trying to distance themselves from you, just breathe, and trust you are doing a great job. Remember what it felt like to be in their shoes, and keep striving to speak life and hope into them, knowing you are impacting them and their overall development in magnificent ways. Here are a few great reads for parents of teens that I’d recommend to help you along in your journey: 

“Untangled” by Lisa Damour
“The Teenage Brain” by Frances E. Jensen, MD

If your child or teen is looking for counseling services, feel free to reach out. This journey is a difficult one. And we weren’t meant to go it alone

Amanda Cosel