A girl needs a friend
Teenage girls’ friendships can be passionate and powerful. Here’s how it works.
(Getty Images)

Friends are people with whom your teenage daughter can share secrets, compare notes about boys, discuss clothes and fashion, and share worries and anxieties. Girls seem to have close best friends. When things go wrong in girls' friendships, they seem to suffer more. Girls experience more jealousy and rivalry in their close friendships than boys -- and constant changes of best friend can be stressful to all concerned.

The special qualities of friends
• Sharing
• Caring
• Have things in common
• Support
• Courage
• Boost self belief

But there’s also…
• Manipulation
• Spreading rumours
• Threats of rejection
• Excluding from invitations and outings

Why are friends so important to teens?
• Need to belong
• Experimenting with own ideas and identity
• Teens feel uncertain and unsure
• They want to become more independent from their family
• Someone to share teen activities

When it’s good
Girls have a very idealised view of friendship, with positive elements such as acceptance, caring, sharing, loyalty, trust, honesty and kindness.

When it’s bad
But when a friendship breaks up, information that was exclusively and intimately shared in the sanctity of the friendship often becomes the weapon that girls use against the former friend.

Friends of boys.....
For boy teens, friends act primarily as companions, people with whom they can play football, share a joke, hang out and listen to music. Loyalty to groups is important yet doesn’t preclude boys moving between groups. Aggression and rivalry is normally about power play and setting hierarchies. Bullying and physical fighting can happen within and between groups.

Megan de Beyer has a Masters degree in Psychology. She practised in both Cape Town and Durban and has run many successful parenting workshops at high schools.

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