Ah, teenage friendship. Nothing sweeter than that when you’re a teen — and nothing more exhausting than that when you’re the parent of a teen. But if you’re in the latter group, there’s one type of teenage friendship that you should absolutely encourage your kid to keep — and it might be one that you originally find a bit annoying.
It’s a common complaint for parents to think that their teen is “obsessed” with their best friend. The late night text messages, the constant chitter-chatter about their latest life development, and the over-incessant giggling may seem tiresome. But according to new research, this type of close friendship can lead to a happier and healthier adulthood for your teen.
New research published in the journal Child Development shows that teens aged 15 and 16 who had a close friend, as opposed to a larger group of less intense friendships, reported higher levels of self-worth and lower levels of social anxiety and depression at age 25 compared with their peers who were more broadly popular.
Study leader Rachel K. Narr said she had a hunch that these close friendships and broader popularity likely did not function the same way. As for why that might be, she has a few thoughts.
For one, adolescent friendships are extremely important because they’re the first a kid forms outside of their own family.
“It gives these kids the knowledge that they can build these extra-family relationships,” Narr said.
And another thing: something that makes kids “popular” when they’re teens might not necessarily make them popular when they’re older.
“Being the kid who is drinking or having sex at 25 is not special or unique,” Narr said.
It’s worth keeping in mind that it’s impossible to know whether friendship causes less depression or whether less depressed teens are more prone to make more friends. However, this research definitely adds strength to the idea that friendship is vitally important for youth.
So, time for another sleepover?