I hope that many of you are enjoying your time at the fair this week? For many it is almost like a reunion as many seem to return “home” for the fair. For others, it may be the only time we see friends through the year. Might I challenge you to take advantage of this and make it a point to schedule additional time to spend together? As a wise person once told me “It takes a long time to grow old friends” and relationships take an investment of time. When we share this example with our kids, we are really helping them build external assets according to the Search Institute.
Teens need friends to help them learn about themselves and to learn how they fit into the world. Friendship is an essential part of normal development and provides the opportunity for teens to learn about different people and improve their social skills. While we can’t always pick their friends, we can reinforce what healthy relationships look like:
· When both people care about each other
· When they understand and respect each other and are responsible for each other
· When they solve problems together and communicate with honesty
· When they share at least some of the same goals and values, and are headed in the same direction
We may also help teach that not all relationships are positive, and that if relationships involve manipulation and jealousy, negative talk and dishonesty or blaming each other for their problems, it might not be a good place to be.
Friendships teach loyalty, responsibility to others, democratic ideals, how to give and take, working towards common goals, solving conflicts, cooperation and just how to communicate or carry on a conversation. These friendships will eventually help as they begin dating, have long term relationships and marriage.
One study found that 29 percent of a teen’s waking time was spent with friends. Less than 5 percent of time was spent alone with parents. Another study found that 31 percent of children have best friends who serve as a positive peer influence. These statistics point out how important friendship is, with emphasis on choosing our friends wisely.
As you meet up with friends, reflect on the above and think about how long you’ve known each other and what experiences have tied your past together? How important is it that you continue for your future? Teens tend to pattern their own friendships on what they learn from their parents. One of the best ways parents can influence their teens is to make wise choices and demonstrate good relationships for them.
If you are on the fairgrounds the rest of the week, don’t forget to stop by the Grange Rotunda (the white round building) to check out all of the OSU Extension displays and the daily demonstrations that will be going on.