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18.04.2007 Editorial

Friends For Keeps

Friends play a big role in shaping our lives, introducing us to new things and ideas, sharing our dreams and helping us to plan our future.

A good, strong friendship is a wonderful thing. It contributes to your emotional growth because it teaches you how to be close to someone.

Good friendships also contribute to building your self-esteem. If you have a good friend, you feel good about yourself.

It is nice to have someone to confide in, and it's also nice to know that someone else feels comfortable confiding in you.

You can bounce ideas off a good friend without being laughed at. You can share secrets and know they will be kept. It is nice to know that your friend would like and respect you even when you disagree over something.

Through a close friendship, you can learn how to agree and disagree. You learn how to be strong enough to have your own opinions. Being able to stand up for yourself and what you believe is right is a life skill.

It's important for your future and for all your relationships with other people. In fact, friends help you to build any important skills which you need to succeed in life — skills such as the abilities to:

• Communicate well and be open about your feelings and thoughts.

• Listen and understand someone else's feelings and opinions.

• Be supportive when someone is in trouble or feeling down.

• Negotiate (for example, when you and a friend disagree over something, you may have to negotiate some compromise or middle ground between you).

• Co-operate, work together and share responsibility.

• Accept and respect differences of opinions, beliefs and practices (for example, you and your friend may not always agree on everything, but that's okay).

Friends start becoming especially important during adolescence because many young people feel shy talking to adults.

Good, strong friendships take time and effort to build. They don't happen overnight and you don't find true friends every day. So keep your friends.

However, there may be times when someone you thought was a friend turns out not to be a good friend. For example, when a friend reveals your secrets to others or spreads nasty rumours about you, he or she is not acting the way a true friend should.

This can be very painful, but it is part of life. Try talking to the person and ask him or her to stop doing whatever it is that upsets you.

If the friend doesn't stop treating you badly, stay away from him or her. Losing a friend can be painful, but you will find more trustworthy friends.

Friends can also be a source of pressure — specifically peer pressure, which is a big source of worry for parents.

Negative peer pressure sometimes makes young people do things which are wrong, like take alcohol or drugs or even commit crimes. Such pressure can also make young people have sex when they don't really want to.

There may even be times during adolescence when you feel as though you don't have close friends. This can make you feel lonely, sad and anxious about yourself.

Don't worry that there is something wrong with you. Maybe you are a little more mature than your peers. As you grow older and meet new people, you will make wonderful, strong friendships. Be patient and it will happen.

Article by Fanny Nana Ampon

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."