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Friends and family

Family and friends: What’s the difference?

There’s a big difference between family and friends. We don’t choose our family; we learn to live with them. On the other hand, we choose our friends based on our preferences and our shared interests and because we feel good when we’re with them.

Brothers and sisters

The relationships with your siblings are the longest-lasting ones you’ll have in your life, unless something unforeseen or tragic happens. Your relationship with your sibling(s) will last longer than your relationship with your parents, a lover, or your friends. With a brother or sister, you share unique values, experiences, and family culture. These relationships can be priceless, because our siblings are part of our history.

Types of families

Families are very diverse! There are two-parent families, adoptive, blended, with married or unmarried parents, with same-sex parents; one-parent families; or multi-parent families (where more than two adults share child care responsibilities, perhaps because of a separation). There’s no one-size-fits-all model!

The generation gap

Generational differences can sometimes lead to conflicts with your parents. That’s the generation gap! In adolescence, you’re developing your own identity and questioning the model adults provide for you. Your lifestyle may be different from your parents’, because of new technologies and social media, among other things. In case of a conflict, remain open to their point of view and express your opinion calmly. That will help you all understand each other better.

Choosing friends

We don’t choose our friends in the same way at age 6, 13, and 17. When we’re children, we make friends who live nearby because we can play with them. In elementary school, interests and passions, such as hockey or music, bring us together. Over time, other criteria are added in the choice of friends, such as values and world view. We develop longer-lasting friendships because we know ourselves better and better.

When friends aren’t really friends anymore...

Frequently asked questions

I don’t like something my friend is doing. How can I tell him/her?

Over time, friendships develop: we discover the other person’s faults, and our own needs and interests change. Sometimes the difference makes things better. Other times, it causes a conflict with our values.

Ask yourself if you want to keep this friendship, despite what you’ve found out about your friend. If yes, identify exactly what you don’t like and talk to your friend about it. Calmly tell him/her what you feel and listen to what he/she has to say. Find solutions together so you can both feel more comfortable in this relationship.

Being different from your friends isn’t necessarily a problem. Everyone is unique. We can get on very well with people who are different from us and like them the way they are. Sometimes the differences stimulate us. They show us other ways of doing things and looking at life.

Are there ways to keep our friends?

Relationships develop over our lifetime and sometimes two people go off on different paths. To keep your friends as long as possible, make an effort to be a good friend:

  • be sincerely interested in your friend and what’s important to him/her
  • accept your friend the way he/she is, with all his/her differences
  • cultivate your friendship and invest in the relationship
  • communicate clearly with your friend and listen carefully in return
  • maintain a good balance between what you give and what you get in the relationship
  • respect your friend’s limits and give him/her space to be free

Do you think the other person is a good friend for you? You shouldn’t have to change your personality to keep a friend. Be authentic and find friends who like you the way you are!

My parents are getting on my nerves! Why?

In adolescence, your body and brain are changing. Often, adolescents are overflowing with emotions and feel extra sensitive. You have new needs: you want more autonomy, freedom, and privacy. For their part, your parents want to protect you by supervising you and setting limits. That can lead to conflicts!

When things get tense, first take the time to calm down. Spend some time alone, talk with a friend, or take your mind off things by doing something you like: writing, playing sports, listening to music, etc.

When you feel better, talk to your parents about what you’re feeling and listen to what they have to say. When you discuss things calmly, you’re sure to understand each other.

How can I tell my parents something important?

When you feel ready, choose a time when everyone is available to listen and focus on the discussion. And allow enough time for your parents to react to what you tell them and explore possible solutions with you. Clearly communicate the message you want to give them, speak using “I,” and express what you feel, without being accusing.

Be open to your parents’ reactions and emotions. Your important announcement may take them by surprise and they may need time to mull it over. When they tell you their opinion or decision, ask yourself if it’s acceptable to you. Explore possibilities with them and be patient! Their point of view may change over time.

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