What does friendship look like?
Rebecca Sparrow is Suncorp’s #TeamGirls ambassador and a best-selling author, columnist, podcast host and passionate advocate for teenage girls. Rebecca regularly visits high schools to present to students, and has developed a range of resources to help girls navigate their way through their formative years.
It was a lesson for me.
A few years ago, I started collecting hundreds of anonymous questions from teenage girls for a new book I was writing. "Get out a piece of paper," I'd say to the groups. "Don't put your name on it. And now write out the one question you wish you could ask me without anyone else knowing."
I'd sit there and watch them. Heads down. Elbows and arms acting as barricades as they scribbled down that one thing keeping them up at night. And you know what I thought? I thought, "I bet most of these questions are going to be about boys."
BOYS. Right? WRONG. Oh, how wrong I was.
Time and time again as I unfolded those scraps of paper at home. The questions, both long and short - were about difficulties with friendship. And when you think about it, of course that's what the girls were going to be worrying about. Because when you're 11, 12, 13, 14 the great love of your life isn't a boy. It's your best friend. And that relationship can have dizzying highs and devastating lows. Our friends have the power to lift us up, call forth our best or hold us back and derail us.
Little wonder so many of our girls are lying in bed anxious and stressing about school on a Sunday night. Friendship dramas ranging from exclusion to cyber-bullying to mean girl antics are intensely painful.
It's unsurprising then that in the Suncorp Australian Youth and Confidence Research April 2017, it was revealed that the number one concern of parents of girls aged 13-15 was peer pressure.
"Research carried out by Suncorp discovered that the number 1 cause of concern of parents of girls aged 13-15 was peer pressure."
So how do we help?
The key is to actively teach our girls how to recognise both a healthy friendship and an unhealthy one.
As parents, it's our job to explain the importance of being a good friend and what a strong, positive friendship looks and feels like. On the flip side, teaching our daughters how to recognise a toxic friendship and how to end that friendship is also a vital life skill.
It's worth remembering that making friends and being a good friend is a big learning curve for kids (and adults!). Sometimes our kids will make bad choices. Sometimes our kids will behave badly themselves. But if we keep having these conversations, that's the key to making the right decisions.
What does a good friend look and feel like?
- A good friend is someone who likes you for who you are. You can be your authentic self when you're around them. You don't have to pretend to be something or someone you're not.
- A good friend cheers when you win but also provides support and comfort when you don't. Be wary of any friend who is only there for your successes OR is only around when disaster strikes. A true friend is there for both.
- A good friend is loyal and can be trusted. You can confide in them knowing that they won't betray your confidence or embarrass or humiliate you.
- A good friend is someone who shares your core values.
- A good friend brings out your best not your worst. Ask yourself: "Do I like who I am when I am with my friends?"
- A good friend is someone who is there through the good times and the bad.
- Understand that all friendships have ups and downs.
- When you have a fight with your friend ask yourself, "Is our friendship bigger than this fight?"
This content includes the views and opinions of a third-party, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Suncorp. Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, personal situation or needs.