The Importance of Quality Friendships

If you ask people what they think is really important in life, having quality friendships is usually high on the list. The Bible says, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Although this line refers to Adam and Eve, it also conveys the importance of not doing life alone. It is good to be friends with your spouse, but why is that not enough? Why do we need friendships beyond the love of our family? While friendships are important throughout life, there are two time periods in life when friendships have a more leading, and sometimes even lifesaving, role.

Friendships in teenager’s lives
Who do we consider real friends? The ones we can count on, right? Those who have our backs, who broaden our minds by sharing their own thoughts, who stop us from making bad decisions, and who encourage us to do the right thing. Real friends become one in spirit with us and love us as ourselves (1 Samuel 18:1). The advantages of having a good friend cannot be summed up in one sentence, or even in one page. Still, parents are often concerned about the company of their teenage children, which is completely understandable. As the Bible says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). The kind of friendships that we keep makes a difference.

Being a teenager is about discovering identity and developing a personality. Part of that process is shaping beliefs, behaviors and opinions by comparing them to others’. Thus, friends can intensify or change each other’s minds. A healthy friendship functions like a compass, not forcing you to go one direction but showing you the right one.

Teenagers are between childhood and adulthood. Teenagers are trying to understand the changes in their bodies, emotions and life in general. They are in a constant search for answers, mostly expecting friends to tell them the right answers. Therefore they spend more time with classmates or kids next door and, in many cases, shut their parents out. The advice they exchange counts a lot; the most important opinion might be their close friend’s.

We should not forget the danger connected to this age: drugs, alcohol, wild parties, premarital sex, romance and suicide. Teenagers might become especially vulnerable to these dangers if they lack healthy friendships. The wrong friendships might make them question their self-esteem and they might also be susceptible to becoming desperate for love, respect and acceptance from their peers.

Most of us have felt the need to fit in. A real friend helps keep this need in check and keeps it on a safe level. It is not about having many friends, but about having real ones.

Friendship in older people’s lives
People over a certain age tend to avoid company. They prefer staying at home and watching TV, reading a book or spending some time with the grandchildren a few days a week. Some eventually isolate themselves out of embarrassment. Being with young people can be intimidating because the elderly cannot hear or speak the way they used to. Or, they might even feel ugly and lame. It is hard to deal with old age, to think about the past and still find motivation and joy in life. Spouses and friends might have passed away, making all their memories seem far away. Death seems more threatening than ever before. Many old people get depressed and find life meaningless, especially those who live alone. They do not feel needed anymore.

There is some interesting research: old people who still have friends live significantly longer than the lonely ones. A close friend gives support and helps them think over their life in a positive way. They are able to share experiences from 20 or even 50 years ago. These friendships between the elderly have a way o putting them in a good mood and motivating them to set new, achievable goals. These kinds of friends can even inspire them to fight an illness.

Old friends make each other still feel needed and interesting. They do not feel the pressure to hide imperfections. Drinking a cup of tea and conversing about old times keeps them from feeling alone. These sorts of same age friendships help them because they have similar memories and deal with the same health problems and life changes.

Quality friendships are essential to healthy living and growth. The movie Bride of Frankenstein put it simply when the monster states, “Alone, bad. Friend, good.”

Zsofia Schindler is a freelance writer. To contact her email her at [email protected] or visit her blog at bakingfootprints.blogspot.com.

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