What Parents Need to Know About Teenage Girls & Friendships

By Sheryl Faber
Teen girls value relationships with their peers.
Teen girls value relationships with their peers.

Teen girls need their friendships. Parents must understand and never underestimate the power and importance of these necessary relationships. High school is not just about grades, athletics and getting ready for college -- the high schools years are formative ones that teach your children socialization and interpersonal skills. Some kids effortlessly sail through these critical years, while others struggle to maintain their identities and their very important friendships.

Friendships Define Them

Teen girls typically identify with their friends, choosing friends who are very similar to themselves in appearance, socioeconomic background and personality. They tend to dress alike and frequent the same places. They are fiercely loyal and depend on each other for support and guidance. In "Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships," authors Terri Apter and Ruthellen Josselson note that when it comes to friendships, "Few girls, or women, would give them up. Many say, 'I don't know who I'd be without my friends.'"

Relationships Categorize Teen Girls

The types of friendships your teen fosters will influence the groups and cliques of which she'll be a part in school. These relationships will give her a sense of belonging, confidence and self-esteem. Being included and part of a desirable group is a goal of many girls all throughout high school. The dynamics of these groups constantly change and being ousted or rejected from a desired clique is often catastrophic for a young girl. Michael Thompson, co-author of "Best Friends, Worst Enemies," writes, "Watching our girls fall in love with their best friends, get their hearts broken, and even do some rejecting themselves, comes with the territory of growing up."

Close Associations Provide Role Models

Just as a favorite, inspiring teacher can influence a teen, a friend your daughter admires and emulates can be a very strong influence on her high school experiences. If this person is a good student and very involved with high school extracurricular activities, she might be an excellent peer mentor for your child. Unfortunately, the reverse is often true. Many teens are initiated into the drug and sex scene by a close and influential friend, so it's important that your child choose her companions carefully and wisely.

Lack of Friendships and Suicide

A major study published in January 2013 in the "American Journal of Public Health" indicates that girls need close personal relationships more than boys -- and when those friendships fail, girls are far more likely to think of ending it all. Teen suicides are often the result of isolation and the loss of friendship, so if a teenage girl admits to considering suicide, and her friends drifting away, it's a definite warning sign that intervention is necessary.