Teen Perspective: Building Relationships
1 AnswerEllen Rome, MD, Pediatrics, answeredCommunication is the key to any relationship. In this video, Dr. Rome reveals a common place where family bonding can be strengthened.
Peer pressure is when another person or a group pressures you to do something that may not reflect your own wishes or values. The pressure can be subtle: an unspoken understanding that if you don’t take a drag on that cigarette, you will become persona non grata in this social circle. Or it can be overt, as when everyone at the party starts chanting “Chug! Chug! Chug!” and won’t stop until you do. Many people put their friends’ needs, whims, and demands above their own.
Sometimes this can be noble and altruistic, as in doing something nice for a friend who is going through a hard time. But at other times, the requests may do you more harm than good. The trick is knowing which is which--and keeping yourself out of harm’s way while being able to take some safe risks. Peer pressure occurs when you throw that rational side of you out the window at your own expense--and sometimes with life-threatening consequences.
Almost all people have diff erences of opinions--in fact, life would get boring otherwise. How you handle an argument can make or break a relationship however, and not all of us get great role modeling at home on this one; remember, nonverbals contribute a lot to communication. In an argument, is your significant other belittling you? That’s a bad warning sign and can do awful things to your self-esteem. Does he or she threaten or hit you?
That should be a relationship deal breaker. People may modify their habits, but that one is a learned behavior that is incredibly hard to change. You can’t divorce your parents, but you sure can choose what sort of behaviors you tolerate in a significant other.
Does your partner listen and let you get your viewpoint out? Do you afford him or her that respect and courtesy? This is a learned skill, and a useful one. Just like learning to play a sport or musical instrument, it defi nitely takes practice, as it is not intuitive to most of us when the stakes are high and our emotions are turned up in volume.
Here are some simple rules for argument engagement:
- What do you want to get out of the argument?
- What do you not want to have happen?
- What does your partner think? Try to listen first, before responding, and make sure your partner knows that his or her viewpoint has been received loud and clear. A good way to communicate this is to reflect it back, “What I’m hearing you say is . . .” Put yourself in the other person’s shoes before speaking.
- What can you agree on?
What do you like to do? What defines you? Are you half Latino and half African American? Join both groups and savor the best of both cultures. If someone wants you to be all of one group, and nothing of your other half, figure out if that is desirable or unrealistic for you. Do you like all sides of yourself ? What are attributes of both sides of your family that you cherish and respect? Can’t find any? Think of caring adults with whom you can identify and “adopt” aspects of them to help you sort out which group works for you.
In school, groups often share a passion: cooking, French, robotics, sports, scouting, and so on. Out of school, groups can be formal or informal. We advise finding groups where some or all of the interaction involves face time--those mirror neurons don’t respond to text.
There are also groups that bring together people who have shared a common trauma, such as the High Five Club for five-year cancer survivors (at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital), the Alopecia Areata club for those who have had a medical illness that caused them to lose all their hair, Al-Anon for family members of people with alcoholism. These groups can help turn a potentially negative experience into one where the pain is shared, glory with the joys of the present and future are shared. Service groups make you feel good, which has a positive impact on your looks and well-being, because if you feel good on the inside, your outside tends to radiate that energy in a good way.
And there are also groups that are linked together through religion and/or church. The point is: Many groups out there provide the deep emotional connections between people who share passions. Chances are, you’ll find yours--it usually just takes a little looking.
1 AnswerJ.Lucy Boyd, Epidemiology, answered
The most important thing you should know is that it is not your fault. Parents divorce when one or both of them decide (or figure out) that the lifelong commitment they made was based on false information, or that they do not feel the same way they did when they married. Sometimes, even though couples pledge to remain together for better or for worse, they actually have "deal breakers" in their minds. In other words, they feel that if their partner doesn't meet their expectations in some way, they will "cancel" the marriage and get a divorce.
Sometimes, divorcing parents got married because they felt "in love" or they felt attracted to each other. These are feelings that can change over time, and, if that is all the relationship was based on, instead of being based on friendship or a strong sense of partnership, it can fail.
When you grow up, you will likely have a better understand of why your parents are divorcing. For now, know that it isn't your or your siblings' faults and that your parents will always be your parents and your family.
1 AnswerRaychelle Lohmann, MS, LPC, Psychology, answered
Here are few tips to help you protect yourself online:
- Don't give out your personal information online. That means your full name, address, where you go to school, where you work, or who your parents are. With the internet it’s easy to find someone and then zoom in via satellite to where they live. Scary thought!
- Only accept "true" friends on your social networking sites.
- Have privacy settings on at all times, so only those you trust can access your information.
- Don't post anything that you wouldn't want your parents seeing. Plus, bear in mind, college representatives and future employers will most likely search for you on the internet. Make sure your online reputation is squeaky clean.
- Don’t trust anyone, especially if you don’t know them from face to face encounters. People lie and all you are seeing are words on a screen. Even if you’re on Skype or FaceTime, who is to say the person is who they say they are?
- Date people you know from school, work, church, synagogue, etc.
- Don’t post questionable or risqué pictures of yourself. This includes those sleepover, beach or pool vacation pics.
- Don't let meet people you've met online alone. Rather meet with a group of friends for your first encounter.
- Do create a half-way profile, that doesn't reveal too much. Only half-way describe yourself on your site. As far as pictures go, post a pet or better yet an Avatar.
- Do search the internet for people. Do a little digging on your own to learn what you can about your online friend. Next click images and see what photos pop up.
1 AnswerCharles Sophy, Psychiatry, answeredDepending on your developmental stage, your parents’ divorce will change your life to the extent that you allow their divorce to significantly affect you, either positively or negatively; that is, the impact is by the way you perceive their divorce, adjust to the split or blended family situation, and manage the stressors of life.
1 AnswerMichele Borba, Psychology, answeredBefore going to any party, always tell a friend the address of where you are going. Know who is giving that party. Is it someone you trust? Go with a friend so you can look out for one another. If there is drinking involved, take a pledge that one of you will remain the sober designated driver or just sober. If others crash the party, it may be wise to leave.
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1 AnswerKaren R Koenig, Psychology, answered
To make better friend choices, don’t:
- Keep friends just because you feel bad for them or are afraid to cut them loose.
- Accept ongoing excuses from people who cannot live up to your reasonable expectations about friendship.
- Keep on doing for people who don’t give back to you in return.
- Take an ongoing part in relationships in which a friend wants you to be her mother, can’t admit to being wrong, is a perpetual victim, or has to have the last word.
- Wear blinders, ignore red flags, or avoid seeing the truth about alleged friends.
- Believe you don’t need friends and can take care of yourself emotionally without them.
- Spend a lot of time with people you don’t enjoy or who don’t add to your life.
- Try to fix friends’ problems; instead support them in fixing their own problems.
- Let other people pressure you into staying friends with someone for his own reasons when it is not in your best interest.
- Pal around with people who aren’t introspective and self-reflective, can’t laugh at themselves, and refuse to go into therapy if they have severe dysfunctions.
- Keep company with friends who see themselves as living under a black cloud, because they’ll only make you feel helpless and push you into a caretaking role.