Many theorists have argued that there is a great significance of establishing close and strong relationships. Friendship is believed to offer youths a special kind of development. It offers emotional and social support, and instrumental resources. They assist youths in developing skills in problem solving and perspective taking, and also in building a positive self-esteem. The nature of friendship and their purpose always shift as the children grow and develop into adolescents. During childhood, friendship is meant for playmates, while during adolescent, friends act as confidants who offer emotional support to their colleagues.
Difference in gender also do emerge as children develop towards adolescence. Research shows that girls tend to grow more unstable in their friendship with boys (Mendelson and Aboud, 1999). Adolescent boys tend to favor verification of agency or status, while girls put more significance in affirming connectedness in their friendship. Research shows that girls tend to value friendship more than boys and this always makes them vulnerable to some major problems in the friendship.
Having considered these facts, there is therefore need to examine roles friends play as both harmful and beneficial to the development of youths. The purpose of this paper is investigate the importance and of adolescent disclosure to best and good friends, and to discuss the overall effects of gender and topic of intimacy.
Development to Adolescence
Friendship always begin as early as 18 to 36 months of age. At this age the importance of the friendship is cored on shared effect and preference. Their concept begin with play and physical proximity. With time, they tend to grow more intimate and reciprocal. Regardless of the fact that the early friendship do not have social and emotional quality, children end up acquiring significant social skills and moral reasoning through the friendships.
Research shows that quality of friendship tend to increase from grade school to high school and the urge to share overall companionship and intimacy tend to become more powerful as children approach adolescence (Miller and Kenny1986). Moreover, conflicts that emerge during late adolescence have been investigated to happen less frequently as compared to such cases in early adolescence.
Relative to younger children, many adolescent expect less parental support and support from their friends. While adolescents see that offering friends some independence and autonomy leads to a stronger relationship, early adolescents demonstrate friendship in overly exclusive terms. With the view of maintaining higher quality and stronger bond, adolescents sensitize the significance of self-disclosure and intimacy in their friendship. Intimacy tend to play a basic role in friendship and any attempt to deeply understand the difference is social identities are assisted by the close friendship.
The amount of conflicts and their resolutions have been shown to increase as friends develop and they are more likely to happen when the friendship becomes more intimate. Moreover, intimacy development and their cognitive advances exposes them to more complicated strategies of conflict solving. It can therefore be argued that increase in intimacy and conflicts play a significant role in the development of resolutions as adolescents mature. These skills are significant for the development of adolescents as they mature to become adults.
Topic of Disclosure
Generally, youths disclosure more intimate information to friends than non-friends. The disclosure topics can depend on gender of the parties. Conversation of girls with their best friends tend to be tightly based on smaller number of topics as compared to that of boys. Studies regarding interpersonal relationship argues that adolescents approach friendship with a given kind of orientation that in most cases are gender-specific (Moran and Eckenrode, 1991)). Girls tend to talk more about relationships and appreciate peer approval, while boys are activity-focused. To be more specific, girls share more information regarding interpersonal concerns and problems while boys share problems associated with activities. Other types of problems that girls are likely to discuss include parents, peers, romantic partners, academics, and family problems.
Adolescents respond to disclosure in several ways. According to a research conducted by Underwood and Rosen, there are five main reasons why adolescents disclosure. These are: they do it with the view to receiving validation of their social class, to manage impression of others of their own self, to attain self-clarification, to enhance development of their relationships, and lastly to exercise their own self-expression (Underwood and Rosen, 2009))
Social psychologist asserts that adolescents tend to respond to disclosures with some kind of their own disclosures. This is referred to as reciprocity of self-disclosure.
There is also tendency of anxious and depressed adolescents to evoke unintended negative responses from their friends. Thomas and Daubman argue that depressed adolescents tend to look for reassurance about important others feel for them (Thomas and Daubman, 2001)). But in actual sense, when one offer assurance, the depressed individual become skeptical about the support and needs further reassurance. Adolescents may also respond to disclosure in a manner that is neither negative nor positive. In this case, their response tend to be more conversational. Co-rumination refers to the excessive discussion of problems within a friendship. It mergers the concept of intimate disclosure with interactive and social rumination forms. Co-rumination involves frequent discussion of problems, repetition of the same issue, speculation about issues, and mutual encouragement.
Gender Difference and Quality of Friendship
Many studies have been conducted to identify disparities that exist in the quality of friendship. Generally, friendship involving boys tend to be more stable and is characterized with more conflict, while that of girls is more intimate. This can be owed to the fact that boys are more competitive in nature. Friendship among school girls is characterized by self-disclosure, companionship and higher intimacy as compared to their boys counterparts. This is because friendship involving girls is more exclusive.
Studies also show that gender differences also play a significant role in resolving conflicts. One research shows that compared to boys, girls are highly likely to apply solution-oriented strategies and less control-oriented strategies in solving conflicts among them (Windle, 1996). Solution-oriented strategies are more related to intimacy in a friendship. That is, friends who tend to share more personal information with one another are highly likely to be more considerate of the feeling of their when a conflict arises.
In some ways, socio-cultural factors also play roles friendship quality development. Quality of friendship among adolescent boys improved at a steeper rate as compared to that of girls over a given period. This can be due to the fact that socially, boys have the more opportunity to grow in terms of quality than girls.
Adolescents and Risky Behaviors
Peer influence has been shown to be one of the major factors that promote risky behaviors among adolescents. An adolescent who frequently finds himself or herself in risky behaviors is highly likely to a friend of such a person. Moreover, drug use and peer pressure have been related to increase in drug use among youths. For example, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana among best friends have been shown to be the greatest contributing factor to smoking habit among 8 to 12 years old adolescents. In addition to that, other negative characteristics such as formation of gangs have been proved to promote risky behavior.
Little time have been put in place to determine how quality of friendship play part in influencing risky behaviors. There is a study that showed that poor quality of friendship has a role in aggressive behavior and conduct disorder among adolescents. By being hostile and aggressive with their colleagues, adolescents who have aggressive behaviors are highly likely to be rejects among their peers. This have been shown to lead to low quality of friendship. Regarding sexual behaviors, adolescents have been shown to be at a very high risk. Among that factors that influence sexual behavior among adolescents are peer characteristics, racial identity and working during adolescent. A research showed that working during adolescence leads to higher chances of involvement in sexual activity among adolescents, something that might lead to higher chances of risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex and sexual activities with older partners. The research also shows that peer sexual behavior is the leading cause of risky sexual activities. In general, the relationship between risky behaviors and quality of friendship may be different between girls and boys by age. This is due to the fact that boys tend to engage is risky behavior much earlier as compared to girls.
Need For High Quality of Friendship
Getting well socialized can be advantageous to adolescents in providing a protective measures during their development. Having good and supportive friends can lead to positive development results such as self-confidence, sociability, and self-esteem. Moreover, greater social skill have been shown to be related to higher adaptation levels and lower depression levels.
It has also been shown good friendship has great benefits especially when one is in a challenging situations. Studies show good friendship prevent stress and its related complications. A study conducted among 5th graders showed that high quality of friendship offered protection against problems related to behavior adjustments (Nolen-Hoeksema and Girgus, 1994)). On the contrary, it has been shown that being isolated socially and having no friends can heighten externalizing and internalizing problem among adolescents. Much as it has been proven that friendship offer protective mechanism among adolescents, it should be noted that stress caused by negative events in the friendship can adversely affect the relationship. Friendship support ill only be a protection if the friendship surmounts the stressors. It is however possible that adolescents can meet new friends after or during the stressor, something that might assist in providing support. In addition, with a stressor such as sexual harassment, it may be significant to have a friend who has been a victim of a similar situation. Friends who have not been exposed to acts of sexual abuse may not be fully privy of the emotional burden brought about by such an experience. There is also possibility that just having a friend who offers emotional support can be enough to assist overcome the stress or depression caused by sexual abuse.
The overall purpose of this paper was to investigate the importance and of adolescent disclosure to best and good friends, and to discuss the overall effects of gender and topic of intimacy. This paper not only looks into detailed information about disclosure, but also explores how having good and best friend assists adolescents in the face of several challenging situations. It also addresses issues about good friendship that may end up being bad influences. This paper therefore digs deeper into healthy preventive and intervention measures that can help protect adolescents from negative development results, for example, risky behaviors that they may attract from their peers.
Thomas, J. J., & Daubman, K. A. (2001). The relationship between friendship qual...
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