As my friend Cathy Cassidy says in her foreword to our friend Nicola Morgan’s new book on friends, it’s very much the book we needed when we were teenagers and had to cope without, learning the hard way. Over the years I have slowly come to similar conclusions as Nicola and former agony aunt Cathy, and in a way I no longer need this book. But it’s always good to have your theories confirmed by an expert researcher into teenage needs.
The Teenage Guide to Friends is a book I’d like to put into the hands of lots of young people, because the fact Nicola returns to over and over is that we are all right as we are. We just think we’re all wrong. And those friends you are comparing yourself to are quite possibly not as perfect or happy as they appear.
Understandably there is much on internet use and online relationships. Cyber-space can be both good and bad for finding and keeping friends. It all depends on who they are and what you are looking for. Nicola and Cathy are among my online friends, whom I have moved on to occasionally meeting in real life. I know this is what they are, so to me the friendships are perfect. I know them reasonably well, but not as well as I do others. I like having online friends, and I’m clearly not alone in this.
Nicola carefully untangles problems such as feeling under peer pressure, and how to deal with bullies, and even why bullies bully. She suggests how and where to go looking for friends, and has ideas on how to keep them, but also on how to let go of friendships that aren’t working.
In fact, the whole book is full of what you want for a happy life. You don’t need hundreds of friends. Two is plenty, if that’s the way you are. And you don’t have to see them all the time. For those of us who need more peace and quiet than average, Nicola says this is fine.
The book has quizzes at the end of each section, where you can test yourself on how empathetic you are, or how stress affects you, etc. And there are many pages of suggested further reading, research on relationships, helplines and who to talk to if you need more.
If you know lots of teenagers, I’d suggest buying a stack of Nicola’s guide and hand it out to all of them, regardless of how needy or not they seem. And one for yourself, because you are worth it.
😊 😢 😇