Friends are the new family
You're more likely to eat together, spend time together, holiday together and pull Xmas crackers. Friends are the new family, but why, and when did it all change?
- Keeping parent's approval: As teenagers, we are still actively seeking our parents' approval and do not want to come across as childish. Because of this, adolescents are more likely to be open with friends than their parents, discussing such issues as dating, sexuality, personal experiences, and common interests. In fact, according to a report by Dunn and Deater-Deckard in 2001, 79% of children confide their problems in their mates and not their parents.
- Equality: Friendships are based on mutual voluntary ties between those on an equal footing whereas we are tied by blood to our relatives, and our roles within the family.
- Blush factor: It is also often less embarrassing to talk to friends than parents, who are frankly too wrinkly to know, aren't they?
- Time: Since adolescents spend twice as much time with peers than with parents, peer groups have recently been shown to provide surrogate family support. Smaller families: We have less children today, often opting for just one or two. Friendships fill the roles of brothers and sisters we never had.
When did it all change?
Friends has been a massive hit worldwide, partly because it plays on the new importance of friends today, and their role as a second family. However there wasn't a sudden change in the role of our families - we have gradually moved away from families living, working and playing together in small villages to the scattered-across-the-world model we have today.
As it became more commonplace for women to work rather than staying home with the kids, the whole family structure changed. Relationships and careers pushed family members out across the globe, leaving reunions and communications few and far between.
Our families are left scattered all over the place. Friends, who are usually closer in proximity, become the prime people we spend our time with and confide in.
Our families are left scattered all over the place, placing friends, who are usually closer in proximity, as the prime people we spend our time with and confide in. That's not to say we don't rate our family as important, just that we now have less day to day contact with them, instead turning to our friends for close emotional support, and indeed including our friends in our wider circle of family.
Our fragmented lives are much more stressful than previous generations placing a higher concern with keeping up connections. This may also explain the recent fad for reunions amongst old school friends - because we are less likely to stay in our home town, we quickly lose touch with old friends.
Life is now about the individual and the temporary. Jobs are no longer for life, marriages and long-term relationships are no longer forever and so in their place has come the one constant - our friends, those that had always been there for us. Friendships hold the hope that they will last forever, succeeding where love fails. They'll be there for life.
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