Peers Relationship As peer relationships become more central to their lives, there is less time available to spend with their family members. However, the lack of time is not the only reason for this shift away from family. The quality of peer relationships changes during adolescence. These qualitative changes are due to greater cognitive and emotional maturity. As adolescences become more emotionally mature their relationships with their peers become more trusting, and more emotionally intimate. Cognitive development enables youth to better understand and anticipate the wants, needs, and feelings of their peers. This increased mental and emotional maturity means that adolescents are now better able to offer genuine emotional support and comfort to each other, as well as sensible advice. Thus, the family is no longer the only source of social support.
Social and emotional maturity are intertwined adolescences' emotional maturity increases their relationships with their peers change as they become more vulnerable and emotionally intimate with their peers. This increased vulnerability and intimacy requires greater trust among peers. Thus, during the adolescent years, adolescence peer groups become increasingly important as adolescences experience more closeness in these friendships and more gratifying relationships with their peers as a result. Adolescences now turn to one another, instead of their families, as their first line of support during times of worry or upset. This increased reliance on friendships is yet another way that adolescences demonstrate their growing independence
Peers Relationship During early and middle adolescent years, there is usually more frequent conflict between teens and their parents. Often, this is because youth are trying to assert their individuality and are exercising their independence. As discussed in the Self-Identity Section, youth may rebel against their parents' rules and values as part of their identity development process. Sometimes youth openly defy these rules and values, while at other times they do so in private. They may be reluctant to discuss certain topics with their caregivers when they are afraid that such a discussion will get them into trouble. Another reason youth may refrain from discussing certain things with their parents is to prove to themselves, and to their parents, that they can handle life's tough situations on their own. Instead, when teens turn to their friends for help, they are consulting with each other from a position of equal power and status, which is quite different from consulting with Mom and Dad.
Because acceptance by a peer group becomes so important, teens may modify their speech, dress, behavior, choices, and activities in order to become more similar to their peers. This increased similarity among peers provides them a sense security and affirms their acceptance into their chosen peer group. The developmental theorist, Erik Erickson, described this developmental step as a crisis of identity vs. identity confusion.
When teens modify their choices or behavior in order to conform to what their friends are doing, they are answering to peer pressure. Peer pressure is often associated with negative outcomes such as skipping school, wearing distasteful clothing, or alcohol and other drug use. However, many parents do not recognize that peer pressure can also exert a positive influence. Because of advanced cognitive and emotional maturity, teens can now encourage each other to make wise decisions, and discourage each other from making harmful choices. Since it is important for youth to "fit in" with their peer group they may also decide to participate in the same hobbies or activities as their friends. This enables them to spend more time together and to bond over shared experiences. In general, teens will gravitate toward peer groups with whom…