The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Adults undervalue teen friendships. Here's how to support them.

By Emily Laber-Warren

05 Jul 2022 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

This WaPo story gives parents tools to approach teen friendships in a way that's not too dismissive or too probing of your child's choices.

In middle school, Bryan James Robles joined the track team mostly to keep up with his three closest friends. Running turned out to be transformative for him, instilling not only discipline but also academic excellence, because he needed good grades to stay on the team. But in 10th grade, Robles blew a key race and did not qualify for the state championships for which he'd been training all year, mile after mile in the hot sun. "I told my parents I was going to quit. I'm done," he recalls. But his buddies said: "You got this. Pick yourself up." He did, and he made it to the championships the following year.

It's a long way - and not only in miles - from Rio Rancho, N.M., where Robles grew up, the child of Mexican immigrants who speak little English, to New York University, where he recently completed his freshman year. Naturally timid, Robles, 19, says he never would have had the grades or the guts to go to college so far from home if it hadn't been for his best friends and the ways they supported and challenged him.

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