Are you really there?
By Nabiha Ariff
Sticking by your friend at all times is what, we have all
learnt, is essential in a friendship. Itís always easy to be the
kind of friend who is there for the good times and the laughs
and fun, but steps back when the going gets tough. Itís during
these hard times that friends need each other most but this can,
sometimes, weigh too heavily and scare friends away. It is in
times of trouble that you realise how many friends you really
have or in fact how good a friend you are.
If you donít want to be the kind of friend who lets others down,
youíll need to become a really good listener at supporting your
friends when they need you most. Supporting others doesnít take
any special talents, so there is nothing to fret about.
On the contrary, you just need to let your natural patience and
empathy shine through.
When friends need each other
There can be a great many incidents during the teenage years and
afterwards as well where we realise and need friends leaning on
each other. When your friends turn to you for support, it may be
because you are one of the few persons who can truly understand
what they are going through or most trustworthy among others.
Many times your friends will need support when they face various
kinds of issues. Some of these issues could be:
They have fought with their parents.
Their parents are fighting with each other.
Their parents have decided to divorce.
They are fighting with their
They have just ended a relationship.
They have not been accepted by the college
or university of their choice.
They find out that a friend or family member
They find out that they are ill.
They have suffered a traumatic event.
A friend or family member has died.
Be there when needed
Often when friends are upset, they just want someone to lend an
ear to listen or shoulder to cry on. One of the most important
ways you can support your friend is to simply be there for them,
they donít need specific advice or long lectures filled with
i-told-u-soís, all they need is someone sitting beside them.
Answer their calls, meet them when they ask you to or even
suggest a sleepover so that you can spend time together. If you
really need tips on how to respond in such a situation, try
doing the following while you listen to your troubled friend:
- Ask gentle questions and find out, as much as you can, about
the situation. Do not interrupt them when they talk.
- Repeat the story back to them to make sure you understand the
- Let them scream, cry or even throw dishes if necessary as long
as they vent out their anger in any manner. Well as long as itís
not all on you!
- Empathise with them.
- Do not throw in your own stories. You may see similarities,
but your friend is not going to be in any mood to figure that
out or talk about you.
- Offer advice only in an emergency otherwise wait until your
friend asks for your opinion.
- One important thing to keep in mind is that your body language
says a lot about how you feel. Either nod to show agreement and
or give an encouraging smile.
- Try distracting your friends thoughts by coming up with a
topic that interests them.
- Consider taking the friend for, a trip to the cinema or
spending an afternoon shopping.
- You could even decide on taking a daytrip to some place close
by where you know your friend would enjoy.
Know when to act
It is important to remember that while you can support your
friends when they need you, you canít solve their problems
entirely for them. Sometimes you will realise that your friends
need more help or support than you alone can provide, and
knowing when to ask for assistance is very important. Even if
your friends have asked you to keep a secret, if you are
uncomfortable with this and personally feel it would be risky
keeping this secret you should immediately inform your friendís
parents or guardians.
Supporting your friends when they need you is a skill that will
serve you well throughout your life. Be yourself, be patient and
then you will realise that supporting a friend in need makes you
a good friend, indeed.