friendships, relationships. psychology
via Wait But Why and used with permission

The ten types of friends

This article originally appeared on 03.11.16


This post was originally published on Wait But Why.

When you're a kid, or in high school or college, you usually don't work too hard on your friend situations. Friends just kind of happen.

For a bunch of years, you're in a certain life your parents chose for you, and so are other people, and none of you have that much on your plates, so friendships inevitably form. Then in college, you're in the perfect friend-making environment, one that hits all three ingredients sociologists consider necessary for close friendships to develop: “proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other." More friendships happen.

Maybe they're the right friends, maybe they're not really. But you don't put that much thought into any of it — you're still more of a passive observer.

But once student life ends, the people in your life start to shake themselves into more distinct tiers.

It looks something like this mountain:


via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

At the top of your life mountain, in the green zone, you have your Tier 1 friends — the people who feel like brothers and sisters.

These are the people closest to you, the ones you call first when something important happens, the ones you love even when they suck, who make speeches at your wedding, whose best and worst sides you know through and through, and whose relationship with you is eternal; even if you go months or years without hanging out, nothing has changed when you find yourself together again.

Unfortunately, depending on how things went down in your youth, Tier 1 can also contain your worst enemies, the people who can ruin your day with one subtle jab that only they could word so brilliantly hurtfully, the people you feel a burning resentment for, or jealousy of, or competition with. Tier 1 is high stakes.

Below, in the yellow zone, are your Tier 2 friends: your Pretty Good friends.

Pretty Good friends are a much calmer situation than your brothers and sisters on Tier 1. You might be invited to their wedding, but you won't have any responsibilities once you're there. If you live in the same city, you might see them every month or two for dinner and have a great time when you do, but if one of you moves, you might not speak for the next year or two. And if something huge happens in their life, there's a good chance you'll hear it first from someone else.

Toward the bottom of the mountain in the orange zone, you have your Tier 3 friends: your Not Really friends.

You might grab a one-on-one drink with one of them when you move to their city, but then it surprises neither of you when five years pass and drink #2 is still yet to happen. Your relationship tends to exist mostly as part of a bigger group or through the occasional Facebook Like, and it doesn't even really stress you out when you hear that one of them made $5 million last year. You may also try to sleep with one of these people at any given time.

The lowest part of Tier 3 begins to blend indistinguishably into your large group of acquaintances (the pink zone): those people you'd stop and talk to if you saw them on the street or would maybe email for professional purposes but whom you'd never hang out with one-on-one. When you hear that something bad happens to one of these people, you pretend to be sad but you don't actually care.

Finally, acquaintances gradually blend into the endless world of strangers.

And depending on who you are and how things shook out in those first 25 years, the way your particular mountain looks will vary.

For example, there's Walled-Off Wally:

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

And Phony Phoebe, who tries to be everyone's best friend and ends up with a lot of people mad at her:

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Even Unabomber Ulysses has a mountain:

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Whatever your particular mountain looks like, eventually the blur of your youth is behind you, the dust has settled, and there you are living your life.

Then one day, usually around your mid- or late 20s, it hits you: It's not that easy to make friends anymore.

Sure, you'll make new friends in the future — at work, through your spouse, through your kids — but you won't get to that Tier 1 brothers level, or even to Tier 2, with very many of them because people who meet as adults don't tend to get through the 100+ long, lazy hangouts needed to reach a bond of that strength. As time goes on, you start to realize that the 20-year frenzy of not-especially-thought-through haphazard friend-making you just did was the critical process of you making most of your lifelong friends.

And since you matched up with most of them A) by circumstance, and B) before you really knew yourself yet, the result is that your Tier 1 and Tier 2 friends — those closest to you — fall in a very scattered way on what I'll call the Does This Friendship Make Sense graph:

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

So, who are all those close friends in the three non-ideal quadrants?

As time goes on, most of us tend to have fewer friends in Quadrants 2 through 4 because A) people mature, and B) people have more self-respect and higher standards for what they'll deal with as they get older. But the fact is, friendships made in the formative years often stick, whether they're ideal or not, leaving most of us with a portion of our Tier 1 and Tier 2 friendships that just don't make that much sense. We'll get to the great, Quadrant 1 friendships later in the post, but in order to treat those relationships properly, we need to take a thorough look at the odd ones first.

Here are 10 common ones:

1. The non-question-asking friend

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

You'll be having a good day. You'll be having a bad day. You'll be happy at work. You'll quit your job. You'll fall in love. You'll catch your new love cheating on you and murder them both in an act of incredible passion. And it doesn't matter, because none of it will be discussed with The Non-Question-Asking Friend, who never, ever, ever asks you anything about your life. This friend can be explained in one of three ways:

  1. He's extremely self-absorbed and only wants to talk about himself.
  2. He avoids getting close to people and doesn't want to talk about either you or himself or anything personal, just third-party topics.
  3. He thinks you're insufferably self-absorbed and knows if he asks you about your life, you'll talk his ear off about it.

Giving you the benefit of the doubt here, we're left with two possibilities. Possibility #1 isn't fun at all and this person should not be allowed space on Tier 1. The green part of the mountain is sacred territory, and super self-absorbed people shouldn't be permitted to set foot up there. Put him on Tier 2 and just be happy you're not dating him.

Possibility #2 is a pretty dark situation for your friend, but it can actually be fun for you. I have a friend who I've hung out with one-on-one about four times in the last year, and he has no idea Wait But Why exists. I've known him for 14 years and I'm not sure he knows if I have siblings or not. But I actually enjoy the shit out of this friend — sure, there's a limit on how close we'll ever be, but without ever spending time talking about our lives, we actually end up in a lot of fun, interesting conversations.

2. The friend in the group you can't be alone with under any circumstances

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

In almost every group of friends, there's one pair who can't ever be alone together. It's not that they dislike each other — they might get along great — it's just that they have no individual friendship with each other whatsoever. This leaves both of them petrified of the lumbering elephant that appears in the room anytime they're alone together. They're way too on top of shit to ever end up in the car alone together if a group is going somewhere in multiple cars, but there are smaller dangers afoot — like being the first two to arrive at a restaurant or being in a group of three when the third member goes to the bathroom.

The thing is, sometimes it's not even that these people couldn't have an individual friendship — it's just that they don't, and neither one has the guts to try to make that leap when things have gone on for so long as is.

3. The non-character-breaking friend you have to be “on" with

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

This is a friend who's terrified of having an earnest interaction, and as such, your friendship with him is always in some kind of skit you always have to be on when you're interacting.

Sometimes the skit is that you both burst out laughing at everything constantly. He can only exist with you in “This is so fucking hilarious, it's too much!" mode, so you have to be in some kind of joke-telling or sarcastic mode yourself at all times or he'll become socially horrified.

Another version of this is the “always and only ironic" friend, who you really bum out if you ever break that social shell and say something earnest. This type of person hates earnest people because someone being earnest dares him to come out from under his ironic safety blanket and let the sun touch his face, and no fucking thanks.

A third example is the “You're great, I'm great, ugh why is everyone else so terrible and not great like us" friend. Of course, she doesn't really think you're perfectly great at all — if she were with someone else, you'd be one of the voodoo dolls on the table to be dissected and scoffed at. The key here is that the two of you must be on a team at all times while interacting. The only comfortable mode for this person is bonding with you by building a little pedestal for you both to stand on while you criticize everyone else. You can either play along and everything will go smoothly, even though you'll both despise yourselves and each other the whole time, or you can commit the ultimate sin and have the integrity to disagree with the friend or defend a non-present party the friend criticizes. Doing this will shatter the fragile team vibe and make the friend recoil and say something quietly like, “Hm ... yeah ... I guess." The friend now respects you for the first time and will also criticize you extra hard next time she's playing her pedestal game with a different friend.

What these all have in common is the friend has tall walls up, at least toward you, and so she builds a little skit for you two to hang out in to make sure any authentic connection can be avoided. Sometimes that person only does this out of her own social anxiety and can become a great, authentic friend if you can just stomp through the ice. Other times, the person is just hopelessly scared and closed off and there's no hope and you have to get out.

In any case, I can't stand these interactions and am in a full panic the entire time they're happening.

4. The double-obligated friendship

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Think of a friend you get together with from time to time, which usually happens after a long and lackluster email or text exchange during which you just can't find a time that works for both of you — and you're never really happy when these plans are being made and not really psyched when you wake up and it's finally on your schedule for that day.

Maybe you're aware that you don't want to be friends with that person, or maybe you're delusional about it — but what you're most likely not aware of is that they probably don't want to see you either.

There are lopsided situations where one person is far more interested in hanging out than the other (we'll get to those later), but in the case we're talking about here, both parties often think it's a lopsided situation without realizing that the other person actually feels the same way — that's why it takes so long to schedule a time. When someone's excited about something, they figure out how to get it into their schedule; when they're not, they figure out ways to push it farther into the future.

Sometimes you don't think hard enough about it to even realize you don't like being friends with the person, and other times you really like the idea or the aesthetic of being friends with that particular person — being friends with them is part of your Story. But even in cases where you're perfectly lucid about your feelings, since neither of you knows the other feels the same way and neither has the guts to just cut things off or move it down a tier, this friendship usually just continues along for eternity.

5. The half-marriage

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Somewhere in your life, you're probably part of a friendship that would be a marriage if only the other person weren't very, very, extremely not interested in that happening. 1 for 2 on yes votes — just one vote away — so close.

You might be on either side of this — and either way, it's one of the least healthy parts of your life. Fun!

If you're on the if only side of things, probably the right move is to get your fucking shit together? Ya know? This friendship is one long, continuous rejection of you as a human being, and you're just wallowing there in your yearning like a sobbing little seal. Plus, duh, if you gather your self-respect and move on with your life, it'll raise their perception of your value and they might actually become interested in you.

If you're on the Oh yeah, definitely not side of the situation, here's what's happening: There's this suffering human in the world, and you know they're suffering, and you fucking love it, because it gives your little ego a succulent sponge bath every time you hang out with them. You enjoy it so much you probably even lead them on intentionally, don't you — you make sure to keep just enough ambiguity in the situation that their bleeding heart continues to lather your ego from head to toe at your whim.

Both of you — go do something else.

6. The historical friend

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

A Historical Friend is someone you became friends with in the first place because you met when you were little and stayed friends through the years, even though you're a very weird match. Most old friends fall somewhat into this category, but a true Historical Friend is someone you absolutely would not be friends with if you met them today.

You're not especially pleased with who they are, and they feel the same way about you. You're not each other's type one bit. Unfortunately, you're also extremely close friends from when you were four, and you're both just a part of each other's situation forever, sorry.

7. The non-parallel life paths friendship

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

Throughout childhood and much of young adulthood, most people your age are in the same life stage as you are. But when it comes to advancing into full adulthood, people do so at widely varying paces, which leads to certain friends suddenly having totally different existences from one another.

Anyone within three years of 30 has a bunch of these going on. It's just a weird time for everyone. Some people have become Future 52-year-olds, while others are super into being Previous 21-year-olds. At some point, things will start to meld together again, but being 30-ish is the friendship equivalent of a kid going through an awkward pubescent stage.

There are darker, more permanent Non-Parallel Life Path situations. Like when Person A starts to become a person who rejects material wealth, partially because she genuinely feels that pursuing an artistic path matters more and partially because she needs a defense mechanism against feeling envious of richer people, and Person B's path makes her scoff at people who pursue creative paths, partially because she genuinely thinks expressing yourself is an inherently narcissistic venture and partially because she needs a defense mechanism against feeling regretful that she never pursued her creative dreams — these two will have problems.

They may still like each other, but they can't be as close as they used to be — each of their lives is a bit of a middle finger at the other's choices, and that's jst awkward for everyone. It's not always that bad — but to survive an Off-Line Life Situation, friends need to be really different people who don't at all want the same things out of life.

8. The frenemy

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

The Frenemy roots very hard against you. And I'm not talking about the friends that will feel a little twinge of pleasure when they hear your big break didn't pan out after all or that your relationship is in bad shape. I'm not even talking about someone who secretly roots against you when they're not doing so well at some area of life and it hurts them to see you do better. Those are bad emotions, but they can exist in people who are still good friends.

I'm talking about a real Frenemy — someone who really wants bad things for you. Because you're you.

You and the Frenemy usually go way back, have a very deep friendship, and the trouble probably started a long time ago. There's a lot of complex psychology going on in these situations that I don't fully understand, but my hunch is that a Frenemy's resentment is rooted in his own pain, or his own shortcomings, or his own regret — and for some reason, your existence stings them in these places hard.

A little less dark but no less harmful is a bully situation where a friend sees some weakness or vulnerability in you and she enjoys prodding you there either for sadistic reasons or to prop herself up.

A Frenemy knows how to hurt you better than anyone because you're deeply similar in some way and she knows how you're wired. She'll do whatever she can to bring you down any chance she gets, often in such a subtle way it's hard to see that it's happening.

Whatever the reason, if you have a Frenemy in your life, kick her toxic ass off your mountain, or at least kick her down the mountain — just get her off of Tier 1. A Frenemy has about a 10th of the power to hurt you from Tier 2 as she does from Tier 1.

9. The Facebook celebrity friend

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

This person isn't a celebrity to anyone other than you, you creep. You know exactly who I'm talking about — there are a small handful of people whose Facebook page you're uncomfortably well-acquainted with, and those people have no idea that this is happening. On the plus side, there are people out there you haven't spoken to in seven years who know all about the new thing you're trying with your hair, since it goes both ways.

This is a rare Tier 3 friend, or even an acquaintance, who qualifies as an odd friendship because you found a way to make it unhealthy even though you're not actually friends. Well done.

10. The lopsided friendship

via Wait But Why post and used with permission.

There are a lot of ways a friendship can be lopsided: Someone can be higher on their friend's mountain than vice versa. Someone can want to spend more time with a friend than vice versa. One member can consistently do 90% of the listening and only 10% of the talking, and in situations where most of the talking is about life problems, what's happening is a one-sided therapy situation, with a badly off-balance give-and-take ratio, and that's not much of a friendship — it's someone using someone else.

And then there's the lopsided power friendship. Of course, this is a hideous quality in many not-great couples, but it's also a prominent feature of plenty of friendships.

A near 50/50 friendship is ideal, but anything out to 65/35 is fine and can often be attributed to two different styles of personality. It's when the number gap gets even wider that something less healthy is going on — something that doesn't reflect very well on either party.

There are some obvious ways to assess the nature of a friendship's power dynamic: Does one person cut in and interrupt the other person while they're talking far more than the other way around? Is one person's opinion or preference just kind of understood to carry more weight than the other's? Is one person allowed to be more of a dick to the other than vice versa?

Another interesting litmus test is what I call the “mood determiner test." This comes into play when two friends get together but they're in very different moods — the idea is, whose mood “wins" and determines the mood of the hangout. If Person A is in a bad mood, Person B is in a good mood, and Person B reacts by being timid and respectful of Person A's mood, leaving the vibe down there until Person A snaps out of it on her own — but when the moods are reversed, Person B quickly disregards her own bad mood and acts more cheerful to match Person A's happy mood — and this is how it always goes — then Person A is in a serious power position.

But hey, not all friendships are grim.

In the Does This Friendship Make Sense graph above, the friendships we just discussed are all in Quandrants 2, 3, or 4 — i.e., they're all a bit unenjoyable, unhealthy, or both. That's why this has been depressing. On the bright side, there's also Quadrant 1 — all the friendships that do make sense.

No friendship is perfect, but those in Quadrant 1 are doing what friendships are supposed to do: They're making the lives of both parties better. And when a friendship is both in Quadrant 1 of the graph and on Tier 1 of your mountain, that friendship is a rock in your life.

Rock friendships don't just make us happy — they're the thing (along with rock family and romantic relationships) that makes us happy.

Investing serious time and energy into those is a no-brainer long-term life strategy. But in the case of most people over 25 — at least in New York — I think A) not enough time is carved out as dedicated friend time, and B) the time that is carved out is spread too thin, and too evenly, among the Tier 1 and Tier 2 friendships in all four quadrants. I'm definitely guilty of this myself.

There's something I call the Perpetual Catch-Up Trap. When you haven't seen a good friend in a long time, the first order of business is a big catch-up — you want to know what's going on in their career, with their girlfriend, with their family, etc., and they want to catch up on your life. In theory, once this happens, you can go back to just hanging out, shooting the shit, and actually being in the friendship. The problem is, when you don't make enough time for good friends, seeing them only for a meal and not that often — you end up spending each get-together catching up, and you never actually get to just enjoy the friendship or get far past the surface. That's the Perpetual Catch-Up Trap, and I find myself falling into it with way too many of the rocks in my life.

There are two orders of business right now:

First, think about your friendships, figure out which ones aren't in Quadrant 1, and demote them down the mountain. I'm not suggesting you stop being friends with those people — you still love them and feel loyal to them, and old friends are critical to hold onto — but if the friendships aren't that healthy or enjoyable, they don't really deserve to be in your Tier 1, and you probably shouldn't be in theirs. Most importantly, doing this clears up time to...

Second, dedicate even more time to the Quadrant 1, Tier 1 rocks in your life. If you're in your mid-20s or older, your current rocks are probably the only ones you'll ever have. Your rock friendships don't warrant two times the time you give to your other friends — they warrant five or 10 times!

Your rocks deserve serious, dedicated time so you can stay close. So go make plans with them.

















There are a lot of ways a friendship can be lopsided: Someone can be higher on their friend's mountain than vice versa. Someone can want to spend more time with a friend than vice versa. One member can consistently do 90% of the listening and only 10% of the talking, and in situations where most of the talking is about life problems, what's happening is a one-sided therapy situation, with a badly off-balance give-and-take ratio, and that's not much of a friendship — it's someone using someone else.

And then there's the lopsided power friendship. Of course, this is a hideous quality in many not-great couples, but it's also a prominent feature of plenty of friendships.

A near 50/50 friendship is ideal, but anything out to 65/35 is fine and can often be attributed to two different styles of personality. It's when the number gap gets even wider that something less healthy is going on — something that doesn't reflect very well on either party.

There are some obvious ways to assess the nature of a friendship's power dynamic: Does one person cut in and interrupt the other person while they're talking far more than the other way around? Is one person's opinion or preference just kind of understood to carry more weight than the other's? Is one person allowed to be more of a dick to the other than vice versa?

Another interesting litmus test is what I call the “mood determiner test." This comes into play when two friends get together but they're in very different moods — the idea is, whose mood “wins" and determines the mood of the hangout. If Person A is in a bad mood, Person B is in a good mood, and Person B reacts by being timid and respectful of Person A's mood, leaving the vibe down there until Person A snaps out of it on her own — but when the moods are reversed, Person B quickly disregards her own bad mood and acts more cheerful to match Person A's happy mood — and this is how it always goes — then Person A is in a serious power position.

But hey, not all friendships are grim.

In the Does This Friendship Make Sense graph above, the friendships we just discussed are all in Quandrants 2, 3, or 4 — i.e., they're all a bit unenjoyable, unhealthy, or both. That's why this has been depressing. On the bright side, there's also Quadrant 1 — all the friendships that do make sense.

No friendship is perfect, but those in Quadrant 1 are doing what friendships are supposed to do: They're making the lives of both parties better. And when a friendship is both in Quadrant 1 of the graph and on Tier 1 of your mountain, that friendship is a rock in your life.

Rock friendships don't just make us happy — they're the thing (along with rock family and romantic relationships) that makes us happy.

Investing serious time and energy into those is a no-brainer long-term life strategy. But in the case of most people over 25 — at least in New York — I think A) not enough time is carved out as dedicated friend time, and B) the time that is carved out is spread too thin, and too evenly, among the Tier 1 and Tier 2 friendships in all four quadrants. I'm definitely guilty of this myself.

There's something I call the Perpetual Catch-Up Trap. When you haven't seen a good friend in a long time, the first order of business is a big catch-up — you want to know what's going on in their career, with their girlfriend, with their family, etc., and they want to catch up on your life. In theory, once this happens, you can go back to just hanging out, shooting the shit, and actually being in the friendship. The problem is, when you don't make enough time for good friends, seeing them only for a meal and not that often — you end up spending each get-together catching up, and you never actually get to just enjoy the friendship or get far past the surface. That's the Perpetual Catch-Up Trap, and I find myself falling into it with way too many of the rocks in my life.

There are two orders of business right now:

First, think about your friendships, figure out which ones aren't in Quadrant 1, and demote them down the mountain. I'm not suggesting you stop being friends with those people — you still love them and feel loyal to them, and old friends are critical to hold onto — but if the friendships aren't that healthy or enjoyable, they don't really deserve to be in your Tier 1, and you probably shouldn't be in theirs. Most importantly, doing this clears up time to...

Second, dedicate even more time to the Quadrant 1, Tier 1 rocks in your life. If you're in your mid-20s or older, your current rocks are probably the only ones you'll ever have. Your rock friendships don't warrant two times the time you give to your other friends — they warrant five or 10 times!

Your rocks deserve serious, dedicated time so you can stay close. So go make plans with them.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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