Part of growing up involves learning to make one's own decisions. This isn't easy for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for teens, who are caught somewhere between the freedoms of adolescence and the responsibilities of adulthood. Often, one of the most powerful factors in the teenage decision-making process is pressure from friends. Teens may look to their friends for companionship, approval, advice, recognition, and behavioral guidance. Teens are confronted with a variety of decisions, and sometimes it can be difficult to separate the minor ones from the major ones. At the same time teens are considering who to date, what to wear to school, and what music to listen to, they may also be puzzling over whether or not to drink alcohol, use drugs, or have sex. In many cases, teens rely on their friends to help them make these decisions. Although it's sometimes difficult for parents to allow their children to make their own choices, a time comes when it's impractical to do otherwise. When this happens, teens should be encouraged to trust their own judgment, even if it means going against the crowd. Teenagers should also be reminded that some of their decisions could have serious consequences. But, most of all, parents should be understanding and patient. Teens will make mistakes, but they'll also learn from these mistakes. For more information, consult a health care professional.