Friends and family are important and have a big role to play in how we feel. Have you ever noticed how things are less scary when you are with a friend? Imagine walking up to a spooky old house on Halloween on your own. It’s dark and creepy. Now imagine the same scene but this time you are there with two of your best mates. Suddenly it is not as scary, as your friends are there to help you get out of any tricky situations. Scientists know that having supportive friends and family around you can help us deal with stressful events. Superhero teams like the Avengers, the Justice League or the Guardians of the Galaxy all work together to support each other. Being in a friendship group can act as a buffer which protects you from the impact of negative events. Having someone to talk to or someone to give you a hug when you are feeling down is important. When Thor is feeling sad and depressed after the destruction of Asgard, he withdraws and starts to not look after himself properly. It is down to his friends, Hulk and Rocket, to go to New Asgard to help Thor find a new purpose in life. Lots of other superheroes benefit from having good friends, including Hawkeye and Kate Bishop, Rocket and Groot, and Peter Parker and Ned Leeds.
Sometimes we can fall out with our friends and family and we can feel upset, sad and lonely. Even superhero teams like The Avengers can have disagreements. For example, Iron Man and Captain America had a major disagreement over the signing of the Sokovia Accords which fractured the whole superhero team. Other superhero teams, such as the Umbrella Academy, show friends and family can be both supportive and annoying. It is important to remember that you need to work at making friendships and family relationships work. Take the time to talk to others about your feelings and listen to how others are feeling too. It is also important to remember that you do not have to be friends with everyone. If someone is not a good friend, it is OK to move on and make new friends. So, although Thor and Loki annoy each other, they still share a special family bond. They also set clear boundaries regarding what is acceptable behaviour. The Hulk and Dr Strange, on the other hand, have certainly cut Loki out of their friendship group.
Having a good relationship with our friends and family is important to our wellbeing. Scientists have found that if you have people around who can give you help and support, you are likely to have better physical and mental health. However, not everyone can count on family in times of need and this can make people feel lonely. Some superheroes feel lonely because their superpower can make them different. For example, growing up Rachel Roth (Raven) from Titans did not know anyone who had superpowers. It was not until Detective Dick Grayson and Kory Anders (a warrior from the planet Tamaran) came into her life that she felt part of a “family” who understand her. So, if you are feeling lonely it can be a good idea to join a local youth group or take up a new hobby like football or chess. Going out and meeting people makes it more likely that you will meet people who are on the same wavelength as you.
Pets are also a great source of comfort if your friends or family are being annoying or if you are feeling anxious or down. If you are lucky enough to have a pet, you will know how good they are at listening to you when you are feeling down or snuggling up close. Scientists have found that people who have pets, especially cats and dogs, can feel happier. However, only a few pets will have superpowers. The average K9 companion will not be able to teleport you around like Lockjaw, the Inhuman Royal Family’s guard dog. If you don’t have a pet, then you can always enjoy watching wildlife. Putting up a bird feeder and watching the birds (and maybe the occasional squirrel) visit can be very relaxing.
If you want to learn more about friendships then check out this resource from the Children’s Society: