Peer Pressure 101:
We hear a lot about children and peer pressure.
An awful lot.
But -- if we listen to ourselves as we speak to our children on resisting the urge to give in to what their friends are doing and what their friends have -- what we'll hear is that resisting peer pressure applies to us, as parents, as well. Just listen.
Resisting Peer Pressure 101
1. "But all the other kids are wearing this!"
Do you, as a parent, fall into this category? Really think about that before you answer. Do you spend money your family can't afford, to have the current hot mama status symbol uniform? Trends pass...do we have to buy what the mom down the street is wearing? Either to belong, or to impress? Why not save our money, instead: spend the dimes and pennies that add up with wise accumulation on something for our family, right?
2. "But if you let me do this, then all the kids will like me!"
Really? Everyone will like you? As in, if you sign up for every single expensive baby and you class out there because all the other mommies go, will you have any more friends than you do now? I made this mistake, with my first: instead of staying home? I had us billed with frantic activity. Now, I wish I would've taken a sweet walk to the park, chatting all the way with my baby. But what did I do? I threw him in the car seat every day of the week, thinking I had to...because all the moms I knew were in every class there was. Had to be the right thing to do, right? I wish I knew then, that I didn't have to do all the mommy and me classes just because all the other moms were going.
3. "If you let me get this new haircut, then I'll fit in with the other kids."
Fitting in. What is wrong with being different? Unique? Special? Variety is what makes the world so beautiful. Be who you are. If you like your hair long, and others say you need to cut it short because no one wears their hair long past a certain age-- then keep it long. You are who you beautifully were made to be, mom in her 40's with long hair, or not. I actually tried to do the haircut thing...even though I didn't want to. I know now, I can have long hair at my age, if I want to. I so can.
4. "I wish I had a nicer car, like the other kids."
A nicer car, a nicer house, a nicer vacation, it never will stop. Never. We need to want what we have, not have what we want. Do you envy the beautiful car parked in the driveway across the street from your house? Do you say this out loud to your children? Do you let them hear you mention how nice it would be to live in the Jones' house-- with the All-Season porch, instead of your porchless house? They hear you.
5. "If I can just get into the A group at school, then I'll be happy."
The Queen Bees, wanting them to like you, trying so hard to become like what you think they would want you to be. It's friendship built on the sand of a false you. If someone is going to like you, they will. If they're not going to, you have to make yourself accept that. Begin with rock, the foundation of who you really are. Those who want to be with you, will be with you. In the meantime, you don't have to pretend to be someone else and live an untrue version of yourself, just to fit into a prized group. Be patient, you'll find your own people, ones that know you and LIKE you, from the beginning.
6. "I wish I weren't so fat/flat/disgusting."
Sigh. Women and body image, women and esteem tied to body image. If only I were skinny, all my problems would disappear. If only I had great legs then I could wear shorts, and I'd have a more fun summer. If only, if only...meantime, life is passing by. Live your life, the way you are. Be healthy, get exercise, eat the right things, and feel free to enjoy everything that the day has for you. You have a fine, capable body that works and is able, feel grateful for the blessing of movement. Think about this one.
Your children are watching you, and listening to you. They will see you model acceptance and approval for yourself, and if we're lucky --- they'll form this trait into a value of their own.
They see how you compare, or don't compare yourself to others
They listen if you express disappointment in who you are, what you look like, your home, the state of your old car.
They see if you enviously eye someone and what they have.
They take their cues from you. They hear you say, "I wish we could take nice vacations, like the Smith's do."
Teach your children to withstand peer pressure now, teach them the lesson to not look to others for acceptance. They don't have to be part of the popular group, or look perfect, or have what others have. They just need to like themselves, and be true to who they are. Hear what you're saying with your actions, are you trying to impress? Do they see you dissatisfied and envious?
The next time the opportunity to talk to your children about peer pressure arrives, think about living the message that you are delivering out loud. We all know what they say about actions: they speak louder than words.
How can we ask our children to resist peer pressure -- how can we say to them, "be happy with who you are" -- how can we ask them to do something, that we ourselves can't do?