Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Best - Peer Pressure 101

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 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?    
I love running these old posts. This post was originally prepared for the amazing Naomi of Organic Motherhood With CoolWhip. I was crowned a "Cool Whip Queen," with this post. Thank you, Naomi.


  1. Excellent advice. I should send this to a few people I know.

  2. LOVE this post Alexandra. It has so much of the things I wish someone had told me before... I read a quote somewhere... while growing up we all want to be like everyone else and when we have grown up, we don't want to be like everyone else.

    Great advice. Children these days, they learn so much with or without us knowing it.

  3. Great post! Very well written and you covered a wide range of what I believe is a big problem in today's society.

  4. great the root of this there is a motivation...perhaps to be liked...and what we teach our kids (as a culture) on what it takes to be liked is pretty sad...of course then they grow up to be plastic adults who sit their own dreams/personality aside to kiss up to a boss to make more money and afford all the nice things that help us beat the pressure of keeping up with our neighbors...dang i need more coffee...smiles.

  5. Please help support the UK's breastfeeding and natural birth campaign.

    Natural Allience Group UK

  6. Truth! There is so much joy in being an individual.

  7. Absolutely beautifully put and so true. Even now I catch myself wishing I was skinnier, had straight hair instead of this wavy curly hair. It is a hard lesson to learn but one we must teach ourselves before we can ever hope to enlighten our children

  8. all of these are such a struggle for me. I've always been someone who spends too much time comparing myself with everybody else. Thanks as always for the great reminder! :)


  9. All very good points and a great reminder. So far, with my kids at age 4 and 6, I haven't had to deal with too much of this...but I'm sure it's coming.

  10. Love this

    With ages 3 to 13 in our home, it seems the opportunities to live the message are everywhere.

    I firmly believe imparting a sense of self is one of the must important jobs we parents have.

  11. Perfect! I feel like now, finally at age 38, I am able to follow through on some of those things I preach to my children. I just hope that they don't have to wait until they are 38 to feel that way.

  12. Great points there!

    Here's my famous mother line to "Well everyone else is doing it."

    Response: "If everyone else was eating battery acid, would you do it too? "

    Very helpful....

  13. We used to live in the land of the Queen Bees. My daughter wasn't going to survive through middle school and I had nothing but disdain for their mothers. We didn't want our daughters to grow up like this. So we moved. To the country, in a small town school district where not everyone has the latest fashions or drives the latest BMW. If they are lucky enough to have a car, it's probably an old beat up pickup truck. And we love it. My daughters seem to be more grounded now.

  14. This is so true. They only learn from our example. And most of us give in to peer pressure in some way, shape, or form.

  15. This was FANTASTIC and really hit home - I tend to think everything will be perfect if only [mostly, it's I would be super-organized IF ONLY I had the right office supplies!]. That eats up so much of your life, that yearning.

    Brilliant, as usual.

  16. Another fantastic post and I can see why Naomi crowned you! Wonderful insights and reminders.

  17. I love this post. It so clearly spells out why "Do as I say, not as I do" doesn't fly.

  18. Hello sweet lady, err- Cool Whip Queen, I mean!

    I loved this post for three reasons.

    1. You remind so gently what our kids might be thinking/ fearing/ hoping for. We have to be in tune to these things.

    2. You give a perfect kick in the ass reminder that our own words, thoughts, hopes and fears have to be addressed and faced.

    And 3. It was written by you, and I adore you.

    Well done CWQ (I adore that, too!)

  19. Well you are a cool whip queen indeed! The only thing is I would totally pay money to spend time with other grown ups, that's my only vice! So yeah mommy and me classes all the way.

  20. in my 1st year of motherhood i found a quote that stayed with me: what you want your children to be, YOU have to be. so true. thanks for posting!

  21. I love this.


  22. Excellent advice Cool Whip Queen. My daughter is only 7 and she is already saying "I wish I had curly hair." I'm trying to teach her to be happy with the way she is and in doing that I have realized that I need to be happy with how I am also.

  23. I think the same can be said when you think about when you are trying to get your kid to do something that YOU want him or her to do. 'but so in so is potty trained, do you want to be a big kid like so in so'. It starts off innocently enough....

  24. very wise indeed.

    i'm always telling my kids to be different, sometimes it hard.

  25. Great post, so true. Sometimes, oftentimes, we forget how we have expectations for kids that we don't even have for ourselves!

  26. Isn't wild that our kids hear everything that we say and internalize it - including the "insecure" stuff? I sometimes don't realize what comes out of my mouth until I hear one of my boys say those same words. How many times have I said "I wish we could go to Maui like the Andersons do?" just substitute Maui with Spain or Portland, OR, etc..... all the while trying to convince my oldest that it's okay if he's not doing/following/liking what the other boys in his class are into.

    What a great reminder! You rock!

  27. My family spent every summer in France. One of the neighbors said to my mother: "Well SOME of us don't go to Europe every year."

    And my mom replied, "And SOME of us don't buy a new car every year."

    We drove an old Ford. That neighbor bought a new Cadillac every year.

    That was the first year I learned that we've all got something that someone else wants.

  28. I'm guilty of the Body image peer pressure much more than I'm comfortable with

  29. When I was a kid and I tried to pull these same thing on them I always got the same three word answer, "Tough Shit! NO!"

  30. The Empress knows of what she speaks.

  31. Wonderful reminders. Thank you for (re)sharing.

  32. I love this post! What a wonderful reminder with spring break coming up and "everybody leaving the country"....we're not and that's ok.

  33. Love this post. All so true. I repeatedly tell my kids these things and constantly remind myself that I am the role model. So many people out there need to remember to practice what they preach!

  34. Very good post! I don't think I'm setting a bad example in anything else but body image. But that's a big one and I have a daughter.

  35. Brilliant.

    I was obsessed with these issues when I was my kids' age. Sad to admit, but true.

    Somehow, I stopped worrying. I get my hair cut twice a year, wear the same clothes all.the.time. My living room is empty because we can't afford a media extravaganza equivalent to some of our friends.

    But that's okay. We are happy. And I hope hope hope my kids will feel this way when they grow up.

    Love this post.

  36. So true. I am not immune to peer pressure, I won't lie. But we need to make an effort - an honest effort - to resist it. As for the Queen Bees, that is one group that I actively avoid.

    Love the old posts too, Empress!

  37. I don't compare myself to others but I do put myself down from time to time, without realizing it at all. I only noticed this when my son one day started saying, "I am so bad at this! I cannot draw! I am so bad!" I was shocked at how hard he was on himself until I realized, wait, he learned that from me. I'm trying very hard to catch myself doing this, but the sad truth is that it's become such a normal part of my regular speech that I don't even notice when I'm putting myself down!

  38. Alexandra, Just tried twice to submit a comment on your orange bandanna post, but kept getting an error message. Other readers might be experiencing the same thing..? Anyway, I loved your post - as a fellow 1st generation American I totally know what you mean about looking at our past mishaps and other experiences through a lens of humor. I hope this is the collection of stories you are working on!

  39. This is spot on...when you wonder why your kid are wanting this and that, sometimes the answer is in the mirror.

    I like that you're running these, since many of them I never saw the first time!

  40. You're a wise, wise woman.

    Many grown ups; men and women alike should read this post! It's not about what you have; but who you are. On the inside. And Lady? You are beautiful inside as well as outside!



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