Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Peer Pressure

Been wanting to talk about this for several days and just haven't taken the time.  

When you were a kid, were you susceptible to peer pressure?  Or did you stand up to it, with or without the help of your parents?

Now that Andrew is older, what his friends are doing is more of a topic than it had been in the past.  I also notice that this is true of other parent friends of kids of a certain age.  

Telling Andrew that he can't do something that his peers can do has never been a problem for us.  We've been doing it on a routine basis since he was about 4, and although as he ages he occasionally dislikes our decision, he gets over it rapidly.  His most constant friend right now, Konner, is allowed a handheld video device and takes it everywhere...Andrew can't have one and Konner can't bring his to our house anymore.  Both boys just said, "Okay" and I've never had to repeat the rule.  Some of his homeschool friends can attend every activity available, while we choose one or two a week.  Again, he just sort of shrugs and moves on.  His cousins have video game machines in triplicate at their homes and are allowed to play any game regardless of its rating.  We explained that we feel waiting until he is 16 to have a video game console in the house is a better idea, but if he would like to save up for one before that, we will dictate the games that are allowed (and the rating system in this house is way tougher than in the gaming industry!) and a time limit each day.  

Furthermore, we try to help him not contribute to the peer pressure his friends encounter.  We talk about not bragging about privileges he has that other friends do not, we walk him through scenarios where pushing his rules on another kid could cause them trouble and try to help him see it through their eyes.  

When you choose to run your household, and raise your children, not by society majority rules, but by what you believe is best, you MUST stand up to peer pressure and teach your children to do likewise.  This seems just standard procedure to us by now, but I know some younger parents might be struggling with it.  If you believe what you are doing is the right approach, take that confidence and communicate it to your children.  Setting limits, having rules, denying some types of activities, if you do all of this with calm assurance, you are not only raising your kids your way, you are teaching them to think for themselves and to not give in to peer pressure.  This is a valuable life skill for anyone to have.

So who were you growing up?  Scott had trouble with peer pressure, BIG trouble.  He gave in to it over and over and it is a miracle indeed that he made it out of his late teen years.  I didn't give in to it at all.  I don't really feel like I stood firm, as much as just felt like I wanted to make my own choices and my friend's opinions weren't that important to me.  I didn't like not fitting in, I cried many a night over it, but at the same time, when push came to shove, I just took my own path.  Dressed how I chose, avoided drugs and alcohol, did the activities that interested me.  Obviously Scott has grown out of his peer pressure ways, and sometimes I get pushed around a bit, but for the most part, this homeschooling, homechurching family is finding their own path.

Recently, Andrew was out playing with his friends when some other kids from our building came out to join them.  After a short time Andrew called us on the walkie talkie and wanted to come in.  Turns out the new kids were throwing rocks and sticks at windows and using every foul word they knew (they knew more than I do!)  Andrew decided he didn't want to play with them and thereafter, we set up a code system for the walkie talkie so that he could let me know that those kids were out there again.  I feel like maybe he is starting to take a stand against peer pressure.  Both of us are happy to see this forming in him.

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