Peer Pressure for Parents
All the other moms are letting their kid go.
You’re the only mom who says no.
You don’t trust me!
People think you are so strict.
Honestly, when my teenage son makes comments like those, I can turn into a junior high girl on the inside — heart-deep in a battle of insecurity. I want my kids to like and accept me, and knowing how different I can be from some parents can be a bit paralyzing. I’m embarrassed to admit how often I’ve altered my position and conformed to the permissive nature of our culture simply to avoid being labeled “different.” Isn’t peer pressure reserved for kids and their friends? Sadly, it isn’t. Of course, we don’t call it peer pressure among parents. We give it another name so we don’t have to admit we’re as prone to weakness as our children.
Are you like me and find yourself struggling with tension to conform to cultural norms? Let’s take the advice we’d give our kids and adopt these four habits to succeed against the squeeze of peer pressure in our parenting.
Know where you stand.
We are bombarded with issues about which we must make a decision: underage drinking, dating, hanging out with kids you don’t know, seeing movies with a questionable message, and more. Be prepared in advance to set boundaries. Consider how you will respond when faced with these situations. If you know what you believe, it’s not a matter of making a quick decision on the spot when you’re feeling the strain of pleasing people. It’s a matter of having the discipline to carry out a wise decision you’ve already made. Peer pressure happens when you don’t have a clear sense of where you stand.
Separate fact from emotion.
When your darling kid looks at you with those sad eyes because everyone else gets to (fill in the blank), and the emotional strings of your heart are pulling toward giving him what he wants, be aware that what he wants may not be what is best. Examine the facts and make a wise decision, even if it isn’t the popular one. Don’t get caught up in the feelings of the moment. Take emotion out of the picture and decide what is God’s best for your kid. That’s the only reasonable answer to a tough question. Peer pressure happens when you give your emotions too much voice.
Be slow to give an answer.
Giving a quick answer has tripped me up many times. I feel pushed into a corner when I’m expected to answer quickly. I’ve learned to take few minute to think logically through the options before giving a response, and it’s not always as fast as my kid would prefer. This practice models wisdom and teaches them to consider the consequences of a decision. I always feel more settled in my response when I know I’ve carefully weighed the options before deciding on a matter. Peer pressure happens when we don’t stop to think about the consequences of our choices.
Sometimes, we engage in a struggle over a decision that’s already been made for us, whether it’s God’s instruction or government laws. For example, since underage drinking is against the law, I don’t have to wrestle with the decision to allow my 14-year-old son permission to consume alcohol. We don’t have to debate issues in which the standard is already clear. How can we expect our children to respect our authority if we don’t model the same honor for those in authority over us? Our personal adherence to boundaries reveals the blessing of obedience over time. Peer pressure happens when we ignore authority.
If we are following God’s lead, we don’t need to cower or apologize for making decisions we believe are God’s best for our children. The power of peer pressure is diminished when we parent with the end goal in mind.