Peer pressure is most often known to be a challenge that many children and teens face. But as parents, we are facing the same challenges on an adult level. I’m pretty sure most of us can replay parenting moments when we have fallen into the parenting peer pressure trap. In small ways or big, the pressure to go against what you believe or promote within your parenting sphere is being challenged like never before. How do you convey a message to your child that something is wrong our bad for you when it seems that everyone else around them is doing it? How do you announce to your family and friends that your family has decided to _______________________, which you know will cause comments to come flying you way? Or sometimes just simply telling your child that this year you all will not be able to _______________________, because you know that is the best decision for your family.
From the kids, social media, friends or family members, the pressure is on to sway you into which parenting route you should take. Let me be the first to tell you, I know exactly how that feels. It’s never a good feeling when you are navigating the waters of parenthood, praying and hoping that you are making the right choices and pile on an extra serving of pressure from those around you, and you will surely be left feeling frustrated and or discouraged. And of course, frustration nor discouragement makes a great recipe for a healthy mom. So, here are 5 tips to help you overcome and push through parenting peer pressure when it comes knocking at your door.
1. Stick to your family’s values
At the core of your decisions, it’s important to remember what your family’s values are. And more importantly, your values as a parent. It’s important to routinely communicate those values to your children. As children are faced with more outside influences, without realizing it they may pressure you into allowing them to have the same experiences that many of their peers have. Children tend to think that if their friends are able to do it while still being cool, smart and funny that they should be allowed the same opportunities. But, family values far outweigh keeping up with friends. In the moment, it’s not fun feeling like the “bad parent” or the “only parent” not allowing your child to do something. But allow your family’s values to win every time. Currently, at the time of this post my oldest children are 14 and 13 and they feel like they are the only children in the entire universe without cell phones! But as a parent I value age appropriateness, and responsibility more then what’s “popular” with teens and technology today.
2. Don’t deny reality
Ignoring this big truth has pressured me into some decisions that were not the smartest choices financially or concerning time management for my family. I totally get it, wanting to buy all of our kids request or being able to attend every event that our children are interested in. But, we can not deny reality. Do we really want to be in debt over “stuff” just because we do not want to tell our children “no” or, we are not patient enough to create a strategy to save for a major expense? When it comes to finances we can not deny the reality of how much money we have to “spend” regardless of what’s being asked of us by our children.
According to Magnify Money.com 2017 Holiday Spending Survey, 64% of shoppers interviewed did not plan to go into debt, but found themselves in debt during Holiday shopping. And 24% of those shoppers admitted to needing more than 5 months to pay off their Holiday debt. Christmas and the Holidays are right around the corner now is the time to start exercising those mom muscles of financial restraint before the pressure of everyone’s list comes trying to overpower you.
Thinking about the 64% of parents facing Holiday Debt is quite disheartening. Imagine how differently things could be for them financially by not denying their current financial state and spending realistically even if it means your children are not able to get everything they want. During the times when I feel myself torn between an expense that my child wants but I know right now is not the best time I use that as a teachable moment to remind my child and myself the importance of self-control and stewardship so this little habit doesn’t spiral into a problem that is out of control. Believe me, prayer and patience has afforded our family countless experiences of provision. Of course there are the occasional splurges that every parent enjoys indulging with their children, but this should definitely not be a habit of denying and ignoring your current budget just to avoid disappointing your child.
So many of these same principles apply to not feeling pressured to run yourself ragged as a mom trying to accommodate everyone’s travel request. Even if they are “good” or “nice” activities. We have to be realistic with ourselves and our children and help them understand that regardless of how great of a mom we are, we still have limitations. If driving from one event to the next, is driving you crazy then you may really want to reconsider what’s important and prioritize accordingly. I go into much more detail about saving your sanity in a previous blog post How to Avoid Busy Burnout.
3. Stand up and speak out
Believe it or not this is probably my least favorite strategy for overcoming parenting peer pressure. I am often reserved and try to avoid conflict, but there are times when I do have to verbalize my decision and take an outward stance even in the midst of family and friends. A prime example of this is when we announced to our extended family our decision to home school. Comments came flying like verbal darts about how we were not making the best decision. After realizing how easy it was for people to voice their opinion, I had a moment when I asked myself, why do I have to make it so hard to voice my reason? So I quickly gathered the courage to confidently voice my reasons why we were home schooling and moved on. I realized that I am not responsible for making family, friends or anyone understand our decisions we make especially when their mind is pretty set on their perspective, but I do take responsibility for my our family values, while being an example of standing up for what I believe in. No one should be subject to parenting peer pressure simply because others do not agree with your decisions for your family.
Our children are watching. They are watching how we handle negative comments, rejection, or what it means to the unpopular route. By standing up and speaking out we show our children how to be strong and confident. And we show them our love and protection for them as parents.
4. Maintain and teach gratitude
Gratitude is a great antidote for any form of gloominess that tries to overshadow your day. Taking time to reflect on all the ways you consistently pour out to your children will quickly remind you that your children actually already have quite a bit to be thankful for! There are times when we have to communicate and remind our children that in most cases, we have given them so much.
Gratitude is my personal favorite way to beat the pressures of thinking I’m not doing enough as a parent. Personally, my family has so much to be thankful for that if I never brought another toy or gadget I still could bask in all the wonderful things that God has done for our family. Now, telling a kid or teenager that may or may not go over so easy but it is always worth the effort.
Sometimes it is hard to not fall under the pressure of thinking our children are not happy with their old toys or gadgets regardless how many or how often we buy them. I had to learn to reflect and ask myself am I subconsciously fueling a never ending desire to always want more, and more within my child? Or, are they understanding the more is less concept? As a parent we all have to work hard to find a good balance between the two, but I would always err on the side of less is more to teach the value of appreciating what you already have right in front of you.
Now as far as teenagers, and in my case girl teenagers I have to work extra hard to roll out the marketing strategies to inform them that marketers work really hard to influence teens that this product or gadget is a “teen must have”. Or this product will solve all of their teenage problems. I want them to learn early, that companies work really hard to influence them to want their products or services. Just because a company is under pressure to sell, sell, sell doesn’t mean as a parent we have to subject ourselves to the parenting pressure of buy, buy buy to keep our teens happy. Qualities like appreciation, hard work, and patience will take them a lot further then the latest and greatest hair product or tech gadget that will be outdated before the year is out.
5. A strong community and support system
If any parent have the opportunity to surround themselves with like minded people and similar parenting values, we would choose community every time. I urge every parent to make the necessary steps to find your tribe (no matter how big or small) that best supports and encourages your overall parenting style. A place where you feel valued and supported for the decisions you make as a mom.
Some common ideas for mom support groups could be your local MOPS Group (Mothers of Preschoolers), local story time at the library, church, exercise group, sports teams, home school co-ops, your child’s school, community center clubs, or your neighbors! Just to name a few. And yes, thanks to social media we can virtually connect with moms all over to share and encourage each other online. But, in addition to a digital community, I still believe in face to face rubbing elbows with people who truly understand.
Even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone, do it. If it means dropping something from your schedule that will allow you to intentionally build community, do it. Even if it means you being the initiator and walking up to another mom and starting the conversation, do it. Moms are hands the best at giving and sharing real life advice and ideas that leave you feeling inspired and motivated in countless ways.
Is parenting peer pressure real? Absolutely! Can we overcome it and stand for what we know is right for our family? Absolutely! Getting started with these 5 steps will help you recognize and beat the common pressures that we face all the time along our parenting journey.
Sticking to your family’s values will help you and your child stay grounded in what you know is true. Not denying the reality of your finances, time capabilities will help you to not make purchases or commitments that are not in the best interest of your family. Standing up and speaking out not only draws a clear picture of your family’s beliefs, but is a great way to show by example how to be bold and courageous in the face of adversity, despite pressure from those around us. Gratitude wins every time when kids or commercials are demanding that we do more. And planting yourself in a strong community and support system so that you can get and give encouragement to other moms is absolutely priceless.
Don’t waste another minute fighting parenting peer pressure alone. Implement these strategies and get connected because this is definitely one battle that you can conquer while teaching your child how to do the same.
Until next time.
leave a comment below sharing how you overcome parenting peer pressure. We would love to hear about it!