Your pre-teen is asked to go to the movies on a “group date” and you feel uncomfortable with it… but you know every other parent (who happen to be your friends) seem to be fine with it. What do you do?
Every year there seems to be a new strategy for overcoming peer pressure. When I grew up it was “Just say No!” Now it’s something like “Make a Difference” and “Stand Out”. Why is it that this always make sense to us when we’re talking with our kids, but when it comes to our own lives as parents we struggle.
Peer pressure is real…and it’s really tough on parents. Don’t believe me? Just take a walk through the mall and watch parents as they sheepishly following their kids from store to store shaking the heads is disapproval …and yet carrying armloads of bags filled with over-prices, under fabricated clothes that resemble something worn by Madonna. (Side note: when did parents become cool with Madonna?) Anyway, the point is simple and we all know it: we feel pressure to conform to other parents every day. So how do we handle situations where our gut is saying one thing and our mouth wants to say something else?
Here’s 5 things that should help
What’s the Purpose?
If you know me at all you know that I’m all about helping our kids have a purpose for their lives bigger than themselves. The very first line of defense in fighting parental peer pressure is to know whether or not this activity is even something you should be considering. I’ve been floored with the number of times I’ve spoken with parents about whether or not they should allow their 16 year old to drink or smoke marijuana. (You think I’m kidding, but I’m not!) Their line of reasoning? “Well they’re going to do it anyway, at least if they do it in my house I can make sure their safe and not driving or anything stupid like that.”
Ok… that’s just plain dumb. What do you know? Drugs are illegal and bad. It’s a no brainer. But what about a movie? “Whatcha going to see?” Generally, a lot of pressure can be relieved right away if you had a personal conviction on the kinds of movies you’re kids are going to watch and which ones they’e not.
How do I set these boundaries for my kids? Simple, we want our kids to be “Owned by God”. We value things like Integrity, Grace and Wise Choices (we actually have 12 core values as a family). If this movie pulls us away from our goal or values… it’s a No Go!
Identify the Red Flags
9 times out of 10 you’re gut has something to say about the situation. Remember, your gut feeling comes from a lifetime of experiences. You’ve had lots of time to make bad choices and live with the outcomes as parents. As a result, your gut is often times telling you, “Be careful, because this situation feels familiar.” So what exactly doesn’t feel right about this situation.
“I remember a group date when I was a kid that ended…”
Discern the Red Flags
Your gut will send up the Red Flags, but your head still needs to discern them. I know society is telling you to trust your heart, but your heart is often times not the best indicator for wise choices.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9
Instead, circle back to the flags and ask the question “Why?” Is it legit? Is it bad or is it just different?
Be Honest with your Child
Don’t make up some dumb excuse as to why you’re not letting them go do something. Don’t try to find the way to say “no” and still be the cool parent. Just tell your child why not. Let them see your discernment. Let them see your line of reasoning. They may not be happy with you, but they will at least know why it’s a bad idea. It may be something like this:
“No… we’re not going to do that. I know you really wanted to go with ——, but to be honest, I’ve not seen great decisions by —— and this concerns me. I’m not going to put you into a circumstance where —— could make another bad choice that you’d have to live with.”
Like I said, they may not like it, but they will definitely know why.
(BTW- If you’re unable to come up with a good “why” then you probably need to circle back around to #3 and make sure you’re discerning the Red Flag.)
Be prepared to be the only one who understand why you do what you do
I’ve said this so many times I can’t count. Be prepared to be the only one who understands why you do what you do! It’s as simple as that. Other parents will stand before God for their kids and you will stand for yours. You need to be sure to do what’s right for your family regardless of what everyone else is doing.
Remember: It’s still cool to “Just Say No!”