Parents Support One Another @ MyOutOfControlTeen.com/support = I need help with the following issue:
One of my sons favorite people is a 22 year old. He is a nice, polite person, but just isn't getting it when I tell him to not encourage my son to stay out late on school nights, support his having to go to school, mentor him regarding school, etc. It isn't working. I don't want to tell this young person to beat it, but...Now, my husband is about ready to kick all of our son's friends away-that's not realistic-our son will go nuts over that. We have tried to tell him, hey you can hang with them all weekend, from after school to Sunday evening, but it just isn't enough. I don't want to freak out on our son, but I feel a huge panic coming and Lord only knows what I might do. That's not going to help matters any!
Comment 1 -
Everyone needs to belong — to feel connected with others and be with others who share attitudes, interests, and circumstances that resemble their own. People choose friends who accept and like them and see them in a favorable light.
Teens want to be with people their own age — their peers. During adolescence, teens spend more time with their peers and without parental supervision. With peers, teens can be both connected and independent, as they break away from their parents' images of them and develop identities of their own.
While many families help teens in feeling proud and confident of their unique traits, backgrounds, and abilities, peers are often more accepting of the feelings, thoughts, and actions associated with the teen's search for self-identity.
The influence of peers — whether positive or negative — is of critical importance in your teen's life. Whether you like it or not, the opinions of your child's peers often carry more weight than yours.
Positive Peer Pressure
The ability to develop healthy friendships and peer relationships depends on a teen's self-identity, self-esteem, and self-reliance.
At its best, peer pressure can mobilize your teen's energy, motivate for success, and encourage your teen to conform to healthy behavior. Peers can and do act as positive role models. Peers can and do demonstrate appropriate social behaviors. Peers often listen to, accept, and understand the frustrations, challenges, and concerns associated with being a teenager.
Negative Peer Pressure
The need for acceptance, approval, and belonging is vital during the teen years. Teens who feel isolated or rejected by their peers — or in their family — are more likely to engage in risky behaviors in order to fit in with a group. In such situations, peer pressure can impair good judgment and fuel risk-taking behavior, drawing a teen away from the family and positive influences and luring into dangerous activities.
For example, teens with ADHD, learning differences or disabilities are often rejected due to their age-inappropriate behavior, and thus are more likely to associate with other rejected and/or delinquent peers. Some experts believe that teenage girls frequently enter into sexual relationships when what they are seeking is acceptance, approval, and love.
A powerful negative peer influence can motivate a teen to make choices and engage in behavior that his or her values might otherwise reject. Some teens will risk being grounded, losing their parents' trust, or even facing jail time, just to try and fit in or feel like they have a group of friends they can identify with and who accept them. Sometimes, teens will change the way they dress, their friends, give up their values or create new ones, depending on the people they hang around with.
Some teens harbor secret lives governed by the influence of their peers. Some — including those who appear to be well-behaved, high-achieving teens when they are with adults — engage in negative, even dangerous behavior when with their peers.
Once influenced, teens may continue the slide into problems with the law, substance abuse, school problems, authority defiance, gang involvement, etc.
If your teen associates with people who are using drugs or displaying self-destructive behaviors, then your child is probably doing the same.
Encourage Healthy and Positive Relationships
It is important to encourage friendships among teens. We all want our children to be with persons who will have a positive influence, and stay away from persons who will encourage or engage in harmful, destructive, immoral, or illegal activities.
Parents can support positive peer relationships by giving their teenagers their love, time, boundaries, and encouragement to think for themselves.
Specifically, parents can show support by:
*Having a positive relationship with your teen. When parent-teen interactions are characterized by warmth, kindness, consistency, respect, and love, the relationship will flourish, as will the teen's self-esteem, mental health, spirituality, and social skills.
*Being genuinely interested in your teen's activities. This allows parents to know their teen's friends and to monitor behavior, which is crucial in keeping teens out of trouble. When misbehavior does occur, parents who have involved their children in setting family rules and consequences can expect less flack from their children as they calmly enforce the rules. Parents who, together with their children, set firm boundaries and high expectations may find that their children's abilities to live up to those expectations grow.
*Encouraging independent thought and expression. In this way, teens can develop a healthy sense of self and an enhanced ability to resist peer pressure.
When Parents Don't Approve
You may not be comfortable about your son or daughter's choice of friends or peer group. This may be because of their image, negative attitudes, or serious behaviors (such as alcohol use, drug use, truancy, violence, sexual behaviors).
Here are some suggestions:
*Get to know the friends of your teen. Learn their names, invite them into your home so you can talk and listen to them, and introduce yourself to their parents.
*Do not attack your child's friends. Remember that criticizing your teen's choice of friends is like a personal attack.
*Help your teen understand the difference between image (expressions of youth culture) and identity (who he or she is).
*Keep the lines of communication open and find out why these friends are important to your teenager.
*Check whether your concerns about their friends are real and important.
*If you believe your concerns are serious, talk to your teenager about behavior and choices -- not the friends.
*Encourage your teen's independence by supporting decision-making based on principles and not other people.
*Let your teen know of your concerns and feelings.
*Encourage reflective thinking by helping your teen think about his or her actions in advance and discussing immediate and long-term consequences of risky behavior.
*Remember that we all learn valuable lessons from mistakes.
No matter what kind of peer influence your teen faces, he or she must learn how to balance the value of going along with the crowd (connection) against the importance of making principle-based decisions (independence)
And you must ensure that your teen knows that he or she is loved and valued as an individual at home.
Comment 2 -
“But, Mom, EVERYBODY does it!” It’s a child’s battle cry. Wanting to do what “all” the kids are doing is part of growing up. Children naturally form into groups by preadolescence and the desire to “belong” often produces a desire to conform. But when peer pressure shifts your child’s attention away from healthful activities and toward dangerous ones—drugs, drinking, smoking, sex—you have a right to be concerned. The media are full of horror stories of the consequences of peer pressure from teen suicide to drug overdoses to pregnancy.
To help your child cope with peer pressure, there are several tactics you can use. One of the best ones, from the very start, is keep close emotionally and physically to your child. Studies show that the child who is most susceptible to negative peer influence is the child who feels least close to a parent. If you leave an emotional vacuum in your child’s life, it will be filled from outside the family and possibly in a negative way.
Adolescents must learn to understand and rely on their own emerging selves. But teaching children how to make choices is far from simple. Expect to have to put in a lot of time.
What is Peer Pressure?
To open the door for talks with your child, make sure your youngster understands exactly what it means. Peer pressure is the perception that others expect you to act in a particular way. This perception may be wrong! Here are some elements of peer pressure you can discuss with your child:
• Kids want to feel a strong sense of acceptance and “belonging”.
• To get recognition.
• To look mature.
• To have fun.
Peer pressure is one of the most potent forces in your life, but its influence is often very subtle. You may not even realize you are being pressured. It’s a combination of subtle influences and not only from peers. Positive and negative pressures also come from parents, teachers, and the media.
Negative peer pressure happens when your friends ask you, or otherwise try to influence you, to do something you know is wrong! You don’t want to say “no” because:
• You don’t want to be left out.
• You don’t want to seem like a goody-goody.
• You don’t want to lose them as your friends.
• You’re afraid they’ll tease you and spread rumors around school.
Who Feels Peer Pressure?
Kids aren’t the only ones. Many adults allow themselves to be victimized by the “keep-up-with-the-Joneses” syndrome. But preteens and teens are extra vulnerable to negative peer influence. They are in the time of their lives in which they turn to their peer group for recognition and support and away from their families. They are trying to establish independence from the family. This is desirable and normal, but the process takes a long time and in the meantime, there can be confusion and frustration.
Kids whose parents and schools do little to teach them healthy ways of having fun are more likely to submit to negative peer pressure. They simply don’t know any better. Low self-esteem, depression and lack of understanding and communication between adolescent, the parents, school officials and other adults are all significant problems.
Parents who are critical, judgmental or unsympathetic to underlying emotions set up their kids for excessive peer influence. These kids will follow peer examples despite strong parental reactions. Why? They haven’t been given an incentive to follow parental guidance. They have to like you and trust you first.
What Should Parents Do?
1. From infancy on, play with your kids. Laugh with them and talk over concerns with them.
2. Set strong, effective limits. Stick to your basic standards as your child adjusts to the peer group.
3. Make your rules clear and don’t ignore problems when you child breaks one of the rules.
4. Help your child sort out “safe” from “risky” situations.
5. Discuss what behavior would be appropriate in various situations.
6. Help your child realize that peer pressure is largely in the child’s own mind. Therefore, the child can manage it.
7. Teach your child decision-making skills.
8. Stress how “grown-up” it is to stick to your guns in the face of ridicule, when you know you’re doing the right thing.
9. Teach your child mature and responsible qualities (making the best decisions for yourself) so that the child will strive to practice them instead of harmful activities that just look grown-up such as smoking, drinking and using drugs.
10. Acknowledge how hard it might be to turn down a friend. Teach your child to ask the question, “Is he really my friend if he asks me to do this?”
11. Encourage your child to always come to you to talk about incidents, even if he has submitted to the peer pressure. Promise that you won’t let your anger get in the way of listening fairly and trying to help.
12. If your child does make a mistake, reprimand him appropriately. Discuss with him how to prevent the same thing from happening again.
13. Above all, stress that children have a choice! They can evaluate each situation, consider the facts, examine personal feelings and values, and arrive at the best conclusion.
What Are The Consequences?
Give your child the opportunity to resist peer influences. Alert your child to potential problems. Give him or her time to anticipate these situations and devise and practice ways to overcome them. That’s how to help a young person develop skills to act out decisions. That’s how to develop true independence.
Consequences of Submitting to Negative Peer Pressure
1. Potential effects of and legal penalties for using drugs.
2. How dangerous it is to mix drugs and alcohol.
3. Specific ways that judgment can be impaired by drinking alcohol and using drugs.
4. The dangers of smoking.
5. Legal punishments for stealing.
6. Penalties for being caught cheating.
7. How sexual excitement can build and become difficult to control.
8. How and why it’s possible for a female to get pregnant, no matter what time of the month it is.
Consequences of Resisting Peer Pressure
1. Self-respect for being confident and strong.
2. Respect from friends and other adults.
3. Sway friends away from situations that may be dangerous, mean or just plain wrong.
4. Possible teasing and ostracism.
5. Risk losing friends and acceptance.
Even though they may not act like it, preteens and teens are looking to you for explanations and reassurance related to their changes in emotional and physical states. They’re anxious about their own development—more than you are! The more you talk with your child, supply information, and acknowledge the many feelings that might be involved, the less likely it is that he or she will be pressured into unhealthy or dangerous decisions. And the more they will know that you love them. Your child’s physician is an excellent source of further information about peer pressure.
Online Parent Support