Many parents are astounded at how easily their children are influenced by their peers and seek ways to help their children think on their own. What parents often fail to realize is the many ways in which they may be influenced by their peers! This is not a subject that many of us like to hear as we think of ourselves as independent thinking adults.
One common scenario is when a woman shows up at an event with other women and she is terribly over or under dressed. Many women will feel very uncomfortable and perhaps go home and share their distress with the family. What kids hear is that it's important to always be dressed like everyone else.
I've had many teens express to me that their parents never have friends over without serving alcohol. These kids say, 'Adults tell us to get high on life, but we don't see our parents doing that.' The kids go on to say that their parents don't have a drinking problem, but they still don't understand why they can't occasionally socialize without drinking alcohol.
Kids sometimes hear adults gossiping about a neighbor or fellow employee. This is actually one of the most common forms of peer group pressure. Instead of changing the subject or saying, 'I don't like to talk bad about other people'we don't know what's going on in their lives,' we often join in as that's the accepted thing to do.
Even when our children are little we always teach them to color in the lines as that is what's expected. I wonder if Picasso's parents told him there was only one way to color?
Our example of truly thinking on our own and not being overly concerned about what others think can go a long way in helping children learn to think on their own.
Excerpted in part from Sharon's classic parent guide: Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed. (HRD Press, 800-822-2801).(
Copyright ' 2008- 2014, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from the author.
P.S. Please see my other column, SmileNotes, titled 'Rank Does Have Its Privileges.'.