One word: relationship. That is the key to helping your children with peer pressure. Building a strong relationship with your child from the moment they are born, being able to communicate on every level, and giving them the security of your unconditional love will bring you and your teen through these tough times. If you do not have a relationship with your teen already it will be difficult although not impossible. You can form a new bond, albeit a different kind but it will take much work and dedication on your part.
The teen years are sometimes hard on everyone in a family. The teen included. They often do not know what is going on inside them or what the emotions they are feeling are all about. I know this because I have a strong bond with my children, one of which went through mild emotional changes in their teen years and another that had a full blown crises of rebellion. But because we had a good line of communication already built into our relationship we were able to talk some of it through. The main thing I heard from both of them is that they did not know how they felt, they could not discern the emotions they were feeling and they did not know where they came from.
I know a big thing nowadays is to blame it on hormones and I do believe that, do not get me wrong, hormones are a huge part of it. But we cannot blame hormones on everything anymore than we can blame our parents, our peers, our emotional hurts, etc, for murdering someone or robbing a bank. We have to let our children know that even though they are feeling these things that they are accountable for their actions. And that even if their friends are doing something it does not mean that they should do it.
I guess my dad was right when he used to irritate me with, “If your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump too?” You need to instill in your children that being popular with their group should not depend on following the wrong that they do.
It is important to know their friends. One thing that I have done is that I have always encouraged my children to bring their friends to our house. It may have been more work but I got to get to know their friends and interact with them so that I could better understand who my children were getting their ideas from. It is important to know what you are dealing with. I would offer food, rent video games, tell them crazy stories from the seventies when I grew up, all in the hopes that I could draw these children into my home.
It not only gave me an opportunity to know their friends but I also wanted to have an opportunity to perhaps help another child or impact their lives in a positive way somehow. I know that my children knew my motives in advance because they know me so well but they did not mind because I was not being nosey, they knew I just loved them so much that I wanted to be a part of every aspect of their lives. I also knew when to give them their space (most of the time anyway).
I tried my best to have a home that was a safe haven and a relaxed environment that anyone would enjoy being in. I got to know the kids and was a welcoming sight when they came over. My daughter and her friends welcomed me with open arms. Sometimes my son and his friends gave me some weird looks but they were happy to see me when I was the bearer of gifts in the form of snacks! Boys are a little harder nut to crack but it can be done, sometimes through the stomach and sometimes just getting positive attention every time they come around breaks down the barriers. Trust issues are key in having your children’s friends over, you need to always being welcoming, always being consistent, always having the same rules makes it a safe environment.
I know with my son’s friends it has sometimes been hard because in different homes the rules are different. Boys sometimes use cuss words as a passage into manhood, or at least that is my opinion. Anyway, when they get started playing video games there always seems to be one or two guys who feel the need to use expletives. I am not a prude but there are certain words we do not use in our home. Sometimes I have to set them straight but I do it in a way that is not over-reactionary. I simply tell them that I would appreciate it if they do not use those words in my home, with a please and thank you. They are most gracious in following those rules and if they are not willing they usually do not come back. Neither one of my children has a problem with this because they know the rules of our home and usually I am not the one doing the asking, they are.
I know this article was about peer pressure. But as I stated in the first paragraph I believe the key is having a solid, loving relationship with your children, being able to talk to them about anything, and knowing their friends, teachers, activity leaders, and being a huge part of their lives. Having a lot of family time together and bonding on vacations, letting them in on issues that affect your family and making them feel part of the whole family process will keep you close. When you have these bonds then you have an avenue to your child’s heart and soul that gives you a position that their peers can not overtake.
I am a Christian and I believe in instilling a love for God and Jesus Christ His Son into my children from the time they were very small. I let them know that He is with them everywhere they go and that He will lead them when they have a decision to make. Teach your children to be black and white and less gray. Right is right, and wrong is wrong; there are plenty of things in our society today that fall into the gray areas. But there needs to be a right and wrong for your family and a belief system that keeps them structured and able to make sound decisions when times get tough out there.
Do not hesitate to give them your opinions on what is right and wrong. Do not hesitate to make rules for your home. Give your children something to hang onto, they need a solid home, solid beliefs, and solid knowledge about what is acceptable and what is not in their environment. If you do not have a solid belief that you pass along to them they will run helter-skelter doing anything anyone wants them to. We are parents and we are responsible for what our children believe, we are not imposing our beliefs on them, we are giving them something to hold on to when life gets hard. Family is key, love will prevail but we must love them for their good, with their best in mind, and a lot of our time has to be sacrificial when it comes to our children. This is what will sustain them, this is what will hold them, and this is what will help them through all the peer pressure they will face.
As long as there is love in the home the children will not begrudge the rules and regulations of the home because when they know it is all done for their good, out of overwhelming love for them they will know it in the depths of their hearts. They will see your love and sacrifice and want to follow. They may fail at times but you will be there to help them through and when you are there for them the relationship even becomes more solid. Let love be the reason for everything you do. Love never fails.
Guest Author: Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be in touch through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail rest you know.
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