Do You Suffer from Parental Peer Pressure?

We have all heard about peer pressure in relation to children and their friends. Remember when you were a kid and how easy it was to "follow the crowd". It took a lot of courage to stand up to the values you were taught in your family when the other kids were doing stuff that looked fun and they didn't even get caught. But, with the help of your parents hopefully you learned that being your word and having integrity were important values to have later in life.

Recently, I heard from a parent of a middle school child, relating how hard it was to allow her child to find solutions to his own problems. In this case it was a lost school book. Apparently, it was a book that he was to have read and then do a book report on. The child went to the teacher and asked what he should do and the teacher told him to figure out what to do. The child of course went home and asked mom to fix it. When mom said he needed to think about some options of what he could do, he became angry and started blaming her, his teacher, the school and anyone or anything else he could think of to not be responsible for the lost book.

Mom wondered if she was putting too much pressure on him to find his way out of this dilemma and went on to talk about a project night at school. The children were all supposed to do individual projects on a specific topic. Then they did a presentation for the parents. That night mom saw many projects that in her opinion were so polished that she felt sure the parents had done a lot of the work. Her son however did his own and was not nearly as complex or beautifully done as the others. He received a high mark for his effort but mom was feeling a bit guilty for not helping him do something more sophisticated. And, apparently, the other parents seemed to feel it is their job to "help". And, she felt badly for not doing more to help.

Now, I have another opinion. That is parenting is not an easy job but we must look at the long term not the short term. We must always look to the skills and values needed for our children to be a successful and productive adults. One of those skills is to be able to figure out how to deal with a problem without having mom and dad step in to solve it. Even if other parents think you are holding the "bar" too high.

Think about what you child will be capable of at 14 or 18 if he never learns how to be responsible or resourceful without looking to others for the solutions? This is the time for training. Once your child is 18 years old it will be too late. Then the complaint will be...he isn't motivated, blames everyone for his failures and is irresponsible.

So, get tough. Be empathetic and encouraging but don't step in and rob your child of the experience of competence and creativity. If you feel you need help raising cooperative, responsible children take a look at our parenting classes.

Author: Phyllis Grannis