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4 Signs of Parental Peer Pressure and What to Do About It

I’ve been told by more seasoned parents than myself that they fear for the youth of today. On top of parental peer pressure stresses, they don’t know how we will raise good children while protecting their innocence.

My response; God put us here at this time for some definite purpose. I don’t know what mine is exactly but raising children is a big part of it. I plan to do my best. We may not be perfect, but we’re trying.

It’s not easy, that’s for sure. Balancing the desire to give your children every enjoyment possible and the need to raise children with a good work ethic and moral compass is in stark contrast to one another. Then there are other parents, not all but enough, that make it even more difficult.

Have you ever felt guilty or like you’ve made the wrong decision for your child or family because of what you heard or saw other families doing? You may be afflicted with parental peer pressure.

Just as children are pressured by their peers, parents are also pressured by other parent peers. I’m sure it’s unintentional. I doubt most parents purchased cool stuff for their kids because they wanted to be seen as the better parents on the block. Who knows, maybe they did. Either way, parental peer pressure is a thing.

Parental peer pressure can make you feel guilty.

Fingers pointing at a mom who feels guilty because of parental peer pressure.

Rather, your children make you feel guilty. Relentlessly bringing up how no one else in their grade has to do chores as they do. Everyone else has a phone or device. Other families have way more fun than our family. Suddenly, you feel pressured by others’ decisions because you see the impact their choices have had on your child.

Parental peer pressure causes you to question the decisions you make for your family.

I see other families—they seem to operate just fine with their 2-3 kids, everyone has a cell phone, they post their adventurous family vacations online, my child tells me how cool his friend’s family is. Parental peer pressure has me ask myself, “Why don’t I make the same decisions as that family?”

The most obvious fact is that we are not that family. They do what is right for theirs as we must do what is right for ours.

Angela and I do our best not to give in to the weight of parental peer pressure. We instead base our decisions on research and personal experiences that we have lived or witnessed. All parents are responsible for making informed decisions. Not on a whim, not because society tells us what to do, but because we believe it’s what’s best for our family on all levels. If we give into parental peer pressure and let our children do something against our better judgment that can potentially harm them because they are not old enough, then we are to blame for any negative repercussions.

We know we cannot protect our children from everything. But it is our job to protect them from things and situations we believe have a higher risk of being harmful.

We believe realistic shoot-em-up games that involve killing people have no place in a child’s life. Scary movies have zero value and only open a window for evil. We believe that our children should not watch shows with sexual content and should look away if it does come up. We change the station if a song comes on with provocative or degrading language. We believe sleepovers expose our children to vulnerabilities and risks that aren’t necessary, and we believe a cell phone that unleashes the power of the world wide web would do more harm than good in the hands of a 12-year-old who doesn’t understand mental health.

Cartoon of a young girl being attacked by cyberbullying because of parental peer pressure.

Those are a few of the things we believe in, and we’ve experienced parental peer pressure because of them. If you don’t think sexual or violent content will shape your child’s mind, I encourage you to read this article about the effects of sexual content on youth. This article from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology explains the impact viewing violent content has on children.

Long story short, if you find yourself questioning your decisions because of parental peer pressure and because other parents don’t parent as you do, I ask you to take a breath, sit down, and regroup.

Talk it out with your spouse. Why did you come up with the rules you have? What values are important for you to teach your children, and would changing your position undo or further those values? It is ok to change your mind if given new, credible information. It is not ok to bend to parental peer pressure for the sake of relieving the guilt.

Parental peer pressure can cause you to fall into the trap of “keeping up with the Joneses.”

A sign showing us going one direction and the joneses going another to signify parental peer pressure.

We all want to be accepted. I think it is human nature to seek out approval from our peers. If you let that need for acceptance and approval lead you down a path you wouldn’t usually go, then you can bet you are giving in to parental peer pressure.

Maybe you’ve found yourself at a gathering of friends. All the kids are running around like crazy. Everything is super noisy, and all the adults want to do is chat and play a game of cards. Solution? Put on a movie in the basement for the kids! It seems like a good idea until you find out that it is PG13, and your three kids— ages ten and under—will be watching it.

It’s ok to tell your kids they have to stay upstairs and play quietly. It’s ok to decide to leave. It takes courage to speak up and say, “Hey, can we change it to a more kid-friendly movie?” You’ve parented for this long, stood up for your beliefs in other ways, so saying the movie needs to be switched is doable.

Yes, some parents may think or even say how lame you are. So what? Are you afraid you won’t be invited over anymore, or they’ll think you’re helicopter parents?

Your desire to be accepted is not greater than your duty not to be negatively impacted by parental peer pressure and to protect your children’s innocence. If you don’t get invited back, then good riddance. Those people just proved they aren’t a positive influence in your family’s life and therefore don’t need to be prominent figures.

Protecting your family is more important than a social life. Click to Tweet

There will also be parents who think it’s awesome that you dared to stand up for what you believe in and protect your children. You may never hear them say it, but it subconsciously gives them the courage to do the same.

Parental peer pressure in a positive way.

A man offering an idea as a lightbulb in his hands to help with parental peer pressure.

What’s also important to consider is if you are pressuring other parents. Is it positive or negative? Are you respecting other parents’ wishes regarding their kids, or are you trying to convince them that a particular behavior is OK even if they disagree?

Maybe after reading this, YOU are feeling pressured to change some of your parenting decisions. My goal isn’t to get you to believe the same things we do—my goal is for you to recognize parental peer pressure and avoid the negative while sticking around for the positive.

If you’re questioning the decisions you’ve made for your children, do as I recommended earlier. Sit down with your spouse and discuss the decisions you’ve made. Are they out of convenience and not in the best interests of your child? Are your decisions well informed and a benefit to your child and the entire family? Whatever the case, it’s up to you and your spouse to discuss it and figure out what is best for your family.

It’s important is not to let negative parental peer pressure have any play in your family decision-making.

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.

—1 Corinthians 16:13

I believe this is what we as parents need to do when faced with negative parental peer pressure. If a parent of your child’s friend texts you asking if your 7-year-old can sleepover, be on your guard. If your 11-year-old wants to watch a PG13 movie with friends—against your wishes—stand firm. Be courageous when telling other parents what boundaries you’ve set for your family even though you know they don’t have the same boundaries. Be strong when you feel like you’re being judged because you went against the grain.

Our local priest once said something to the effect that he does not fear the judgment of man—he fears the judgment of God.

I mean, wow! It sounds like common sense, but how often do we get that backward? We fear the superficial judgment of man instead of the real judgment of God. Don’t fall into the trap of letting negative parental peer pressure guide your parenting and family decisions. We advise our children not to give in to peer pressure, especially when they know something is wrong—we would do well to follow our own advice.

I hope you’ve found this to be helpful and encouraging!

Do you feel like you’ve given into parental peer pressure at times? Maybe it’s been a lot lately, and perhaps you are succeeding at standing your ground and holding firm to what you believe in in your family’s best interests! What are some of the rules you have for your family that your kids think are strict compared to their friend’s family? Let us know in the comments below and share this to help spread the word!

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