Parents, Teens, and Peer Pressure

Most parents like to think that they have some say in what their teenage child does, but the truth is that most parents sorely underestimate the power of peer pressure. Parents should take it personally., but the sad fact is that the most influential people in your teen’s life are their friends.

Peer pressure can turn a perfectly level headed child into class-cutting, insolent, problem child. Why is this? Well, several reasons. First teens are not children, and they’re not adults so you can’t use either form of psychology on them. A teen’s body is under the chemical influence of hormones. You’re not dealing with a rational person. Hormones are powerful chemicals, and they are telling your teen to exert their independence””and they do.

You’ll find that once puberty hits, whatever unresolved family problems lying just under the surface will be rear their heads and be magnified a thousand times. Past hurts and difficulties will show themselves in numerous destructive ways. For example, when you missed out on an important event in their life as a child, a temper tantrum may have consisted of a crying spell and a slammed door.

That same scenario played out in the teen years may consist of partying with friends, sex, and/or drug use. It all depends on the social network your child is associating with. High school can be a tough world. Learning to copy with emotions and peer pressure is hard enough, let alone maintaining any self esteem.

Many teens may appear nonchalant and put on a brave face, but they are fragile. Peer related stress can come in the form of vicious gossip, getting bullied or teased, or knowing that friends are participating in dangerous things like alcohol, drugs, or other risky behaviors.

Stress can also come from not joining the “in crowd’ and fear of rejection. Does your child have the tools to emotionally cope with these daily battles? Are you equipped to help them deal with conflicts, cliques, and drugs?

To complicate matters, teens have their own language. Do you know what “bud’? is? No, it’s not a beer. Do you like’s your teen’s friends? Do you know who they are? Does your teen spend time on sites like Facebook or MySpace? What are they doing online? These are just a few questions you should know the answers to.

It is your responsibility as a parent to pull your teen back from the edge. Learn to recognize signs of stress and show them healthy way to deal with it. Also, be a good example. Don’t yell and scream if you unless you want them to do the same. You’ve guided them up to this point, don’t stop now. Address the problem and assert your parental rights.

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