Thinking. Peer pressure part 1
I have been feeling for some time that my friendship book needs a section on peer pressure. So here's the first part.
If there are two words that could just about completely sum up being a teenager, they are ‘peer’ and ‘pressure’, usually used together in the same sentence by adults, especially parents, with terrified looks on their faces.
When people talk about peer pressure, they usually think about things like drinking, drugs, sex, driving too fast and doing dangerous, harmful things. Apparently teenagers are so susceptible to peer pressure that they will end up doing things that could kill them because they so desperately want to fit in.
When people talk about peer pressure they think that it’s impossible to stand up to it, that it’s a normal part of being a teenager and that everyone has to suffer through it sometime. Apparently teenagers are so weak that they have no choice but to do what everyone else is doing all the time. If they’re lucky they’ll come through relatively ok and go on to lead a normal life.
Some of these things are slightly true. A lot of them appear to be true. But many of these things are not true.
It’s helpful to understand a bit about peer pressure.
When you’re a child, your development and what you learn is mostly focused around parents and family. What your family thinks is very important to you. When you’re a teenager, you take what you’ve learned at home and start to see how you fit in the outside world. Now it becomes important to have your peers think positively of you. Being influenced by peers is a necessary part of growing up.
I think peer influence is a great thing.
In good times, being with peers gives us compassion, relating skills, and knowledge. Peers can deepen our understanding of life, can help us make decisions and can help us get a better understanding of who we are. There can be a great sense of community and oneness with a group of peers.
In bad times, peers can give us an opportunity to stand up for what we believe, a reason to examine our motives more thoroughly and a chance to build strength into our lives.
Want to read part Two of this series? Click here.