Peer Pressure on Parents

Parental peer pressure is often a neglected and unacknowledged influence that exerts adverse effects on parents and even more so on their children. Often, the consequence of this pressure such as driving children to perform more in academics, sports, and arts is seen as a desirable trait than a deplorable reality.

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Usually peer pressure is associated with children, teenagers, and in areas of academics and profession. But it is never acknowledged in other roles that adults take up, such as parenting. But if we observe closely, we notice that a significant part of parental behavior is dictated by their peers and programmed beliefs about how a parent ought to behave.

In these cases, the peers include neighbors, relatives, and friends with children. Even parents of the parents become peers. As always peer pressure, even more so in parenting, too is an unacknowledged but undeniable powerful force that influence that often leads to adverse effects than any benefits.

Peer pressure in parenting leads each parent to imitate a peer of theirs, mislead by the assumption that such behavior is idealistic and is best for the child. But unfortunately, what’s best for one child is need not be so for another.

father beating childThe pressure felt by parents is often shown on the children with adverse effects on them. Severe restrictions and impossible goals are laid upon the child, all under the guise of ensuring the child’s future when it is actually peer pressure for the parent. And any failure on the part of the child to comply with the rules and goals are met with punishment measures ranging from mild to severe. More the pressure a parent lets in from peers the more severe the restrictions or punishments for the child.

Parents begin to compare their child with other children, thus effectively creating peer pressure for the child. A child’s performance at school, sports, arts, or even casual play becomes the parent’s measure of success in parenting and thus a personal connection between the child’s so called successes and parent’s identity is established. The child becomes an object and an instrument through which a parent can establish his/her identity and success amidst peers.

In cases where the parents of parents become the peers it is often in a context of dissociation from the peer group, meaning the parents do not want to raise their children as their parents raised them. This, in view of the parents and other peers, is seen as a positive behavior. Unfortunately it is not so. This viewpoint again places the need of the parent to prove to be a better parent over the actual needs of the child. It also presupposes that since the parent’s upbringing was bad the opposite behavior is good.

peer pressure on parentsI have had cases where peer pressure has led the parents to discriminate their children on even their physical appearance. Parents scolding or even physically assault their children for their weight issues, and their sicknesses.

Abuse of the child is common, especially in countries like India. The parent specifically requesting the teachers to punish their child to make her/him perform is even sometimes seen as a desirable parenting trait than a deplorable reality.

Of course every parent wants the best for their child, but the problem lies in blindly accepting the established norms or choices of peers is the best for their child.

On the other extreme, parents who have become the model peers succumb to the pressure of maintaining that social image and, as a result, cause suffering to themselves and their children.

Peer pressure makes it easy for a parent to fall prey to manipulation by others. For instance it is easy to lead such parents to believe certain lifestyles, products, and services are better for their child’s welfare. The best example in this context is micro-chipping of school uniforms – a proposal, and a reality in some schools, in countries like the US, Brazil, and the UK. A local example would be the marketing of certain food products for children which promise a ready performance improvement in the child’s performance when their products are consumed.

Peer pressure in parenting can only be changed when its presence is first acknowledged by the parent and then realizing that it only exerts an adverse influence on the parent and the child. Peer pressure is not about pressure from outside. It always occurs when adults compare themselves to their peers due to some existing feeling of lack within or out of fear of failure.

In a significant amount of cases where parents bring their children to hypnotherapy, the child’s problem is born out of parental pressure. I have also had cases where the child has absolutely no issues, but the parent is coercing the child into behaving the way the parent wants. In these cases, the parents are not even willing to listen to the fact the problem lies with them rather than with their children.

Suggested Readings:
Emotional Drama: Our Addiction to Issues
A Guitar Player Among Footballers

Photo Courtesy: David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

Quarrel with your spouse if you want to ruin your kid’s life!

Weird as it may seem, this is exactly what you will be doing by constantly carrying on quarrels and fights with your spouse at your home. Your children, no matter what their ages, tend to develop a sense of low self-esteem (at times self-hatred), nervousness, constant anxiety and stress. They can also end up in bad marriages themselves much later.

You may be quarrelling for many reasons. You may always be right every time you fight with your spouse (although I highly doubt it). But if you care for your children, the quarrelling’s got to stop.

For children home is a place where love and care is nourished. It is also a sacred refuge for children. They come running home if they get hurt, if they are scolded in school, if they are teased during play and if they feel lonely among friends. But constant quarrelling at that very home creates a tensed atmosphere and it makes the children highly anxious. Because they do not know when they would hear angry voices and shouts next, they are always on edge. What children learn very early at home, they translate it to the world outside home. They grow to be anxious and nervous whenever voices grow loud in any place. They become nervous around any sort of arguments between any strangers too.

Secondly, many children end up blaming themselves for the quarrels of their parents. They assume they are somehow responsible for the tensions at home and consequently develop low self-esteem or at times it goes to the point of self-hatred.

Their low self-esteem is further strengthened by the constant grumbling and muttering of one parent. It is common that in most quarrelling partners, one usually ends up nagging and grouching with a sour-faced expression long after the quarrel is over. This parent also snaps back at children venting his/her anger at the kids. The kids are at a loss to cope with this situation and they blame themselves over and over.

In some cases, the parents also end up dragging the children into the arguments. Each demands the child to support him/her and tends to speak about the defects of the other parent. The child is caught in between. Though in such cases the child never asked to give a verdict nor is admonished for being silent, the child nevertheless suffers lot of pain and anxiety because of being a witness to the dispute and having to hear the angry and ugly tone of voices up close.

And never assume you can fight after the child has gone to sleep, even if the child is sleeping in another room. A child instantly wakes the moment first word of the argument breaks out. Commonly you can also see the child pulls the blanket over itself and notice properly you will also make out the outline of the child pressing hands over his/her ears tightly. They are just wishing they were elsewhere in the world but there.

The anxiety, alienation, low self-esteem (or self hatred), and nervousness your nasty fights create in your child lasts for many years – in many cases into adulthood. Another long term consequence is that many of these children, when they grow up, unconsciously find themselves in similar marriages. There is a reason why this happens.

Though the children hate to hear the quarrel while it is happening, their subconscious is quietly absorbing the ways with which disagreements in a marriage are dealt with. It is learning how to survive if it gets caught in a similar circumstance in future. Now for subconscious what is known is pleasurable and what is unknown is painful. By living amidst quarrelling parents it now knows how to behave during disagreement. But it hasn’t learned how to live harmoniously. When the child grows up and marries, he/she starts unconsciously behaving the same way his/her parent did during a problem – even though he/she may not want to do that consciously.

So the next time you are getting into a bitter altercation with your spouse think what is at stake for you as well as for your children.

Photo Courtesy: Photostock at freedigitalphotos.net