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.

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

Social Aver‘ages’ – Part 2

Once we realize Social Aver‘ages’ are just averages not benchmarks it is easy for us to get rid of our subconscious beliefs with some consistent effort.

 

Family Averages

If you haven’t read Part 1, read it here.

It is practically impossible for any single human to meet all Social Aver‘ages’. It is like striving to be a Common Man. None of us liked to be called a common man yet we all strive to meet average expectations of the society.

Some people may achieve professional success according to expectations but cannot meet that in family life. Some people have tremendous success in family but fail at personal aver’ages’. Each of us is unique.

Another important aspect to be aware of is that a social aver‘age’ is not a biological aver‘age’.  Socially the aver‘age’ of pairing and reproduction varies from culture to culture. However, a person is biologically ready to reproduce when he/she attains puberty which is roughly around ages 10 to 13. You must be worried if you do not attain puberty even by 18, not if you can’t get married by 30.

So the first step to getting rid of Social Aver‘ages’ from your subconscious is to understand Social Aver‘ages’ are all just averages not benchmarks. There is no harm in sticking to them but if we fail to achieve them it is okay too.

It is also important to understand that as long as we place emphasis on what our friends, relatives and neighbours talk about us, we cannot really shake Social Aver‘ages’ out of our heads. And as I said in the earlier post, more than others it is the critic within who needs to be silenced. It means we also need stop judging others based on Social Aver‘ages’.

Effort is the next logical step. Whenever you find you are comparing or criticising yourself or others on basis of the Social Aver‘ages’, stop and review your opinions. This can happen only if you are committed to change.

A Social Aver‘age’ is a deep rooted belief – at foundation level. So it will keep popping up consistently and your efforts need to be that consistent too. You keep doing this with persistence, you will soon find that your issues based on Social Aver‘ages’ coming down and you are able to live life with much more personal freedom.

Just keep the awareness going in your head and you are bound to change your core beliefs! Expect setbacks because they could happen. Read my blog on House of Cards Effect to know facts about how, because of a false assumption, we easily give up on resolving our problems.

Lastly, if you are a parent please stop pressurising your children on the basis of Social Aver‘ages’. We therapists get too many disappointed parents and discouraged youngsters.

Photo Courtesy: photostock @ freedigitalphotos.net

Social Aver’ages’ – Part 1

Socially we are programmed to confirm to certain aver’ages’. These Social Aver’ages’ can end up making our lives miserable because of the importance we place on them.

‘I will be 29 next month and I am still not married!’ a girl told me once in my consultation. She is not alone in this.

‘I am 31 and I do not know how to mingle with people properly,’ many guys told me with obvious pain written all over their faces.

‘Most of my colleagues are much younger than me. I feel ashamed I am just a Team Leader in my office,’ is another statement (more or less) I hear again and again.

‘My younger brother earns much more than me!’

Every culture has its aver‘ages’ – an unwritten social chart that dictates appropriate age for each important phase in life. These aver‘ages’ are embedded in our minds as a product of childhood programming and peer pressure. Yes, they are subconscious. And we try our best to adhere to it. I get a lot of clients who have issues merely because they do not fall into these aver‘ages’. They place so much of emphasis and importance that it is all they could think of day in and day out.

We fear so much what the world will say if we do not stick to these averages that we end up creating a severe critic within ourselves. Whether the world will look down upon us or not, the moment we fail any aver‘age’ this critic within will censure us endlessly. The result: We suffer from severe self-esteem issues. But that is just the beginning of our problems.

If our subconscious has an issue it cannot resolve, it will create a defence mechanism to hide that weakness from the world. The defence could be anger, withdrawal, arrogance, displacement of issue (where you start pointing out similar issues in others so they will become the butt of ridicule and you can hide behind the diversion), etc.

Over time, these defences themselves turn into issues merely because it had become a habit. Of course, simultaneously the stress being produced by the core issue within also manifests itself in various ways. The complexity of the issues grows so much that we even forget our core issue after sometime.

And it is all because of the importance we place on these aver‘ages’. Yes, the programming begins very early and is subconscious. But it does not mean that you cannot overcome it. Frankly, you don’t even need to rush to a therapist to address this issue. It just takes awareness, some effort, and persistence.

I will discuss more about what kind of awareness you need to carry and what effort is required in the next post.

Photo Courtesy: Salvatore Vuono at freedigitalphotos.net