I feel a great sense of pride these days. I have raised two daughters to the point where they are becoming more independent and don't need my constant supervision. My girls are 8 and 9, and I am both relieved and terrified all at the same time. I no longer need to worry about SIDS, chocking or falling off the bed. I can rest easy knowing that they are safe and will hopefully remain safe and healthy. Or can I?
I was reasonably certain of that until my oldest daughter came home, questioning why she isn't allowed to do some of the things her friends can do. Granted, I am a throw back to Little House on the Prairie in some ways. I believe we don't need to rush kids into their teen years. It isn't a tragedy if they haven't been to a Hillary Duff concert, they won't wither and die if their ears aren't pierced by the age of 7 and sin of sins, my youngest has NEVER been to a sleep over.
I don't really have anything against any of the activities most kids participate in these days, but I also don't feel compelled to thrust my children into every party, every trend and every event they are invited to. The odd thing is that my daughter is actually ok with it. She loves feeling protected and loved and has great confidence in my decision making process. I am the one who is having a panic attack.
Peer pressure never goes away. I think the older we get the worse it gets. To be honest, and I find myself even less equipped to deal with the pressure from other parents now then I was in high school. I do know that my reactions will go a long way toward shaping my children's behaviors when it comes to people expressing their disapproval about our choices. I find that taking a deep breath and remembering why I am making the choices I make helps relieve much of the anxiety I sometimes feel at bucking the crowd. In most cases the following strategies also work well:
Our kids will have many opportunities to explore the world and we will not always be there to guide them. Kids with a sense of conscience, empathy and respect will tend to make great choices in even the most difficult situations. Work on nurturing these skills and you will be one of the few parents who can sleep through the night when your kids are teenagers!