Parenting Teenagers - Teens and Peer Pressure
Your teenager faces several areas of peer pressure during his or her high school years.
What makes it even harder for your teenager is that most parents do not understand the depths to which these pressures go.
Cigarettes and Alcohol
Cigarettes and alcohol more than likely will be among the first areas which your teenager will have to face peer pressure. With movies and television flashing images of underage smoking and drinking, most teenagers are shown only the more enjoyable and funny sides of these habits.
High school years are very competitive, and where your teenager stands on the popular scale with the rest of his or her peers is very important. To be considered a “looser” is one of the biggest fears of today’s teenager.
To avoid this label they sometimes will portray an image of being tough, rebellious and uncontrolled by their parents. For today’s teenagers, smoking and drinking are the easiest ways to declare their independence.
A more dangerous and potentially life-threatening pressure teens face is drugs. The first and most commonly available is marijuana. This is a cheap and readily-available drug in today’s society, and most teenagers do not consider it harmful. In their eyes it does not cause serious addictions like heroin or methamphetamines. The marijuana use depicted in movies and television does not show teenagers that marijuana is illegal and that being caught under the influence or in possession of such an item can ruin their future. Additionally, smoking marijuana may lead to more serious drugs such as heroin, crack or methamphetamines.
Every year the age at which teenagers begin having sex gets younger and younger. In order to be popular or liked by boys, a girl must be willing to have sex. Otherwise, they are considered “up-tight” and are paid no attention. Boys who are not willing to have casual sex with a girl are considered weak. Oral sex has become very popular among today’s teenager due to teens’ belief believe that it isn’t serious since there is no risk of pregnancy.
What Parents Can Do
Telling your teenager not to give into these peer pressures will have little or no effect. Your teenager equates his popularity among his friends with his self worth. The more insecure your teenager is, the more likely he will give into these pressures to be accepted and popular.
Threats and punishment by parents put additional pressure on teenagers. Now they face the pressure from their peers on one side and the threats from their parents on the other side. Trying to avoid or ease some of the pressure, teenagers may avoid contact with their parents or lie to them.
Instead, you should recognize that fitting in and not being called a looser is a very serious and important to your teen. Convey to your teen that you understand the pressures she is facing. Offer open discussions about situations and incidents - without the threat of punishment or judgment. This will encourage your teenager to talk and lead them to trust you for advice about specific issues they are facing. By openly discussing the pressures they are facing with you, you will have a chance to voice your concerns and your opinion. Your teenager will be far more receptive to your suggestions if situations are discussed peacefully.
Be open with your teenager about all forms of sexual intercourse. Explain that there are other reasons not to become sexually involved too early. Besides worrying about pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, remind your teenager that they also need to consider their pride and self respect.
Christina Botto has been involved with helping parents and teenagers resolve complicated issues for more than 14 years, observing and developing parenting strategies. Her dedication to helping parents inspired her to write her book, ‘Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-step Guide for Parents that Works.’
Christina continues to help parents and their teens through her website http://www.parentingateenager.net, where parents can find her book, news for Education K-12 and College, LIVE Counseling, and a variety of other tools and resources for both communicating with their teen and helping parents deal with issues they are struggling with.
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