Hello, Mini-Women! I am totally jazzed about our series on peer pressure and from your comments it sounds like you are, too. Even those who are homeschooled can suffer from it, as BETH pointed out. I love it when we hit on a topic that just about everybody can relate to. And for those of you who've said this isn't a problem for you, stay with us anyway because (a) you might be able to help the rest of us and (b) sometime, somewhere, somehow, you'll feel some pressure and it's a wise mini-woman who's prepared.
I think a really good place to start is to talk about what peer pressure ISN'T. It sort of clears the way so we can really deal with the important stuff. So let's look at five things some people believe about this subject that AREN'T true.
MISTAKEN IDEA #1: "Any time you feel like you want to do what everybody else is doing, that's wrong. " Uh, no! First of all, at the age you are, it is TOTALLY NORMAL for you to want to fit in. It's part of learning how to get along in society. Belonging feels good because basically it IS good. So if you want to listen to the same kind of music all your friends are listening to and you're drawn to the same kind of movies and games, those kinds of things, you are being a normal, well-adjusted tween girl. The PROBLEM comes in when you do that stuff ONLY because everybody else is doing it AND it goes against what you really believe. But if all the girls at your church are wearing pink and you don't have a problem with pink and it's fun to all show up for Sunday school in pink t-shirts, go for it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, if all the girls at your church are swearing every chance they get and you feel like maybe you should swear too so you can fit in, that's something else entirely. THAT is peer pressure.
MISTAKEN IDEA #2: "You should always try to be unique." Here's the deal with that: you already ARE unique. You don't have to TRY to be. Your job is to discover your true self, and when you do, you're also likely to find other people you have a lot in common with. You'll fit with them, and that's good. Usually when people refuse to do ANY of the good things other people are doing, they're doing it because they're mixed up about something.
MISTAKEN IDEA #3: "If you're not going to give in to peer pressure you have to act like a complete misfit." Nope. It is NOT necessary to refuse everything about the tween scene to avoid doing something wrong with the group. For Pete's sake, not everybody is out to get in trouble! Think about it. Liking the good music of your generation (and there is some) has always been the way for tweens and teens to bond and find part of their independence from grown-ups. I'm not talking about hard core rap -- I just mean the fun music that you and your friends all know the words to so you can sing them together in the back seat of the mini-van on your way to dance class or soccer practice. The same goes for G or PG movies you all like (and that your parents approve of). And current slang, as long as it isn't swearing. And even fashion to a point. You don't have to dress like you're forty years old in order to be okay with God! In other words, you can refuse to give in to peer pressure and still be cool.
MISTAKEN IDEA #4. "People pressure you just to get you in trouble." Really? Is everyone you know that much of a rebel? And do they not have anything better to do than to worry about you being too good? The truth of it is, when people pressure you to do things you know aren't okay or that you just choose not to do because they aren't 'you', they usually do it because they feel insecure about what they're doing. If they can get everybody to do it, it feels safer. Some people think they have to be in control of what other people do so they'll feel more important. They haven't figured out that they're already important. You can pray for those people. And you can say no to them. They'll move on because it's really themselves they're concerned about.
MISTAKEN IDEA #5: "Nobody will like you if you don't do what everybody is doing." It might seem like that's going to be true, but it totally isn't. If you are careful HOW you refuse peer pressure, not only will you not be ostracized by absolutely everybody, but a number of people will actually respect you for it. The "HOW" is the important part and that's one of the next things we'll talk about in this series. For now, just know that if you say something like, "I'm not doing that, and the rest of you shouldn't either or you'll end up lousy sinners who are beyond help," of COURSE people aren't going to like you. I wouldn't like you that much myself for the moment! But if you simply walk away, or say, "No thanks. Not my thing," that doesn't give anybody a reason to hate your guts. We'll talk more about attitude and body language and the whole idea of looking down on people. In the meantime -- turning your back on peer pressure doesn't mean you won't have any friends.
If you'd like to comment, will you share with us which of those Mistaken Ideas you have believed? You can talk about all the ones that apply to you, and if you want to give the story behind them you can. Remember that for right now, we're just figuring out what isn't true -- we're not ready to "fix" each other or tell each other what we should do. If you already know all those ideas are wrong, and you've never bought into them, great! We'll hear from you on the NEXT post.
As always, can't wait to hear what you have to share.