What does a parent do when a child insists, “But everyone else is doing it”? Talk about pressure. Remember the days when a parent simply put a foot down and said, “No”? Everything children want these days seems to engender a discussion, and their needs and feelings are of primary concern. Are we creating better, more wholesome adults with our new methods? I’m not sure. To me, many kids and adults seem more disrespectful and discourteous than in times gone by, but this is what contemporary society advocates and insists is correct for our generation.
But I digress and will return to my issue. There is a movie theater and bowling alley where my daughter’s high school class alternates going to on Saturday nights. I have several issues with her going: 1. Both places are in a bad neighborhood. 2. The shows they watch are lewd and inappropriate. 3. The crowd that goes to both places is sketchy; they are often high, drunk, or both.
So, what should I do? Do I forbid Shelly to go? Do I sit down and discuss the pros and cons with her and hope she’ll steer towards a reasonable decision on her own? But what if she doesn’t?
Mr. Everyone Else is indeed a mighty foe. It’s hard to be the odd one out, even for adults, so it makes it that much more challenging for children. Think of the following: everyone in your social milieu dresses in designer clothing, sends their kids to expensive overnight camps, and is in the process of remodeling their homes. Are you able to withstand that type of pressure? If so, I applaud you because it’s intensely difficult to stand out.
Even if you can withstand that type of pressure, imagine a different scenario: You are sitting with a group that is earnestly discussing an agenda, and the majority strongly advocates one view. Are you able to withstand the pressure and express your honest opinion if you disagree?
I recommend talking to Shelly and explaining your reservations. If you honestly feel that her attendance on Saturday nights poses a safety risk either to her physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing, I feel you don’t have a choice but to tell her she can’t go.
However, there is a big difference between an authoritarian “No!” and a loving “No.” And if Shelly feels understood and validated, that can go a long way towards keeping your relationship intact. However, with kids, especially teens, you never know and can’t judge yourself by the results that play out. You can do everything right and she may still stomp off and slam the door to her room. But if you can look in the mirror and feel certain that you handled the situation appropriately, then you’ve done your best; you can’t do more than that.
Can you contact a few of her peers’ parents who are of a similar mindset? If they are also opposed to these outings, maybe you can put your heads together and come up with a Plan B that will appeal to the kids and be more amenable to you. Would they enjoy pizza and viewing a rented movie (that you and the other parents approve)? How about ice cream and an interactive game? Night swimming, anyone?
Raising children has become progressively more challenging. But when you keep the ultimate goal in sight – the emergence of a thoughtful, productive, loving person who will try to make the world a better place – then you’ll step forward with sensitivity, loving compassion and confidence. You offer your child the gift of a parent who cares with a full heart and wants nothing more than to see her succeed in her life’s journey.
Best of luck,