Thursday, July 14, 2011

Peer Pressure

Before having kids (but knowing that I wanted a family of my own someday) I imagined what life would be like as a parent.  I dreamt of a simplified life, where all of us counted our treasures in terms of blessings and not by "stuff."  I imagined a harmonious home where we watched little t.v. and had no video games.  A place where board games and books were the activities of choice.  I had myself convinced that this was the life I would create for my children.  Then, a little thing called parental peer pressure crept into our lives.

I first heard of this term from Dr. Ray Guarendi.  I attended a talk given by him when he was in our area. A  parent asked a question about parental peer pressure.  To be honest, I thought it was ridiculous.  Why and how would adults be pressured from their peers in the area of raising children?  Then, I experienced it once my kids began school.  At first it started with my boys coming home and saying things like, "I'm the only one in my class who doesn't have ___________" (i.e. a transformer, a Leapster, a DSI, cable t.v., etc).  Although only some of the kids had these things (not all of them) it was still difficult to see my boys feel like they were somehow left out.  I felt sad that my kids were experiencing peer pressure at their young age.  In conversations I had with some of the parents, they so easily justified their kids having these things that I started to think that maybe it wouldn't be so bad if my kids had these things too.  Now, I don't believe that having toys and video games is bad, but the desire to have more tends to be the problem.  The more we give in to our kids wants, the more they want.  Today the want is a DSI, but it only leads to another want (likely more expensive) tomorrow.

I rant like this because we recently have had a number of conversations with the kids about not being able to afford all they want to do.   They have friends who are involved in multiple summer sports and activities.  Understandably, my kids want to do all of these things as well.  Realistically, Monkey Toes and I simply do not have the resources to allow them to do all they want to do.  It's difficult to have to say no to something like baseball or piano lessons (two things I had the opportunity to do while growing up).  It is difficult to enforce a certain standard when it tends to be counter-cultural.  I know, deep down inside, that my kids are going to grow up being o.k. and certainly not deprived.  However, I still have a little envy of those families who can offer their kids so many different opportunities.  So for now, the lesson I am trying to instill is this;  approach each day with a grateful and thankful heart and always remember the most important things in life we already have - our faith, our family and lots of love.

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