Vidya Bhagwat was horrified when
she caught her teenage son trying to creep into the house in an obviously
inebriated condition at three in the morning. She recounts, "I was shocked
to see my 14-year-old son reeking of alcohol and barely able to stand on his feet. I could see that there was no point talking to him right then,
but I didn't spare him the next day. His excuse was that all his friends
were drinking and he didn't want to be a prude. And then to make things
worse, he actually began to argue saying that it wasn't a 'big deal' anyway
and that he knew I wouldn't understand."
Sumit Roy found a packet of cigarettes in his 16-year-old son's backpack. He says, "I just didn't know how to
react. I confronted Amish and he had the audacity to tell me that I couldn't
say anything to him, as I was a smoker myself. Besides, most of his friends
smoked. He said it was just a 'social thing' and that they just smoked
a few cigarettes at parties. I'm just worried that today it's nicotine,
but tomorrow it could be marijuana or something worse. If I tell him that,
he just tells me to relax. I can see I'm not getting through to him."
These are situations every parent
has to face at some point. If it's not drinking, it's smoking or inappropriate
dressing or late nights or overspending…the list is endless and so are
the arguments. There seems to be no solution as parents and teenagers talk
themselves hoarse trying to explain their respective points of view, their
arguments apparently falling on deaf ears.
Parents, speaking as adults who have
forgotten the angst of their teenage years tend to discount the very real
power of peer pressure. For teenagers, desperately trying to fit in, peer
pressure is something that they find very difficult to withstand. However,
conscientious parents are not going to allow their children to blindly
live by the dictates of their peer group if it's not good for them. This
is the age when children are trying to find themselves and develop their
value systems. At this time, it is their parents and not their peers who
will be their best guides. Unfortunately, they can't see that.
The question is how do parents counteract
the effects of peer pressure? Most of them follow the traditional method
of criticism and condemnation that increases in frequency with every transgression
till it becomes plain nagging. Even as adults we know how effective that
is. It isn't. Your teenager will simply tune you out. They will feel that
you never have anything good to say so why bother listening. This is definitely
not the response you want to get. Here are some tips that should help you
become more adept at counteracting the forces of peer pressure.
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- The Indiaparenting Team