We talk a lot about children and peer pressure, but what about peer pressure from other parents? Parents are constantly barraged with advice on what good parenting looks like, from unsolicited advice during pregnancy and while raising their children. This steady stream of parenting tips comes from social media, expert opinions, and even each other. We're often inundated with value judgments. For example, take a casual approach to homework, and you're a slacker parent. Expect a lot academically, and you're a "tiger mom."
Dealing with Parenting Peer Pressure
So how do we sort through the noise and hype to figure out what's the best advice for our family? First, turn the volume down. Surround yourself with friends that build your confidence as a parent. Seek out books and articles that align with your personal values and feel supportive and uplifting. Avoid judging other parents. Below are a few more tried and true tricks for dealing with parent peer pressure:
- Think about what is most important to you as a parent. What do you value? What do you want your children to learn? How do you want your home to feel? Try to distill these thoughts into two or three sentences that are easy to remember, such as, "Our family values close family relationships, continually growing and learning, and serving others." Use this family mission statement as a yardstick for choosing activities. Are you spending your time in ways that will further your goals as a family? Knowing what you hope to achieve keeps you focused so you’re not derailed by every trend or new activity.
- Take a realistic look at your schedule and budget. This is a tough one because as parents, we want to give our children everything. Remember, though, that your role as parent is to nurture and guide your child to become a happy, responsible adult, not to indulge her every whim. So the trend in your neighborhood is elaborate, catered birthday parties and every six-year-old on the block has a cell phone. You can choose to follow the trend – or not. Base your decisions on what is sensible and logical for your family.
- Trust your parental instincts and know your children well. Parents have widely differing views on everything from appropriate media to sleepovers to after school activities. What might be right for one family might not be right for another, and as a parent, you get to choose. You are the expert on your own child and your own family’s needs. It's okay to say no to something that seems unsafe or unwise to you, even if that choice makes you temporarily unpopular with other parents or your child.
Our parenting values, skills, and aptitudes are influenced by many factors, including our own childhood experiences, our personalities, our children's needs, and our available resources. There is no one right way to parent. How to respond to unsolicited parenting advice: "Thanks for your point of view, but this works for our family."
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