I know that I went on a bit of a weird trajectory since I started writing the whole Chicken Wings, White Bread and Peer Pressure trilogy (doggone adult ADHD), but as promised, I’ll wind it up now and bring things full circle. Here are a few key words that should help bring you back up to where we left off. (If not,…feel free to check out parts one and two.)
Trunks open and close
Magic trick -Guns appear
I have a new cousin.
Fight or flight
Chris has a new gun….(new in 1929!)
Okay, so what did I personally learn from my experience? Immediately afterwards, the only thing that I thought I had learned was to NEVER go ANYWHERE with my friend’s musket loading, squirrel hunting, dubya dubya two, 22 caliber rifle toting self. Secondly, I learned that stuff is rarely, if ever, like you see on T.V. It’s harder than it looks to just walk away from a bad situation. No matter how quick of wit I was, I found it difficult to just talk my way out of that situation and leave. That night, I knew pretty early on that things were going to be bad, but because of the image that I wanted to keep, I stayed. I was given several instances throughout, where I could have walked away…safely, and with no possibility of leaking vital bodily fluids…but I chose not to. I CHOSE not to. I chose looking cool over being safe. I chose “keeping it real” over “keeping it WHOLE.” It wasn’t like I didn’t KNOW what I needed to do. Heck, everything LOGICAL in me was telling me to run across that field like they were giving away riches and glory on the other side. I was always a pretty smart kid, but then again, how smart do you have to be to know that bullet holes would probably hurt and should be avoided?!?! I just sometimes chose NOT to do the smart thing. At those points, how my peers saw me was more important to me than anything else and I was willing to put myself in harm’s way to look cool.
Now, to bring things full circle.
Often, adults, tend to look at teenagers, and teenage situations through adult eyes. We sometimes forget how decisions that are easy to make now, were so difficult for us back then. And you know what? Peer pressure hasn’t eased up since my days as a teenager. In fact, I think it’s a pretty safe bet to think that it’s gotten even worse and harder to deal with. I didn’t have to contend with the four horsemen of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest breaking the story of my own personal Apocalypse to the masses before I even made it home that night, but kids today do.
On that night back in the eighties, if I would’ve run away in FULL view of everybody, at least I probably wouldn’t have heard too much about it until school on Monday morning. I might have gotten the occasional phone calls at home throughout the weekend, but at least I would’ve had time to conjure up a good story that could have possibly made me look cool before the REAL story hit the streets. Trust me, by the time I darkened them them school doors on Monday morning, I would’ve woven a most glorious tale of getting jumped by a biker gang composed of AK 47 wielding, black belt, gymnast, bodybuilding, MMA fighters. (And I would’ve fought off the first two, btw.)
As powerful as peer pressure is though, it has one glaring weakness: For the most part, we place the pressure on ourselves. A lot of times, there’s no one whispering in our ear for us to do or not do something. We assign certain acceptable behaviors to ourselves and we live by them. In my case, a lot of the time, it was my desire to impress the girls that would lock common sense out of my decision making process.
So, with all of that in mind, how do we help our daughters fight peer pressure?
There is really no simple answer, but one of the most powerful ways is through helping them to develop a high self esteem. A high self esteem will allow your daughters to say “no.” even when the crowd wants a “yes”. It gives them the ability to make up their own minds about what affects them because they can trust themselves to do the right thing. They won’t feel as though they have to “buy” their position with the “in” crowd. In fact, with enough self esteem, they can CREATE the “in” crowd that they envision.
There’s also something to be said about the strength of the father daughter relationship in helping your daughter deal with peer pressure. The closeness between me and my girls helps them to limit some of the strains of peer pressure on them. I try to make sure that they always know that no matter WHAT decisions they make, that I’ll never stop loving them and that I’ll always have their back. A tool that I give them to help is the ability to blame me. They have a standing invitation to use me as the bad guy. They know that in any situation that they feel uncomfortable in, they can say stuff like, “My Daddy would lose his mind if he thought I did something like that….I’m out!” , or “Nah…My Dad doesn’t play when it comes to that kind of stuff…and he’s CRAZY.” They have even called me before just so I could tell them “No!” right in front of their friends and they could say, “See…I told you he’d say no.”
Trust me….they’ve used it.
See ya on Thursday!