Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Superwoman VS Peer Pressure

When I was growing up "peer pressure" might as well have been the Plague! It seemed that everyone was warning kids about the dangers of peer pressure, giving in to friends and society and everything else that might influence us to do "bad things". What I didn't realize then is that peer pressure doesn't go away as you get older, it just changes a little.

Kids are likely to feel pressured to drink, try drugs, have sex, or simply wear certain styles or tease other kids. Adults never have those temptations. Right? We cross some kind of magical threshold and are suddenly free of the burdens of trying to fit in. We no longer care about how we look or what others think of us. What a wonderful Utopian life adulthood must be....NOT!!!

Peer pressure is sometimes more subtle for adults. That can make it more dangerous. I remember being able to hide behind the law when my friends teased me about not drinking in high school. They didn't argue with "It is against the law, you know." When I was 21, I ended up in First Class on a flight back to college. The flight attendant offered me alcoholic drinks many times. She couldn't understand why I would refuse. "But they're free." she kept saying, as if that were the only reason I wouldn't want them.

That was the first time I had to really stand up to someone when it came to drinking. I thought "okay, I passed the test, now it will get easier. But that wasn't my only test. During deployments, military wives often turn to alcohol to escape their pain for a while. I was asked more than once how I could make it through without drinking. Living in European countries where drinking alcohol is like drinking water, I again had to explain that no, I wasn't interested in sampling the local beer, even if it was free.

Other kinds of peer pressures plague adults. How much money do you make? What things do you have? Where have you been on vacation? How smart or talented are your children? What sacrifices do you make for them? These are just a few points that have come up in my adult life. There is nothing wrong with them either, depending on how you look at them.

One problem we have as adults is trying to impose our life lessons and beliefs on each other. I can remember one mother being shocked that I didn't usually let my kids play in the bathtub. I saw baths as messy and time consuming so I gave them a "navy style" washing (wet, wash, rinse, dry). She lectured me on the importance of water play and how much our family was missing out on by not letting them have an actual bath.

Other parents have reacted equally appalled by our differences in reading time, bed time, diet, toys, clothing, hair care, cleaning products, well, pretty much everything!  I am not talking about offering opinions or advice, I have had a few people get really passionate about things! We can all find fault, or at least differences, if we are looking for them. The real question is should we be looking?

Several months ago, I attended a Relief Society lesson about Provident Living. As the class discussed various aspects of this frugal lifestyle, we started talking about coveting. I had always thought of this as a synonym for envy or jealousy. As we discussed the meaning of "coveting" I realized that it didn't necessarily mean wanting your neighbors horse. It might mean wanting one just like it. Maybe you don't want her kids, you want yours to be smarter of better behaved...like hers. Maybe you wish your house was like hers or you had a TV or computer or car like hers. Maybe you wish you had her body or hair color or fashion sense.

There is nothing wrong with having role models, even as adults. Watching and learning from the examples of others can make us try harder to become better people. The problem comes from overdoing it. Focusing on what others have instead of our own blessings makes us bitter and ungrateful. And we don't always know what opposition they my have in their lives. We are all sent here with a unique test to take. Copying doesn't do us any good.  The problems are different for each of us. Whether we pass or fail is ultimatly up to us.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of this quote... "Don't spoil the pleasure of what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you have now was once something among the things you only hoped for." -Epicurious

Emily said...

Very inspiring. The previous comment is also quite inspiring. :)