On Sunday I watched The Help with my kids. I had read the book and had already seen the movie but thought it would be a good movie for them to see. Plus with it being MLK weekend I thought it was fitting. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie I suggest both.
I knew it would strike up discussions about kindness, fairness and equality. The subject I didn't expect was that of peer pressure. Both of the kids noticed how all the women would just go along with whatever Hilly said, whether it is right or wrong. Even Skeeter's mother fell into peer pressure, she did what people expected her to do not what she knew in her heart was right.
It got me thinking about adult peer pressure. We are pressured all the time with out even realizing it. We think of peer pressure as our children being pressured into drinking or drugs, but we as adults face this pressure as well. Pressure from our peers, colleagues, other parents and the media. Many times we parent a certain way because that's how our children's friends parent, we allow them to do things because everyone else is, and we expect certain things from our kids because that is what we are suppose to expect. The media throws casual sex, infidelity, drug and alcohol use, and sheer rude, disrespectful behavior at us all the time and we decide it's OK to watch or listen because everyone else is.
My son went to grade school with a little boy who was very sheltered. I judged his mother for her parenting choices. This boy is still not my favorite child however, as time went on and these people were no long a part of my life I began to understand her more. While I still may not agree with all her parenting practices. I realized she had the courage I did not, the courage I wished I had. SHE decided what was best for her son. She didn't allow thing she felt didn't coincide with the values and morals she wanted to instill in her child.
I have been feeling under pressure with my parenting lately. I know sometimes I say yes when I think I should say no. I go when I think we should stay. I feel like we give our kids mixed messages all the time. We talk of waiting for marriage to have sex, while all the shows, movies and songs talk about hooking up and casual sex. Even sex or sex talk between to committed people on a show can be confusing to children and teens. The messages about drugs and drinking are even more blatant. We preach to say no, yet almost every song on the radio mentions getting drunk or high... then having sex with a stranger. The DJs aren't much better, sometimes their subject of choice is so inappropriate I am shocked that they still have a job. And yet most of us still listen, still watch and we hope what we say to our extremely impressionable kids sticks.
We let our sons play video games that are meant for adults, because all the boys are playing them. We hear our daughters sing along to Kesha and we cringe but we justify it by saying all the kids are listening to it. We do nothing because we are afraid of being "that" parent. We are afraid of what other people with think of us, how our children will be treated because they have different rules. We are just as afraid of our peers as our kids are of theirs, sometimes we are afraid of our own children.
Most of us are influenced by the people and things around us as much as our children are. We buy the latest this and need the newest that. We are a nation in debt because we all want what everyone else has. We take other peoples opinions into consideration when it comes to who is good, who is bad, who is right and who is wrong. Often we will let other people's opinions of us form who we are as well. I felt pressure for years to go back to work instead of staying home with my kids. Sometimes I still do, but I am confident enough to ignore it.
It takes courage to ignore all the chattering around us to be who we are and want we want. It takes more courage to listen to your heart and then stick to your gut.
I leave you with a beautiful message from The Help. I found this written on my daughters black board, we should all take this message to heart. Remember no matter what anyone says or thinks...