Peer-pressure. I grew up not giving a damn about it and I don’t know if that is any bad… In fact, I am convinced it is kinda good.
I remember how I was one of the few who didn’t have a Barbie doll. I was sad and even angry at my mother. But I knew that at the particular moment we could not afford this toy. I had a Cindy. A cheap version. Completely not the same as a fancy Barbie, but served the same purpose. What I learned was
to be grateful for what I have despite the pressure from the outside telling me, that what I have is not good enough. I actually grew to sincerely love my Cindy and played with it even when I finally got a Barbie.
I remember being the only one wearing a jacket at the celebration of the beginning of the school year. Other girls were wearing something way less official and much more childish. I felt awkward, I felt as being a white crow, a black sheep or whatever the idiom goes. What I learned was to walk tall irrespective of how I look. And whatever I looked, I still was me: funny, social, reliable, witty – that anyway made me stand out much more than the jacket.
I also remember challenging a teacher when I strongly disagreed with her opinion and all the rest of the class either agreed with her or didn’t dare to oppose… There are many examples actually: some serious, others silly. But the point is – I am generally not afraid to stand out.
What I wonder however: am I just that type of a person or not having a Barbie at the age of eight has something to do with it? In other words, is it inherent or learned? And if it is indeed learned, how can we teach that also to our kids?
I ask myself if by making sure that our kids have everything everyone else has (not talking necessities here) we are denying them an opportunity to learn to stand out and be grateful for what they have?
Maybe by being the only one in jeans while everyone else is wearing sweatpants, a kid is learning to stand out and not to succumb to peer-pressure? Maybe by not going to see a movie with everyone, but by going to a theatre instead, a kid is learning that there is… just another way? Not better or worse, just another. Maybe by temporarily feeling deprived or sad, a kid is learning to better deal with her emotions?… (of course, the last one is a matter of a separate attention, yet still – to be able to deal with something, you first need to face it, right?)
I don’t have the answer of what’s the best. The thing I know for myself is that peer-pressure as such undoubtedly has a negative connotation in my perception. And phrases like “everyone does that!” or “everyone has that!” – don’t mean anything to me.
The challenge is: how do you best teach that to your kids?…
Any ideas? I would love if you share them in the comment section below or by dropping me a line.