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G I R L S A&A Y O U N GA W O M E N

Peer Pressure
Excerpt from How to Say It To Girls: Communicating with Your Growing Daughter

by Nancy Gruver, founder, New Moon Publishing

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“I’m worried that Liz is hanging out with a group that’s kind of ‘fast’ about drinking and sex. I don’t think she really wants to do these things, but these kids are in the neighborhood and have been her friends since fifth grade. I’m not sure she can resist the peer pressure to do some things she wouldn’t do otherwise. Should I just tell her she can’t go out with them anymore?”-Bernie

Things to Consider
Peer pressure can definitely encourage your daughter to do things she wouldn’t do otherwise—both negative and positive. It does matter who her friends are and what their values, activities, and ambitions are. Most people tend to act like the people they spend a lot of time with. If you’re concerned about what her friends are interested in, it’s important to talk with your daughter about that in a calm, open, nonaccusatory way.

What doesn’t help is making snap judgments or basing your opinion of her friends on how they dress or their family’s status. Those things are superficial, and your criticism might make her feel she has to defend them, even when she doesn’t agree with them. But if you know or suspect that her friends are doing dangerous or illegal things, you’re wise to put firm limits on when and show she spends time with those friends (mainly with adult supervision). She’s still maturing, and her good judgment may be diluted by wanting to fit in with her peers. Don’t blame her for that feeling, but guide her away from the unhealthy behaviors.

What to Say and Do
8-13 YEARS OLD
If she starts to find different values and goals between her and her friends, just listen and ask gentle questions when she talks about it.           

  • It sounds like things are changing between you and Julie. That sounds difficult.
  • You sound worried about Becka’s new friends. You still want to be loyal to Becka, but you don’t like some of the things she does with that other crowd.
  • How do you feel about it?

If she starts showing behavior that concerns you, talk with her about her behavior/responsibility, and don’t blame it on her friends.

Create adult-supervised situations for her to be with peers you may be concerned about

14 AND UP
If you’re concerned about how her friends act, convey your concern for them and their well-being.

  • It seems like Tricia has really changed a lot in the past few months. I get the feeling she might be having sex. I’m concerned about protecting herself with birth control and STD prevention.
  • In tenth grade my oldest friend started drinking a lot and we grew apart. I was really confused and didn’t know what to do. Now I realize I might have helped her by talking with a professional about it

Words and Phrases to Use

  • Behavior
  • Your values
  • Choices
  • Options
  • Caring
  • Concern
  • Safety
  • Loyalty
  • Good friend
  • How do you feel when they do that?

Words Not to Say and Do
Don’t try to turn her against her friends. Don’t say,

  • Those kids are losers. Why do you hang out with them?
  • You have to choose between them and us.

Don’t fault her for being affected by peer pressure. Don’t say,

  • You’re just weak and can’t say no to them.
  • You have no guts
  • Don’t you have a mind of your own?

Words and Phrases to Avoid

  • Forbid
  • Never
  • Bad news
  • No future
  • Jailbait
  • No contact at all

 

©2004 Nancy Gruver.

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