Tag Archives: peer pressure

Large Family Stuggles — or Benefits?

mfgroupDuring the Easter holiday season, we took off some extra days for spring break and headed to Florida to visit with family. This week, my children have spent time with cousins ages 6 months to 26 years, and for the most part, they’ve had a lot of fun together. Interacting with so many people, though, means there will likely be some problems. Even within the immediate family, personalities are so different that they’re bound to clash sometime; multiply that number by four or five, and there will be more than a few arguments.  Small disputes and bickering are likely to occur, especially when so much time is spent together.

But if you have a large family, you know that’s actually one of the benefits of having so many relatives. Within the safety and comfort of the extended family, my children can learn to relate to all kinds of people, ones they get along with as well as ones that don’t share their same views. They learn how to be kind and include someone in a game even if they don’t want to, and they can come to adults they know well for help if difficult situations arise.

Interestingly, this time there was even peer pressure at work among the teenage/pre-teen cousins. When my daughter Cassie was looking for something to do, she asked her cousin if she had any ideas. “No,” the cousin replied. “I just do what the others want to do so they’ll include me.” Cassie , who at 11 years old falls in between the “older” and “younger” groups of cousins, was very surprised, but it was a good lesson. Even among family, someone can feel pressured to fit in.

So while this week has been a nice break, it’s been a time of learning as well. Time for my kids to relate to others  a little better, and a time for me to sharpen my parenting skills. And as the extended family continues to grow and change, I know we’ll grow and change as well.

Difficult Situations

159472497_b6835aa840When my children returned from camp this year, they told me about the fun things they did and the good food they ate. They also told me about other children there who weren’t easy to get along with — they didn’t play the games fairly, they teased them, and sometimes they took their things.

These issues, which were minor to their cousins who also attended camp, were major concerns for my children. We began talking about how they responded and what they might do differently if it happened again, which it would, either at camp or somewhere else.

One of the reasons we homeschool is to protect our children from situations that they aren’t yet mature enough to handle. Growing up in the public school system myself, I remember many times people said or did things that were clearly wrong, and I just didn’t know how to respond. There were times things happened and I never told my parents, so they weren’t aware of what was going on. I didn’t want it to be that way for my kids.

But here we are at a crossroads — the fine line between over-protection and learning a life skill. At what age should a child be made to deal with a difficult situation, especially one involving their peers? Part of me is satisfied that they haven’t had to think about it much until now, and part of me feels they could have handled things better at camp had they only known how.

Part of me, too, tells me that every child is different; there’s no magic age for taking a stand, confronting a problem, or struggling through peer pressure. What one child is able to handle might be too difficult for another. But as mom and teacher, I can work to keep the lines of communication with my children open, and we can figure it out together.

Photo by joshuaone6to9

Guitars, Cameras, iPods, and Laptops

w_045aMy oldest son John will be thirteen this summer, and he’s already been telling me for months about the things he “needs.” His sister dropped his digital camera; he needs a new one. The guitar that he plays in church has nylon strings instead of steel ones; it’s too quiet, so he needs a new one. Some of his friends have purchased an iPod touch; he needs one too. Another friend has a used laptop his dad fixed up for him; John enjoys creating images on Photoshop, and a laptop would come in handy. 

I miss the days when a one dollar Hot Wheels car was enough to make him smile. Of course, as he grows older, the “toys” he’ll want will cost more. I just didn’t expect him to want these items so soon. 

I’m still trying to figure out what to do about it. I understand the peer pressure – when his friends have these items and talk about them, he wants to have them too. But I also know these are big ticket items, and though I can find a deal on a guitar or camera for his birthday, we won’t be giving him both. And the iPod and laptop are just going to have to wait. 

He can work and save the money he earns to buy the items, but finding a steady income when you’re twelve can be difficult. Many of his friends receive allowances, something John also earns when we have extra money, but lately we’ve had to cut back on that as finances become tight. 

So what’s a boy to do? Well, he can save up any birthday money he receives. He could do yard work for his grandma or help her wash her car. He can sell some of the toys he’s outgrown at the flea market, a yard sale, or on eBay. 

What else can he do? He can learn to wait. He can understand the value of his time, his energy, and his money. He can find the satisfaction in delayed gratification – in working diligently and, over time, reaching his goal. While these are hard lessons when it seems he’s the only one learning them, they’ll last a lot longer than the latest innovation in technology.

I Shouldn’t Like Worms

My oldest boy and my husband were away all weekend on a scouting trip, leaving me with my two girls and younger son. I was planning on a quiet weekend at home when both my daughters came to me begging.

“Please, Mom, please?” they asked. “Tabitha and Rebecca really want to come over. They can spend the whole day. Please, Mom?”

Not quite what I had planned, but it seemed like a good idea – IF they would include their little brother.

“We will!” they assured me, so I agreed.

The friends came over, and the girls did include Luke in their activities. They worked on the playhouse, took a walk through the woods, and looked for worms. When it was time to take the friends home, they gathered up their things, including a cup with a couple of worms.

Yesterday afternoon, one of my daughters went searching for worms again. After a while she came inside, disappointed.

“Where do you look for worms?” she asked. “I haven’t been able to find any.”

We went outside together and started digging in our little garden area. “I bet if we start weeding this spot, we’ll find some,” I told her. And we did. Tiny ones, big ones, fat ones, skinny ones – she had a new cupful of worms.

I went back inside, and she came in about thirty minutes later. “I dumped out my worms,” she said.

“We just found them,” I replied. “Why’d you dump them out?”

“I shouldn’t like worms. They’re slimy and icky.”

“You can like worms if you want to,” I told her. “There’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Some people have jobs working with worms. Some scientists like to study worms.”

I wondered, though, where she had gotten that idea – not from her friends, because they played with the worms too. Perhaps from something she’d seen in a movie? Perhaps from other acquaintances?

With homeschooling, I try to keep my children from that kind of thinking as long as possible – from believing they have to think a certain way, just because that’s how others see it. But while it was a little sad to me that she wasn’t being true to herself, her comment did open up a great opportunity to talk about peer pressure.

I hope she goes searching for worms again today.