Our teenagers are under so much pressure. There you go, a gem of helpful information wrapped up for you as a parent. Now some of you are going to shake your head and act like these teens have no clue what pressure really is. Some of that is true and some of it is not. If you are thirty years old this year, you were 16 when the first iPhone came out. Facebook would not launch until its app on the iPhone until late 2008 or early 2009. Instagram wouldn’t launch until 2010 and Snapchat in 2011. Your MySpace page did not probably get a lot of likes or traffic. So as teens then you were not under the pressures these teens are today. I am 45 and way back when I was a teen we didn’t even have cell phones, yes I know that’s like ancient history. So as parents, we have to see the pressures our teenagers are under and try to talk to them about those pressures.
- External Pressures
There are so many external pressures our teens face on a daily bases. Parents, teachers, coaches, boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings, bosses, and even pastors apply pressure to these teens every single day. We all as parents have had these same pressures. These pressures are universal and generational. These are the ones that we as parents are used to and equipped to deal with. Shoot, some of us still have some of these pressures today. So we know the standard answers and advice to give. Now I am not saying that healthy external pressure is bad, quite the contrary. Teens need a lot of external pressures. Teens by nature are lazy, sleep a ton, and are not the most over the top go getters. So positive pressure is needed. We all need somebody to push us to be the best we can be. That is what coaches, parents, and teachers do. We push and prod and poke and pressure these teens to move out of their little comfortable bubbles and become successful. We all need that positive pressure in our lives as teens and into adulthood.
2. INTERNAL PRESSURES
Internal pressures are the pressures that our teenagers are under that we as parents may not have much insight into. Social, academic, athletics, relationships, hobbies, financial, extracurricular, and sexual pressures are just some of the internal pressures our teens are up against. Here is where our teens internalize pressures and respond. They have all of the aforementioned pressures. We as parents may not realize those pressures our teens are facing. Some students put a ton of pressure on themselves academically. Of my three kids, my youngest puts the most pressure academically on herself than the others. She just falls apart at the thought of not getting A’s and B”s, while the other two just are not concerned and happy to just pass. Athletically the two oldest kids are deep into baseball and track while the youngest has no athletic ability. The pressures they put on themselves is palpable. They train, diet, study, practice and work hard at their respective sports. Those are positive internal pressures. They want to perform, they want to win and succeed. Your kids have all those same internal pressures. We as parents have to wait. Wait till they succeed and celebrate those victories. We have to wait till they fail to lift them up and help them understand why they lost and encourage them to dig deeper and try harder. That helps their internal pressures become validated and helps them move forward. Your teens, my teens, and us adults all have internal pressures and learning how to mange them is a lesson we all need to learn.
3. PEER PRESSURE
The old standard. The bread and butter. The one we as parents know how to deal with, maybe, and can identify easily. A peer is defined as a person of the same rank or kind. You know, the people around us everyday. As parents we may think of peer pressure we faced in High School or in the adult world we live in. Peer pressure is defined as influence from ones peer group. As a parent you may think you have outgrown this but you have not. We have and always will face peer pressure. We did as kids and teens and we do now as parents and adults. Don’t believe me? Answer these questions:
Do I compare myself to other parents?
Do I compare my life to others around me?
Do I compare my kids to other kids?
Do I second guess my parenting decisions?
Do I try to make sure my kids have all the cool stuff?
If you answered these honestly, you found that you do indeed have peer pressures in your life. Now as we get older, find success, find purpose and mature, we care less about what our peers think. It is a sign of maturity. However, our teens are not mature and do indeed care about their peers opinions. Their peers may not share the same values and morals that your child does and therefore the pressure is different than we as parents may understand. Helping our teens learn that it is ok to be their own individual selfs is hard for them and hard for us. We as parents do not want our kids to be the odd man out. We want them to be accepted but do we want them to be accepted for the sake of just being accepted or do we want them to be accepted for the individual that they are?