What is peer pressure and what can we do to help our children?

Parenting in modern age, explained

By Kavita Srinivasan

Published: Thu 8 Dec 2022, 5:03 PM

We are human beings. We need community. At the root of every problem is loneliness. And when we feel this, we will do anything to have someone, anyone in our corner. Even if the hand that holds you cuts you open, you will wrap your hands around the blade; the physical pain is better than experiencing even a minute of heart-wrenching isolation.

When we feel like we need belonging in anyone or anything outside of our own bodies, we are in the throes of suffering. We will slice away parts of ourselves to feel like someone likes us, to know that we have a family; anyone, anything, to surround us.

What I have described above is what we and our children feel when we succumb to peer pressure.

If a child is influenced by a friend, then there is space in their heads and hearts that is not being filled by the only people they really need: their parents.

Filling our children’s hearts does not take endless stretches of time. It takes presence. Safety, belonging, stability... these are the words. These are the feelings. It takes nothing and then it takes everything. When you don’t want to be anywhere but next to your child, staring into his/her eyes and truly, in the crevices of your heart, not wanting to leave, they feel loved. This could last a few minutes, it could stretch into days and weeks… or it could be over before it started. There are no words or instances to truly describe it. It is everywhere and then nowhere really. It is in the energy that you carry within your body and within yourself.

Are you happy to be with you?

What does it feel like to live in your body?

Are you embracing pain? Joy?

Or are you lonely? Reaching out to people, places and things that lie beyond you? Are you suspended in the in-between, blind to who you are?

If we reach out to others, so do our children. When we go within to sit with those places that are screaming to be heard, no matter how horrible they are, we create the magic of belonging, of safety, of unconditional love.

I have been in those places. When walking into my home felt empty. The corridors were bereft of warmth, my mother’s eyes blank, coloured with pain that blinded her to my needs. She held me in her arms but those eyes spoke a different story.

And so I looked at others to feel some love, some belonging. I would be anything they wanted me to be. I wanted to be a part of their homes because I did not have one.

When it comes to peer pressure, remember only this: you have absolute say in who your child listens to. Be the person they want to be with, give them a sturdy ground to walk on and most of all, just be there. With clear eyes unclouded by pain. You will have soothed yourself first so you can be there, whole, regulated and full of love. The kind of love that will make your child want to be nowhere but right there, in your arms, in your lap, and with you.


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