We all do things differently as parents, and I am a firm believer that a one size fits all approach doesn’t work. We are all different, and we have different views. It’s what makes the world interesting. But I think there is sometimes a degree of parenting peer pressure involved in our decisions.

parenting peer pressure.  Image of balloons drifting into a blue sky symbolic of letting go

We need rules

Households always have their own rules. Are you a shoes off household? Do the kids have set bedtimes? Do you sit down at the table together for dinner? All those little things that are part of your day to day family life, that become family customs.

One such rule we had in our house was that the kids were not allowed to have a tablet until they were 8. It’s not a judgement on anyone whose kids had them younger, it was just something we decided for a number of reasons that suited us. Big got his tablet when he was 8, and Little who is currently 6 knows that he can have one when he is 8. It’s not caused any drama and we are happy with our decision. But I was aware that we were among a minority in this decision.

When is the right time to say yes?

At 10 Big saved up and used his birthday money to buy an X box. We felt this was the right age for him. A lot of his friends already had them. His eleventh birthday is in a few weeks, and now he is in his final year of primary school he seems to be growing up before my eyes.

Suddenly his demands aren’t for chocolate or Ninjago figures. The things he wants are more complex decisions.

Can I watch this 12 movie?

When Can I walk to school on my own?

I need a phone.

When can I stay home whilst you pop to the shops?

Can I play this 12 video game?

How old do I need to be before I can get a front door key?

My friends use TikTok, Why can’t I?

Can I make YouTube videos?

Making tough decisions

The older he gets the more impact other parents decisions have on ours. As his age increases so does his ability to argue a decision. Sometimes his case is compelling. A lot of time it is based on “But (insert 10 random names here) are allowed to.”

As a parent you have your own instinct for when the right time for these things is for your child. It’s natural that some kids mature sooner then others. It’s also natural that as parents our views differ. Sometimes we can be relaxed about things and encourage their independence. Sometimes we can feel nervous and not ready, and even if our child is, it can be us that says ‘not yet’. And there is no right or wrong answer here.

Giving in to parenting peer pressure

There will invariably be something that you end up giving into before you are ready, mainly because of parenting peer pressure. Whether it’s a video game your child wants to play, or walking to school by themselves, or getting a phone, there will be something that you say yes to because everyone else does. And you say yes because you don’t want your child to be the only one who does’t have something, or isn’t allowed to do something, despite your own views on the subject.

For us it’s the phone. I don’t want him to have a phone until he goes to secondary school. Again, this is my personal view and no judgement on kids who have phones younger then this. Partly it’s because I don’t want his head stuck in a phone all day, so it feels like more rules to enforce. Also the sheer stubbornness of the fact that I never had one until I was 18 and I was fine. And yes, I know that makes me sound ancient! And a lot like my parents, “in my day…”

But we have reached a stage where all of his friends have phones and he feels like he is missing out. I’m running out of reasons to say no other than, “because I said so!”.

At least we have one Christmas present sorted!

Have you given in to parenting peer pressure on anything yet? Let me know in the comments.

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Claire Kirby

2 Comments on Parenting Peer Pressure

  1. I am in the same situation with Isabella. In her words “I’m the only one in my year without a phone”. There are children that have had them for years, no judgement, but as you’ve said above, their decisions make Gary and I “the bad parents”. We decided the phone would come when she starts senior school, possibly the summer hols so she has time to get use to it.
    Isabella asked for Tik Tok during Lockdown. I set up a joint account on my phone and she only goes on it with me next her.
    I have an Instagram account, some of her friends have accounts so we are friends and they sometimes talk on that.
    It is so hard. As you say, it is so hard. I have several times thought just get her a phone, so far, we haven’t given in! Yet!

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