In the world of a teenager things are immediate and long lasting. Everyone pressures them to do something seemingly for their own good or to please someone else. Overbearing teachers pressure them to complete assignments in a timely fashion or risk failing the class. Friends may be pressuring the use of drugs, alcohol, or engaging in sexual promiscuity. Then there are the parents who pressure their child to succeed at school, Just Say No, or be abstinent on top of being a productive citizen and family member.
Exploring the world of teen pressure takes more than time and patience on behalf of the parents. Even the most confident of teens is subject to lapses in judgement or taking comments the wrong way. Well meaning people who pinch your daughters cheeks and call her chubby, can contribute to a bout of anorexia or bulimia. These well meaning people tend to forget that a teenagers self esteem is fragile. This is the time of their lives where behaviors that rule or ruin their lives can and will be formed.
During the teen years, peer pressure is a powerful force. There is almost nothing peer pressure can not get your teens opinion or action on. In a place where they feel unloved, insignificant and out of place lurks the dangers parents preach about. Teen girls allow themselves to be convinced that the boy they have fallen hard for, truly loves them. They allow themselves to be pressured into having sex because a boy says "if you really love me..." Teens hold on tight to the friends that are causing them as much angst as home as they perceived before they began hanging out with them in the first place.
One of the best tools a parent has at their disposal of exploring teen pressure is to watch some steamy teen television shows. Watch these shows with your daughters with an open mind. Keep in mind that what an adult perceives and what a teen "sees" is two different things. These shows can open up the lines of communication with your teen boys as well. Talk about what the kids on television are going through. Ask questions about what your teen thinks about the program. This is important; unlike yesterday's Leave it to Beaver, shows such as The Secret Life of Teenagers actually explore what teens are feeling and going through.
Other helpful shows are Pregnant and 16. Shows like this explore the world of teen mothers who were so much in love with their boyfriends and how those relationships change during and after pregnancy. These are great shows to show your teens how pressure can be increased when they make unwise decisions. Do not for one moment believe that not providing birth control or condoms to your teen will discourage them from having sex. If adults can just fall into the moment and become pregnant so can teens. Educating your teen on safer sex practices can save a lot of headache in the long run.
As a parent it is important to remember that your teen does not have the emotional range of a thimble. The problem is they lack the skill to vocalize what they are going through for fear of being yelled at by parents or ostracized by coveted friends. It will be hard to keep an open mind and more important keeping lines of communication open with your teen. To refer to a much detested phrase parents like to use "Been there, done that. Bought the T-shirt" is not the way to approach your teen. If you truly want to explore the world of teen pressure, you need to reach back as far as needed to remember how you felt.