“It’s okay, my Mom always lets me do it,” he says.
“Yeah. I mean, nobody knows us. Nobody really cares,” he says with superior knowledge and experience.
This visiting child has totally invaded upon your household. It doesn’t matter to our story if your child is seven or seventeen. It does not matter if your child is male or female. It does matter what happens next. If what the visiting child is suggesting should be engaged in is not to your child’s values or family expectations, what does your child do?
Here’s where actual FAMILY PLANNING comes in. (No,THAT family planning.) Just like families have practiced escape routes in case of a fire, families, your family will have a PLAN for when your child needs to keep his or her cool, but resist negative peer pressure.
Here’s how it works:
As soon as your child is old enough (starting at about six years of age) you will tell your child about once a year, until middle school, then make it twice a year; junior high as often as needed, but at least three times a year through high school the following:
If and when someone wants you to do something that you know is not right to do; or will put someone at risk–especially YOU–you are to use me [select the parent most appropriate] as the meanest person on earth. I don’t care what they think of me, but say whatever you need to say to NOT do whatever is causing you second thoughts or you know is just plain wrong. Then CALL me. I’ll come get you with NO QUESTIONS ASKED. I will be pleased that you took care of yourself! And then, let me know what you said, so that I can back you up. Do you understand?”
At first, your child will be somewhat surprised that you are saying you don’t care if he or she says “bad” things about you. This is why you PRACTICE what your child might use in this type of situation.
“Man, you don’t know my Dad. If he ever found out I did this, I’d be dead meat in the morning. It’s not worth it. I’m not doing it. Go for it, but I’m not doing it. Not with my old man.”
Then leave. Almost all kids know what’s like to live with angry parents. They may make a few comments about your child’s bravery, but most likely they will shake their heads and feel sorry for him.
I’ve noticed that most of the need for FAMILY PLANNING for “how to get out of a tight spot with peers” is needed during summer and other vacation times. So take a moment and prepare your child for negative peer pressure.
And yes, my own children have had occasion to use the above PLAN, and it kept them from having to run a gauntlet of negative peer pressure or enduring negative fall out once the incident had occurred. And, I didn’t ask questions, but then I didn’t have to. They needed to talk and I wanted to listen.
It doesn’t take too much to test your child’s “character.” Please let your child know that you understand and will “arm” him or her with conflict resolution practices or escape routes. The above is an ESCAPE ROUTE for when common sense discussion won’t prevent poor peer behaviors.