Thursday, February 17, 2011

Peer pressure

Have you noticed that there are some things we were lead to believe end with the end of school (stress dreams about tests or acne, for instance) but don't ever really end?  Peer pressure is one of those things.  While it is not as intense as when we were surrounded by the same group of people everyday for 6 to 7 hours, it is still there.  We are influenced by the people with whom we associate, for good or ill.

I am blessed that I have a group of very good friends who support my choices in life.  Not all of them may agree with everything we have chosen for our family, but never has one said or implied that we are making a mistake.  And because of that level of trust and acceptance, if one were to come to me with a concern, I would listen carefully and take it seriously.

It took a while for me to reach this point, though.  When I first started having children, I had to begin to develop new friendships.  I didn't want or need to let go of the friendships I had from my single, childless years, but I needed to add to my friendships by befriending other mothers once my children began to be born.  And for me, this needed to include other mothers who had chosen to stay home and raise their children.  Those early years can be difficult.  It takes time to find a rhythm for homemaking and child rearing.  Babies and toddlers need you nearly all the time and they are not the best conversationalists.  If a woman is used to being surrounded by adults all day and having duties assigned by someone else, this can be a bit of a shock.

It is at this point where it is so important to surround yourself with friends.  Friends who can support ones new venture into motherhood.  Friends who understand that a fussy baby can push even the most balanced person over edge.  Friends who can rejoice over a baby's accomplishments, which to the world can seem inconsequential, but to a mother they are wondrous.  Friends with whom you can share the joys of motherhood.

What a mother does not need is to have friends who denigrate her choice to raise her children or even question that she had children.  She does not need friends who will world-wearily scoff at her wonder at her child.  She does not need friends who will overtly or tacitly imply that she is less intelligent now that she has a child.  Because we hear these messages from the world all the time in all sorts of guises.  The world does not appreciate children or the career of motherhood.  The stereotypes abound... a woman who does not work outside the home is sloppy and unkempt; she is not as intelligent as women who work; she has no need to accomplish things; she is dead-weight to society.

I've tackled all those before, so I'll spare you this time around.  Suffice it to say, we need to be careful with whom we surround ourselves.  Are these people who are going to support and encourage us or are they going to make us question our choices and what we thought was important?  Look for people to encourage you and also look for ways to be an encouragement to others.  When did you last tell a mother she was doing a good job?

3 comments:

Margaret said...

E-

I so appreciate what you have to say about making sure you are hanging out with positive friends that support you. I was wondering what your thoughts are when it is relatives that are not supportive. We have 6 children (one is heaven with our Lord!). After the third child, my in-laws, who have 5 children, would pull me aside and tell me that we had enough kids. I am pretty sure that they thought I was burdening their son financially with having a lot of children and not helping out by still working outside the home! I had been a Tax CPA before I decided to stay home and raise our children. Luckily, I didn't let them persuade me and what I thought was best for our family. However, it is much easier to surround yourself with like friends.....but how do you deal with relatives that are not supportive (yet think they have the right to keep reminding you that you are not doing things 'their' way!)? Thanks for any ideas you have! Love your blog!!!!

Margaret in Virginia

thecurryseven said...

Margaret --

Good for you for sticking to your guns and staying home to raise your children! It would seem to me, in the face of not overly supportive family members, that it would be even more important to surround yourself with people who do support you.

As to the family members? Well, if it were me, I would install a filter in my head so that I would tune out anything negative. You still need to maintain relationships and sometimes to do that you need to purposefully not hear certain things. (I know this is often easier said than done, that is why you surround yourself with supportive friends... they act as a sort of pressure valve to whom you can release pent-up frustrations.)

The other thing I would do is make an effort to 'love their socks off'. Since you can't control what they do, and can only control your reactions to them, it can feel proactive to decide to react only with patience, kindness, and love. And you never know what will happen in the face of all that active love!

Blessings,
e

Margaret said...

Thanks, E! You have given me some great things to think about. Luckily, I do have wonderful friends that are like family to me! I especially need to work on the patience part - not my strong suit!! I will have a chance to put your wise advice to practice this summer when we go on vacation with them. Many Blessings!

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