Slamming our car’s door, my daughter slumped down into the passenger seat. 

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Why did you have to come pick me up, Mom?” she exclaimed. “Mallory got to stay!”

“We’ve been over this before,” I replied, trying to stay calm, but alarmed at my young teen daughter’s rising voice. “You have an orthodontist appointment early tomorrow morning, so you need rest, which you won’t be able to get at a sleepover. Plus, I’ve never even met Katrina’s parents. You know you can’t stay over at someone’s house unless I know their parents. It’s for your own protection.”

“Protection!” My daughter spat out the word like used chewing gum. “You’re not helping me; you’re hurting me! Katrina’s mom told me you must be really weird to have such weird rules. She says she feels sorry for me for having an overprotective mom like you.”

“What?!” I tried to keep my shaking hands steady on the steering wheel. 

“Katrina’s mom said you’re weird,” my daughter screamed, “and Mallory’s mom has said that before, too!”

“Why? Just because I’ve got rules that they don’t have? I don’t understand why they …”

My daughter shot me an icy glare. “I didn’t expect you to understand, Mom. They said you’re out of it, and now I know you are, because you won’t let me spend the night like they said you should.”

Reflecting on my daughter’s words later that night, I couldn’t sleep. It felt like I was in middle school, not her. The sting of the comments the two other moms had made felt like the sting I’d felt from “mean girls” in middle school years ago when I wouldn’t do something they’d wanted me to do. Then it hit me: this was peer pressure! 

Usually, we parents are concerned about the peer pressure that our children face from other kids. But we have to contend with parental peer pressure, too. Sometimes other parents will pressure us to make decisions that aren’t right for our own families. Even when they believe in Christ, like the two moms who pressured me, they can focus so much on their own desires that they lose respect for our points of view and end up sinning against us.

When that happens, we need to stand up for our convictions as we navigate the many issues about which other parents may disagree with us. These statements reveal some common parental peer pressure issues:

  • “Why can’t I have a Facebook page yet? Everyone but me uses social media to connect, and her parents said they didn’t understand why I couldn’t find the party invitation on Facebook!”
  • “But he gets to stay up much later than that, even on school nights! His parents think it’s weird that you make me go to bed by 8 p.m.”
  • “Her parents said they’re sorry I had to miss out on seeing that movie because you wouldn’t let me go when they called to invite me.”
  • “His parents said there’s nothing wrong with missing church occasionally to go to a game on Sundays. They think you’re mean for making me go to church every single week!”
  • “Nobody but us still eats family dinners together on weeknights! Her parents want to know why you can’t be more flexible.”
  • “Their parents let them date (or drive) already, and they think you’re ruining my social life by making me wait longer!”

Here are some ways you can fight parental peer pressure:

Don’t give in to negativity. Adding negative words of your own on top of the other parents’ negative words will only increase the negativity in the situation. Keep Ephesians 4:29 in mind: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ask God to help you remain calm and respond in a positive way.