Op 15: Acceptance

As soon as children begin sharing the coveted red crayon from their box, parents begin to warn against peer pressure. They start by telling children to avoid being pressured into being mean, and as the children age, the parents warn them against being pressured to do drugs, have sex, and make bad fashion choices. When a kid complains that all of their friend are wearing pants that say juicy on their bottom, the parents reply, “Well if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” The parents’ words would have merit if weren’t for the fact that all adults also succumb to peer pressure.

Alcohol is a controversial substance which births good times and children. Many religious group such as Muslims, Mormons, and conservative Christians oppose it. They believe that alcohol causes too many tragedies, and that god does not approve of the recreational use of this substance. However, despite being against alcohol, many of these groups do not believe it should be illegal. When the children in these group ask the adults why it’s okay for others in their country to drink alcohol, the adults inform them that each person should have the freedom to live their lives they way they want. However, if the adults who belong to these groups want to live their life the way they want and drink alcohol occasionally, they will be reminded of drunk drivers, addicts, and hell; they will also be asked what type of role models they want to be for their children.

The people who drink socially are just as guilty of judgment as their sober counterparts. The adults who drink margaritas at weddings and unwind on the weekend with a cold beer, have difficulty understanding why someone would choose not to relax in a similar fashion. They might speak with admiration about groups of people who abstain from alcohol for religious reasons  while they sip their chardonnay, but if the friend or relative they are telling this to refuses to drink with them, they will pressure them with mocking and teasing until they agree to have wine poured into their glass. Although this teasing is done in jest, a person who declines alcohol on several occasions will soon find themselves not being invited to social gatherings. It seems groups have a choice when it comes to drinking alcohol, but individuals do not.

People are not only pressured to partake or abstain from mind altering substances, but they are also pressured on the way they educate their children. Parents who send their kids to public school often condemn those who home school. They accuse home schooled kids of suffering not only academically but also socially. However, despite the fact that they think public school is superior to kids being taught by their parents, they will concede that each parent has the right to raise their child the way they want. That is as long as that parent is not their friend or relative. Friends and relatives who choose to home school should be ostracized.

Parents who choose to home school their kids not only enjoy thinking that their kids are academically and socially superior to their peers, but that the parents who send their kids to public school are selfish and lazy. After all, these parents think that since it is so obvious that homeschooling is more effective than regular school, a parent who does not want to devote their life to teaching their kids should have abstained from having children. However, home schooling parents do not want all public schools to shut down because they still concede that many parents have financial obligations that prevent them from home schooling. They will be superficially polite and kind to parents who send their kids to public schools, but they will refuse to socialize with these parents, or allow their home schooled angels to play with their public schooled peers. It seems that when it comes to schooling ones kids, just like with alcohol, the freedom of choice is only given to groups but not individuals.

Parents teach their kids about the evils of peer pressure, but what they really mean is that their kids should avoid being pressured into behaviors the parents feel are unsuitable. If a child complains that their friends are pressuring them to make A’s and do their homework, a parent will gladly encourage their child to succumb to peer pressure. While good and bad peer pressure tends to be black and white when you’re a child (stealing is bad, getting exercise is good), when a person becomes an adult, good and bad pressure definitions become gray (democrats are bad, democrats are good). Our society says it admires individuality, but what it really means is that individuality is only admired in groups of a 100 people or more. Have you ever felt peer pressured to act a certain way?

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