When I think of how I have been pressured to conform throughout my life the first thing that comes to mind is peer pressure. I have known peer pressure, but, upon further reflection, I realize that for many years, I was fairly sheltered from negative peer pressure. There have been Ana groups that have consistently put more pressure on me to conform than my peers ever did. Have had more pressure to conform though out my life from my family and school administrators in various ways and for various reasons than from my friends or peers.
The main group that put pressure on me to conform while I was growing up was my family, especially my parents. Most people would call it parental rules, but it really is directives from them to their children to conform to what the parents decide. My parents enforced their rules to conform to their desired behaviors by a punishment and reward system. Even as a young child, my parents wanted me to conform to their ideas of how should act or not act. They would promise my siblings and me a reward if we behaved or conformed in the way we knew they wanted.
For example, we would get Dairy Queen ice cream on the way home from an event if we had behaved or conformed to their standards at the event. Most of time, it was an all-children or no-children reward, but there were times when some of us got ice cream and others did not. In that case, when others got the reward and I did not, it was punishment for not conforming and to make me conform the next time there was a similar situation. Nina situation where all the children or none of the children get the reward, it put some of the children in the role of reassuring the others to conform or behave as the parents willed so all could get the reward.
The adults at my school are a close second behind my family on the list of groups that pressured me to conform when was growing up. Because I went to a church-school, think my school’s teachers and administrators had more leeway to put pressure on me to conform to their rules and ideas than in a public school. My school had strict standards we were required to conform to, such as a required uniform. They would claim that some of the rules were for the safety of students and teachers, but khaki ants and blue shirts with collars had nothing to do with safety.
It was just the uniform that the church members had decided they wanted for the students, and we were expected to conform. It was not that they had anything against jeans and other colored shirts because in high school, we sometimes had Fun-Fund Raising Fridays when for a donation, we could wear jeans and a t-shirt. We were all required to take at least one Bible class each semester and attend chapel twice per week. There were other things that this school because it was private could require us to conform to that a public school could not.
It was because we had a choice to go there or not. When my parents chose for us to go there, they agreed that the church who sponsored the school could require us to conform to the way they wanted us to dress and act in and out of school. If we did not, they could kick us out of their school. For example, Giorgio, a student who went to school with, got in trouble with the juvenile office; he got kicked out of school. It did not have to be something illegal to get a student kicked out.
In high school, dating was scourged, but if they knew a student was dating another student in the school they watched the couple closely. If a couple was caught acting inappropriately as a couple, they could get kicked out, depending on what they did. Seeing other students get punished for breaking the rules put even more pressure on me not to do the same. From the group that most people think of that puts pressure to conform on children and teens, friends and peers, I got relatively little negative pressure to conform until I hit age sixteen.
Many people would think this would be at he top of the list of important groups that put pressure on teens as they were growing up, but for me it is far below the other two. My two main peers groups while growing up Were from my small Christian school and my church youth group. Because of this, my parents actually could keep an eye on and somewhat control the influence my peers had on me, especially when I was younger. At age sixteen when got a car and started to date, they lost some of their influence. My peer group started to change for the bad and that peer group put pressure on me to conform to their looks, actions, and ideas.
In school, the rules to conform, somewhat limited the peer pressure, because the school rules controlled the clothes, the action and even the way to think or at least what idea to express. Peer pressure in my church youth group was also somewhat limited, but not in the same way as school. There were a lot of kids in there that I would call good kids. They were kids that had a real moral compass. The good kids in the group actually used peer pressure to positively affect the others in the group. For example, many of us followed their lead and signed purity cards.
The pressure to act and dress appropriately came by way of positive peer pressure from my peers in youth group. Negative peer pressure came from outside of school and church from peers that were mostly friends of friends. Again, negative peer pressure was somewhat limited until I turned sixteen and met Amber. She introduced me to all her friends. She was not a good influence and many of her friends were not either. Amber was my girlfriend when I was sixteen. She put pressure on me to do things, would have never done without her negative peer pressure.
Embers family did not go to church. Amber dressed and acted in ways that my parents would never allow from my sisters. My parents did not like Amber and she did not respect them so my relationship with her and her negative influence on me caused big conflicts between me and my parents. Eventually, I wised up and started paying attention to the people that had always had a positive influence on me, my parents, and eventually resisted her negative pressure and broke up with her. Some would say I led a sheltered life when was a child and maybe I did. Old rather be sheltered when was young and learn lessons of how to combat negative peer pressure as I matured rather than be bombarded with it in early childhood. Could not have handled negative peer pressure with much wisdom when I was six or ten, or even fourteen. I was better able to handle peer pressure at sixteen because had a supportive family and had been eased into the world with its negative peer pressure. Also, for years I had positive pressure to conform so that when I was hit with negative peer pressure, I was able to recognize it and eventually make good decisions to get away from it.