Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thoughts on Teens and Behavior and Peer Pressure Study

A friend sent this article from The New York Times to me which discusses a study about teens, behavior and peer pressure using brain scans to help figure out what is going on. They measured teens against college students against adults.

"Why do otherwise good kids seem to make bad decisions when they are with their friends? New research on risk taking and the teenage brain offers some answers."

"In the study, there were no meaningful differences in risk taking among boys and girls. However, some real-world driving data suggests that teenage boys take more risks behind the wheel when one or more boys are in the car, but drive more carefully if they are with a girlfriend."

"For parents, the study data reinforce the notion that groups of teenagers need close supervision."

“All of us who have very good kids know they’ve done really dumb things when they’ve been with their friends,” Dr. Steinberg said. “The lesson is that if you have a kid whom you think of as very mature and able to exercise good judgment, based on your observations when he or she is alone or with you, that doesn’t necessarily generalize to how he or she will behave in a group of friends without adults around. Parents should be aware of that.”


The findings of this study should be known to the parents who find themselves saying, "I know my child, and my child would never do (fill in the blank)".

I have been with kids and teens and seen them doing things that their parents later tell me "my child would never do that" when I saw it with my own eyes. Never say never.

Once a friend who I had a pact with to share these issues refused to believe what I saw happen. She was sitting right next to me when the thing happened but was looking away from and she just would not believe me. We exchanged a few words when her child protested and said what I said happened was not true. Her child wanted his way and to get it the child had to lie about what took place. She chose to believe her child. After that we didn't speak for about a month (she seemed to avoid me) but later we were friends but never spoke of the matter again. That was years ago but that really surprised me as we'd had an arrangement to share with each other whatever was going on and said we'd believe each other over whatever claims the kids made. Looking back that issue was small beans compared to the stuff that is happening with kids aged 10 and up now.

Most parents of my generation seem to be different than my parent's generation. When I was a kid it seemed all the adults were a united front against the kids. An adult would believe an adult when it was reported that something happened such as a kid threw a rock through a window for fun and got caught, or the time my brother was caught throwing snowballs with ice chunks from behind a tree at cars driving down the road and the driver came after him and demanded to be brought to my mother to report the incident. My brother was punished. My mother did not say, "Not my child, it must have been one of the other boys who did that".

The parents today seem to want to believe their kids are angels and when they hear of some problem their kid did they deny that it could be true. Perhaps the worst situation is when the child is at risk at having their soul damaged or at risk of physical injury and the parent won't believe that it is happening so the child remains at risk (and may also be doing things that endanger other kids).

Besides having rules for what happens in the family's own home I feel that parents should try to make sure their kids are safe when they are away from us. By that I mean, do we trust the leadership of the Boy Scout Troop when they are away on camping trips and who is chaperoning and what is happening on that evangelical Christian youth group indoor sleepover weekend and what about that sleepover at a friend's house?

I could go on and on and I'd love to share true stories to illustrate my concerns but I risk getting people angry with me, so I'll just stop there.

Well I'll just say that past rants I've blogged after hearing stories on the Dr. Phil show or after reading pieces in the newspaper or in magazines are not exaggerated, the same stuff is happening right here and right now with kids I know.

I only ask that all parents open their eyes and try to not put their heads into the sand. Open your eyes, open your ears, watch and listen to what is going on....and remember parenting is a verb. Parenting is usually never easy, it can be really hard sometimes, but just remember you are the adult and you bear the responsibility, so, do the right thing.

1 comment:

Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

I actually lost a really good friend and a whole social circle that she influenced, because she was not open to hearing concerns I had about her children's behavior. My son is usually "not one of those kids" but this one friend really does bring out the worst in him.

Years later my son has managed to still friends with this boy, despite my being estranged from his mom, and I feel even more concern about the friendship than I did before. He is old enough now to be spending much of his social time outside my presence, and I worry about the stupid things this friend will have him try.

My son and I discuss this frequently. We've talked about some of the dumb things he's done with this friend that he would never do otherwise, and I've begged him to be aware of getting sucked into this boy's sense of adventure without using his own head.

At some point, we have to let them go and hope that our best is enough...