Peer Pressure

an abandoned raincoat

On arriving at school this morning, Ben refused to take his coat in with him.

“I don’t want it,” he says, “it’s not raining.”

“How do you know it won’t rain later on?” asks Dad, with adult logic.

“None of my friends have got coats with them,” he replies, with eight-year old anti-logic.

“Peer pressure isn’t going to keep you dry,” says Mike.

So the coat had a nice walk to school and back, and although the sun is streaming through the window as I type, and although I lathered their faces in factor 50 sun cream, you never know in these rain-soaked weeks how it’s going to turn out.

Peer pressure has been a mixed blessing so far.

Both our children have church-going friends, so they often start up theological debates the like of which I haven’t considered for thirty years.

“Why does God let people die?”
“I don’t believe in him or any other kind of deity, so the question has no meaning for me,” is what I want to reply, ending all religious conversation.

But I don’t say that, I fudge it.
“Well, people who believe in God say heaven is a better place than here on earth. So maybe that’s why God lets people die.”

“What about hell?” is the obvious response, and it’s the one I get.
“Christians believe that hell is a punishment for people who’ve done bad things while they’re alive.”

I’m sure they know that, but knowing it doesn’t stop them from ignoring every request to brush their teeth, to take their plates to the sink and to put their clothes in the laundry basket.

If they’d just copy the better habits of their well trained peers I’d be delighted.
They have friends who are the model of good, God-fearing children, who help with the washing up and are keen to lay the table for tea.

But my kids seem to pick the one repellent feature of every friend and magnify it, ignoring all the many splendid qualities there for the choosing.

It’s the same with us.
They focus on my one use of sarcasm or the single swear word I let slip in extremis, and studiously ignore all the many times I say please, thank you and flush the loo after I’ve used it. Without being reminded.

As it happens, there’s been no rain, so eight-year old anti-logic wins the day.

About Beta Mum

Here you can find the ramblings of a trapeze artist turned journalist who ran away from the circus to join the BBC. Cathy "mine's a Kir Royale" Keir then spent thirteen years working in Jersey, Guernsey and Devon, before downgrading to what you see before you. She has contributed articles to The Guardian, The Stage and Television Today, Junior Magazine and both the BBC and Bad Mothers Club websites. She has two children who think women can’t be prime ministers. She blames herself.
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7 Responses to Peer Pressure

  1. I love that ‘peer pressure won’t keep you dry’ comment. So adult…

    I hope you’re not flushing the loo every time you use it. Eco peer pressure there.

  2. Drunk Mummy says:

    I always use your ‘I don’t believe in God’ comment with my kids.
    Unfortunately, it doesn’t kill the religious conversation stone dead – rather they start weeping that they want me to believe in God so that I can go to Heaven with them rather than the Hell for which I am so obviously destined. I’ve told them I don’t believe in Hell either, but it doesn’t seem to help them.
    Nice to see the schools teaching religion in such a measured way.

  3. Tracey says:

    I do so relate to all the issues you have related above! On religion: I have gradually relinquished all noble thoughts of remaining impartial on the religion thing, and decided that apart from letting them experience some scripture classes at school, I actually had a right to bring my children up in accordance with my (un)beliefs, rather than the default being christianity. Actually, their logic prevailed, and they endured only a few years of Scripture at school each before begging to do non-Scripture.

    I am proud to say they are all now good little atheists like their mother. I only ever had my youngest question the God thing with me, and then the next year at school she got a totally whacko scripture teacher, and begged me to be allowed to do non-scripture. I was so proud of her!

    Like you, however, I have big problems with their bad habits, and where the hell they picked THEM up from. Eldest now calls ‘hypocrite’ on me,though, and on most occasions that call is warranted.

  4. Beta Mum says:

    SAHD – I normally don’t flush EVERY time, but in honour of the lodger I am flushing the downstairs loo every time.

    DM – I just interviewed some applicants for a teaching post, and one who did RE at college said how keen she was to implement the Every Child Matters agenda through RE, as it would help children appreciate different beliefs and accept that other people believe different things.
    No mention of people who don’t believe in anything.

    Tracey – what’s non-scripture? Is it a class?
    I’m sure some of their bad habits are from us, but I am trying to temper some of mine. Not sure if Mike’s doing the same.

  5. “Christians believe that hell is a punishment for people who’ve done bad things while they’re alive.”

    This is incorrect. Christians believe that ALL people have done bad things and that it is God’s grace that saves them from hell. You just have to believe.

    I’m not religious but thought that should be corrected. Statements like “hell is the punishment for people who have done bad things” used to scare the sh*t out of me as a child.

  6. Beta Mum says:

    Caroline – Oh dear. I shall have to resume my practice of replying “I don’t know. Ask your friend’s Mum. She’s a Christian, she’ll know.”
    I don’t want to scare them, although I think it’d take more than the threat of eternal damnation to get Ben to brush his teeth without being nagged into it.

  7. Alasdair says:

    “They have friends who are the model of good, God-fearing children, who help with the washing up and are keen to lay the table for tea.”

    Nah, they don’t exist! Not ones that are like that all the time anyway.

    They are a figment dreamt up by ‘perfect parents’ to make the rest of us feel bad … if they do exist they’ll undoubtedly grow up to be bitter and twisted that all their uncouth peers have achieved so much more and are so much happier than they are.

    If i was a gambler, and I’m not, I’d pu tmoney on your kids and mine turning out better than ‘those’ kids …

    … great blog by the way :)

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