Pressure, Politeness And Finance

Katie Young
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Wednesday - September 26, 2007

I have some questions on my mind: Are you susceptible to adult peer pressure?

Peer pressure arises from an individual’s need to have the approval and acceptance of his or her equals. It is a behavioral pattern that begins in childhood and is most often spoken of during an individual’s adolescence.

This is when we are most concerned with the effects of peer pressure - teenagers who are struggling to declare independence from their parents, who are striving to win the acceptance and support of friends and classmates, can easily succumb to a group dynamic that might not always be positive. Teenagers are, in fact, struggling to belong - to become part of a group that will help provide security and an emerging sense of identity.

But I believe this quest for peer approval is not limited to the adolescent years. Everybody, no matter how old, faces the pressure to “fit in.”

I suppose we worry more about children and teens dealing with peer pressure because they are still trying to find their own sense of self. But once an individual has reached adulthood, a clear identity and sense of self is supposed to be strongly established within us, right? No matter what, as an adult, we have the freedom to make our own individual choices.

But I’ve noticed lately, a lot of adults who are stuck in the “peer pressure” trap - those who go along to get along - adults who feel compelled to exhibit atypical behaviors because they are trying to fit in with a group, whether socially or professionally.

Do your co-workers all bond with pau hana outings to the local bar and you feel like you have to make an appearance to be social, even though you’d rather just work out and go home? You go because you want to be a part of the water cooler conversation the next day where everyone is laughing about the great time they had the previous night, not because you really want to be out drinking.

Or do your friends pressure you to fit in with the crowd by continuing to party to the wee hours of the morning, even though you have a wife and child at home? You know you should probably be responsible, just say no, leave early - but there’s that old party animal in you that just needs a little prodding from the guys to stay longer.

Or maybe you feel pressure as a parent to do certain things just because all the other parents are doing it too? Sam’s mom lets him go to concerts and stay out past 10 p.m. even though it’s a school night, so maybe you should too?

These particular situations may not pertain to you, but adult peer pressure can often appear in subtler ways. Just as adolescent peer pressure can have negative effects, so can the adult version. It can create stress in your life, stress in your relationships and needless aggravation at work.

We all want to fit in, but at what price? Don’t think just because you’re an adult you’ve got it all under control and don’t have to watch out for peer pressure!

When did we stop asking nicely for things?

I really wonder when we decided that it was OK to be rude and not say “please” and “thank you” when asking for something. Many of us do it to our loved ones on a daily basis, and I’ve also seen it done to strangers in the grocery store checkout.

Our hectic lives seem to have caused some of us to cut corners when it comes to common courtesies. You might think they are unnecessary formalities, but demands may one day fall on deaf ears if we can’t even muster a pleasant phrase when asking for things we want.

We teach our children that being polite is a virtue, don’t we? Maybe there are a few adults who need a refresher course in how little words like “please” and “thank you” really can go a long way toward making someone feel appreciated and valued. And how could that ever be a bad thing?

Why don’t we teach personal finance in high school?

I really wish someone had taught me something about personal finance while I was still in high school. Many friends of mine share the same sentiment. We were so focused on getting into a good college and finding a future career that some of us ended up away from home with no idea of how to even use a credit card, much less what an “interest rate” really meant for our cash flow.

I might have even chosen a different career if I had known what kinds of financial responsibilities I would have as an adult.

Finances affect our lives in so many significant ways - from day-to-day choices to being able to purchase a house to saving for retirement. Why aren’t we teaching kids at a young age about the value of a dollar and the importance of managing their money?

Don’t wait to see if kids will figure it out by themselves. This is important knowledge that can change lives and open opportunities. If handled intelligently, good money sense at a young age is the foundation for a stress-free future.

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