Often we think of peer pressure only pertaining to children and in particular, to teenagers. But I have noticed how much this occurs for mothers. It seems to be natural to compare ourselves to others, feeling like we don’t measure up to some made up yardstick and thus leads to peer pressure that I think we form ourselves. What I mean is this. Say you switch to dresses only because you see a certain mom/s doing this and see that they seem quite holy and have it all together. Maybe you read about it, pray about it, and hopefully discuss it with someone (although I know I tend to skip this step). You make the switch, time goes by, and then you see that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all or is no longer working for your family. So, you consider a change. Problem is that you might think, What will Sally think if I make this change? Will I still be as holy? We doubt, we feel less than, we question, and sometimes we don’t make that much-needed change because we don’t want flack from those who support us (or the flack we think they will give us but not necessarily). I know for me, it took me forever to acknowledge that my children needed to go to school. I felt like I wouldn’t have friends anymore, that I wasn’t as good of a mother, and that something was wrong with me. It took almost a complete break down for me to pay attention to God and realize it didn’t matter what my friends said, I needed to do this. To my surprise (although I don’t know why), the majority of them were very supportive and understood. I was the one with that ole’ yardstick, measuring my abilities or lack thereof.
Why do we do this? I think a lot of it is because we are so alone in the choice of living the teachings of the Church. Our culture is completely against us and oftentimes, even our very own family. We grope for much needed support, and we need to feel right in our decision so much so that what our friends think means so much to us. For the most part, I don’t think many women are intentionally putting pressure on other mothers to be a certain way, but there are those mothers who act as though they know the will of God for your family, and that makes it much harder for some moms to do what they need to do for their family. I think we all need a bit more charity. This world is so hard to navigate that we don’t need to feel we have to swim through the opinions of our friends choices when they are different from ours. We don’t always know the whole situation. Maybe it would be best to lend a listening ear or a helping hand to better understand why someone made the decision they did.