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Struggling with peer pressure

Wednesday, 10. December 2014 by Renee Ellison

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How do I teach my children how to withstand peer pressure? My son is a completely different person when he is around a certain friend. We have spoken to him about his behavior, but it seems that he desires a friend so much that he is willing to change to fit in with this other boy’s way of functioning. The other boy makes fun of everything we do, and our son joins in with this behavior so he will be accepted and have “fun.” When my husband and I correct him about it he becomes grumpy and sullen. He is a marvelous, loving, caring, kind, helpful, gentle young man when he is at home, but a completely different person when around this other person.

Wanting to please their peers can be a serious problem for young people. When my husband’s folks raised their children, they solved the problem with daring forthrightness; they simply told them, “You’re different! Get used to it!” And get used to it, they did. The primary way? They were taught to participate in all things good by leading everything, whenever possible. Also, they were never allowed to go to worldly events. They had to occupy themselves with something else that evening—something that would grow their world. So occupy they did—and soon forgot the other.

In our own family, we isolated the child and taught her that the way of the common peer is a boring path of mediocrity—showing her time and again that when people saturate themselves in the world it doesn’t lead anyplace good. They do endless figure 8’s throughout life. We diffused the lure of the pagan by pointing out the end results over and over again. Eventually she began seeing it herself, and pointed it out to us.

Thus, instead of being fearful that your child won’t fit in, you make him euphoric with his own high plans. He will scarcely have time to contemplate the life of worldlings, because he is sooooooo busy making something exceptional out of his own world—and getting ahead in life. Perhaps your husband can take your son to work, with the goal that he would learn a practical trade, perhaps building his own paid-for house someday with the skills his father taught him and thereby never have a mortgage—for example. Now that’s an exciting consuming goal for a while. Help him set his personal goals higher.

Don’t give in—and don’t give up. Sharpen your vigilance. Increase your own friendship and time with him. We have great encouragement in the Psalms that it is okay—more than that, it is actually righteous—to choose righteous friends. Proverbs 18:24: “A man with unreliable friends comes to ruin.” Have him look up that verse and these, too: Proverbs 12:26, 13:20, and 14:8. Proverbs 5 talks about giving thought to your ways—and that the ungodly wander aimlessly.

So, who should the children of godly parents relate to then, especially if they have few if any peers? The immediate family. You just go deeper with befriending siblings. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s family life was amazing. The brothers were deep good friends. They constantly challenged each other, intellectually and spiritually, so much so that eventually no one on the outside could keep up with their vigor and rigor. The Bonhoeffer boys began to see that their own family was exceptional—and that they couldn’t find such first-rate companions just anywhere.

The best companions any child can have are other mature Bible-believing adults—most especially his parents. Peers generally drag each other down. A third grader doesn’t have enough of an experience base to mentor another third grader, for example. Hover over the formation of friends very carefully. Continue the watchfulness all the way until you get them down the marriage aisle with a like-minded mate of deeply shared faith—ideally, early on. Then, and only then, can you put your feet up and rest. The devil tells you to quit such work when they are 16 (or 6, for that matter, when parents give them over to kindergartens all over the world).

Develop in each child the habit of having strong personal daily devotions. See to it that your children read in scripture every day by themselves and for themselves. Teach them the habit of underlining something for themselves and taking down one idea from the text; they can write it in their own notebook. For adolescents it wouldn’t hurt to read ten chapters of Proverbs every day for three days and then do it all over again—and again and again for a while. The book of Proverb repeatedly warns that having the wrong friends can lead to ruin. Scripture will speak directly to their spirit. Make them eager to see what God says, for the final bar is soon.

Finally, don’t submit to parental erosion. One of the enemy’s commonly used tricks is to make us throw our hands up. Instead, we throw our prayers up, and we “up” our vigilance. By doing this, you will be tracking the problem at the “letting out of waters”—at the hole in the dike, right at the source.

1 Total Comments Struggling with peer pressure”

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  1. 1 Ddip 14. Dec 2014 10:43 AM

    My! What a timely, challenging and inspiring post! Just yesterday I had a difficult time as the old enemy often tries to depress us at this time of year saying we have not made progress at all, or that the kids would be better off in school. I’d love to know families like that of your husbands, and the Bonhoeffers too! I keenly feel my lack of thinking outside the box in some of these areas, especially as a child who was never taught or modeled these ways at all. I also wish that even as an adult peer pressure didn’t affect me too. It’s not easy going against the grain, when that grain is those at your own church who feel their children are better off in daycare/ kindergarten/ public school as they advance their careers and bank accounts. I’d love more ideas on activities to advance my children. Surely though, the Bible devotions have got to be the absolute deal-breaker for us as Believers and it’s a solemn thing that here as a family we do not read it as deeply and as much as we ought to. Thank you for a wonderful post, it really has turned my morning around.

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