“These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Our children are facing an intense battle for their hearts, minds, and souls. One of the great weapons Satan uses against them is peer pressure.
While even adults face peer pressure, it is especially difficult for children. They lack the wisdom and knowledge we should have as adults. Part of our job as parents is to prepare them to face it. How can we do this?
Teach Your Children God’s Word. They are going to be taught many things by many people. They will be bombarded with worldly values and morals. If you don’t teach your children, someone else will. Don’t assume they are getting enough of God’s word in Bible class. It’s your job first. As you teach them God’s word, put skin on it… make it practical. Show them how to live it! Make it exciting! Make it real!
Set The Example. You cannot expect your children to resist peer pressure, while you compromise your morals and convictions because you want acceptance by your friends, family, or coworkers. Kids are neither blind nor stupid. For instance, if you dress immodestly to fit in with your peers, how can you expect your children to not want to fit in with their peers, even if it means compromising their morals? If your life at home doesn’t match your faith in the pew, they will notice!
Help Them Choose Right Early On. From the time they are little, teach them actions have consequences. Let them suffer for choosing to do wrong. Discipline is essential. As they get a little older, they do have to start making their own choices, but don’t let them run headlong into sin saying, “Well, they have to decide for themselves…” You wouldn’t let them walk out mindlessly into traffic would you?
Know Their Friends And Their Behavior. Friends walk in the door and put on a good front. They are courteous and thoughtful. As soon they get away, it may be a different story. Care enough to spend time with them getting to really know them. Find out what they are doing. Be nosy. Your kids need it! Peer pressure is incredibly tough for adults, you know it is even harder for those who are younger.
Monitor Cell Phone, Computer, and Social Media Use. There is so much going on right now, especially among middle and high school kids, it’s scary. There are social media apps and internet setups specially designed to avoid parental monitoring. Sexting is a major problem. So is bullying. We are so connected that the peer pressure doesn’t end when they get home. You may feel like you do not want to invade their privacy, but the internet and social media can be dangerous places for our children. It can also be places where dangerous people can hide.
Do Not Bury Your Head In The Sand. You will always look at your child the way you did when you first held them in your arms… the way you looked at them when you took them by the hand and taught them to walk. But they are growing up. They are beginning to walk on their own and there is a lot to trip them up. We think our children are so sweet and innocent that they would never do that… whatever that is. Do you believe, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall?” If this applies to adults, certainly it applies to our children.
Have Real Conversations. This is more than that awkward birds and bees discussion, but that is needed too. It is uncomfortable to talk about some subjects. Perhaps we fear that we will expose them to too much life too soon. Here’s the thing… they’ve likely already been exposed. They may not fully comprehend it, but they have heard about it. It’s everywhere. The innocence of youth isn’t as innocent as you think. Your child is likely more aware than you realize… again, we like to think of them as younger than they are. If you don’t teach them about what is going on out there, they will learn it from people with worldly values!
Be The Parent Not The Peer. It’s nice if you can hang out with your kids and be their friend. But God has not called you to be one of their buddies… you are called to be their parent. If you parent now, later on you will have that friendship. But right now you have to be willing to make the hard decisions, deal out consequences, and make them mad. They may say hurtful things, storm out of the room, or give you the silent treatment. Life will go on. You probably did this to your parents at some point in time too. They have to learn about right and wrong, morality, and consequences.