Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peer pressure

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” -Gal. 1:10

Peer is defined as “people who are equal in such respects as age, education or social class.”

Pressure (the symbol: P) is defined as “the force per unit area applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object.”

So, peer pressure is simply defined as “force applied by equal people.” And it’s the word “force” that can cause problems.

As a new school year begins, kids and teens all deal with the issue of “fitting in” to the world of their peers. As self-image and self-confidence are developing, it’s easy for comparison to become the norm for teenagers to gauge their self-worth. Therein lies the problem. In the teenage years there is no solid, applicable norm. Certainly in the teenage world, the standards are all over the place.

Of course, in the ultra-tolerant world we live in today, having absolutes or standards isn't “politically correct.” That creates dilemma, not just for teens, but for parents as well. That’s where the Bible and family standards need to enter the scene. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is not a set of “do’s and don’ts.” The Bible is a set of instructions that has stood the test of time, ready to be the stable guide for mankind. For teens and parents alike, it’s a gold mine of instructions and precepts to guide us through life.

With the Bible as a standard, it’s important that parents lay a foundation in the home as a norm for teens to take out into their worlds of school, sports and friendships. These spiritual and family foundations counter the pressure created by the media and peers. On any given evening of watching TV, one would think that having casual sex with an acquaintance is normal or that manipulation of an individual in a reality show is the way to succeed in life.

The truth is that integrity, honesty and faith are still the attributes that produce a peaceful, solid foundation for life. As kids encounter the pressures at school to deviate away from wholesome, healthy living, they need an alternative to counter the peer pressure. It’s not enough just to tell them to say “no.” Today’s teens need to know why. “Just say no” doesn't work today.

As parents, take the time to explain why sex outside of marriage is a counterfeit to the true purpose of the sexual experience within marriage. Explain to them why provocative dressing conveys a negative message. Engage and talk with your teen. You can't start these conversations too early, but you can also wait too late.

As negative peer pressure threatens to tilt teens towards unhealthy living, tip the scale the other direction by teaching your teen. Don't start a lecture series every evening, but take the time to discuss the issues with your teen and take the time to listen, listen, and listen again. Most teens know the right answers but need to process through them with someone they trust.

Peer pressure can be negative, but don’t lock your teen in a closet. They need to be “in the world but not of the world.”

Whether that’s politically correct or not.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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