We want to teach our children to be kind and loving—but kind and loving are not the same thing as having no backbone and no boundaries. When dealing with peer pressure and the general atmosphere of social pressure presented by our culture, we need to model and communicate a full message: be kind, be loving, have a backbone, have boundaries. We love our neighbors, we are considerate of everyone, but we do not give in to bad influences.
Here are a few ways to address social pressure in your home and community:
Set the Tone
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” —Psalm 1:1
Teach your children or mentees the importance of surrounding themselves with friends who have similar values, because who they associate with matters and can have either positive or negative consequences. Model this in your home as you socialize with other families, neighbors, and friends. Take stock of your own behavior… are you modeling compassion and kindness for all while also maintaining firm lines for your own principles? Make your home a safe place for your kids to invite their friends, and get to know who your children are associating with as well as their guardians. It’s not a matter of trying to “batten down the hatches,” but rather helping your children develop an inner moral compass that will enable them to make wise choices in who they spend the bulk of their time with.
“Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.” —Proverbs 23:17
Teach your children to be a positive friend. There is nothing enviable in sin. Sin escalates and leads to death (James 1:15). Be open and honest with your kids or those you disciple about the effects of sin. Encourage them to have courage in their interpersonal relationships and to eagerly desire the fruit of righteousness (Philippians 1:10-11). Let them know they are not alone and all of us are faced with pressure in this sexualized culture. In an age-appropriate way, let them know how you are dealing with the pressures you face. Acknowledge the issues in their world and encourage open dialogue. Give them examples and language around how to handle various situations. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is say, “no, that’s not my thing” and model to our peers, “hey, you don’t have anything to prove to me, and you don’t have to do this either.” Making good choices will be difficult at times so you need to encourage them to develop their own boundaries. Let them know you’ll always be their safety net.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” —Proverbs 13:20
Prepare your kids or disciples early for what they will see and hear that is contrary to God’s design. Have your child look around next time you’re out shopping or dining. Ask him what he observes students a grade above him doing. Is your daughter in middle school? Ask her if she notices how the high schoolers in your community behave. Help them think critically about what they want their own lives to look like. Who do they respect and look up to? Who do they want to be like? “Someday” is elusive. Start being now who you want to become. Cultivate hope in your home. Not wishy-washy, shoulder-shrugging, “I hope so.” But real, expectant, confident hope in God’s plan and purpose for your kid’s life.
“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” —Proverbs 4:14-18
Let’s commend a “brighter and brighter” path to our children and disciples.
Check out our new FREE devotional about a prophet who addressed the social pressure of his day head on—Hosea: God’s Story of Sex and Salvation!
For more like this post, check out our Quest: Parenting in a Sexualized Culture resource.