How do we help our children deal with unhealthy peer pressure? We could just as correctly ask, “How do we help them deal with every issue they face?” Of course, the answer is always the same. Stick to the Word of God, and things will go well with you, but we can get more specific than that. Parents do themselves and their children well by helping them understand the reasons behind the rules.
One of the most important concepts we can convey to our children is that we are to do everything as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23). We keep our eyes stayed on God, without looking to the left or right (Prov. 4:25-27). That means we choose in all of our activities not to blindly follow the crowd, but to decide whether what we are doing pleases God and gives Him glory. How might we judge whether or not something pleases God? Philippians 4:8 gives us great guidance. We decide if it is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy. We can also decide if it edifies and builds up others (Eph. 4:29). If what we are doing does not fulfill these qualifications, we lay it aside. We can teach our children to use these characteristics to judge such things as the music they listen to, the movies they watch, the books they read, the games they play, the friends they choose, and the way they talk and what they talk about, just to name a few examples. Any activity that glorifies elements counter to God’s character would not be a wise choice. Does it include coarse jesting, cursing, violence, homage to demon spirits or exaggeration of their power, glorification of sin, evil triumphing over virtue? These things would be unwise activities in which to participate.
The object, however, is not to come up with a list of do’s and don’ts for our children. The goal is to speak to our child’s heart regarding such matters. Our children are born with a will of their own -- some stronger than others. When our children were young, the Lord said to me, “I gave them their will; it is your job to turn it toward Me.“ When we do that, our children will be less negatively influenced by their peers. When we train them to have hearts after God‘s own heart, like David did, their desires will be to please God and make Holy Spirit inspired decisions rather than decisions based simply on what is socially acceptable or popular. They will be less likely to be conformed to the world’s way of doing things (Rom. 12:2; Col. 2:8-9). That does not mean they will not make mistakes, but it does mean that when they do mess up, they will be quick to repent, which is another important concept to teach them at a young age. When your child disobeys or makes unhealthy choices, apply the appropriate correction but then always lead them into repentance. Correction without a change of heart, a repentant attitude, accomplishes nothing; it only hardens their heart.
Also help your children understand that they are forgiven and loved by you and by God -- no matter what. This helps them later to understand that they can always run into the loving arms of God and not to be fearful or ashamed when they do something wrong. When our children made mistakes, we corrected them, had them apologize for the wrong, led them in prayer asking God for forgiveness, and explained that God no longer held their mistakes against them (Psalm 103:12). We would also show them Scripture relating to the offense and help them recognize how to make a better, Scriptural choice next time. We would discuss why God wanted them to make certain choices -- not to take their fun away, but because He wanted what was best for them, and in the long run, doing things God’s way would bring them protection, joy, and blessing.
We need to help our children understand that they are special to God, and he has gifted them with unique gifts that only they have, and that God specifically gave them those gifts to use for Him to reach out to others. If they develop their unique talents to the fullest and use them to serve God and others, they will be doing exactly what God created them to do. To do this, each person needs to look up to the Lord for guidance in every area of his or her life and not make decisions based solely on what peers are doing or what is popular at the time. It takes courage to stand out from the crowd, but great blessings result. When they do face tough decisions, remind your children that God is for them, that greater is He Who is in them than he who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4). We are in this world, not of it (John 17:13-16). We are here to be ambassadors of Christ in every area of our lives so that we can be examples of His great love and redemption (2 Cor. 5:18-20). That will encourage them to stand strong for the Lord and His way of doing things.
Keep up the good work of discipling your children,
If you have never made Jesus the Lord of your life and desire to, pray this: Dear God, I believe that Jesus is your Son, that He died on the cross for me and was resurrected for my redemption. I choose to make Jesus the Lord of my life. I thank you for forgiving me and for filling me with Your Holy Spirit. I thank You that I am Your child, that You are my Father, and that You have great things planned for me. Amen.