Does the Bible Address Peer Pressure Among Kids?
I am sure that you Christian parents know that many influences that your children are exposed to are directly opposed to the moral and spiritual health of your children.
I have been teaching in prison for over 20 years, and although I have not done a formal study, I think I can say that the vast majority of the men whom I have known behind prison walls are there because of bad influences in their lives, most often from friends who first influenced them to do immoral things and then illegal things. From what I have experienced, I conclude that engaging with the wrong crowd is one of the greatest threats to the spiritual health of your children.
Many young people are seduced by the influence of friends to change their thinking and then engage in behavior that at one time would have made them shudder. The Bible speaks to this. In 1 Corinthians 15:33, the apostle Paul warned, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Again, in Philippians 3:18-19, Paul warns, “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
Friends who influence your children to do illegal or immoral things are dangerous. They have learned how to manipulate adults and they are proud of things that they should be ashamed of. They are proud of the fact that they get away with taking drugs or knowing how to get them. They are proud of how experienced they have become about engaging in illicit sex.
They are deceptive because what they are doing is wrong—they know that, and they want to hide it from you.
Clues to Consider
There are a number of clues that indicate your children are involved with individuals who are negatively influencing them. Your children may begin:
- withdrawing from you, demanding to be left alone
- exhibiting sudden mood swings
- resisting your values and family guidelines
- always texting or taking phone calls in private
- becoming evasive about where they have been or what they were doing before they came home
- lying or trying to deceive you
- objecting about going to church or Student Ministry gatherings
- making negative comments about friends who follow Jesus
- becoming unusually sensitive and defensive about their friends, especially if you happen to question their character or influence
If you begin to see these kinds of behaviors in your children, you can be almost positive that someone is influencing your children in a way that you do not want.
Privacy Is a Privilege
I have had parents tell me that they felt it was wrong to invade their teenager’s privacy. Parents, you need to accept the fact that privacy is a privilege. If your child demonstrates that he or she is lying, deceiving, engaging in immoral behavior, or violating your rules, that child has forfeited the privilege of privacy. You are in a battle for your child’s spiritual well-being. So when your child abuses his or her privacy, you need to do whatever you can to guard that child from making destructive decisions.
When one of my boys was a preteen, my wife and I learned that he had been lying to us. He lost his privacy at that moment. We began checking on him (including searching his room) for a number of months. He had to do a Bible study on lying and write a report of what he learned. Our diligence paid off; a few years later, his schoolteacher told us that he was the one student in class whom she could trust to tell the truth. He regained our trust, and we restored his privacy once he demonstrated that he was worthy of having the privilege.
As you seek to love and protect your children, they may object. Yet, if you continue seeking the Lord’s wisdom and drawing upon wisdom from biblical warnings, you can be confident that this difficult aspect of parenting is for your children’s benefit. You can assure them that it is your love for them that is guiding your decision; you care so much about them that you do not want them to follow a path of self-destruction.