I have been in youth ministry forty-one years and have talked with many teens, asking them what issue is most important to them. Without fail, teens tell me its friends. What their friends think about them, what they do with them, what they do to them, and how to make more friends is IMPORTANT.
Friendship is ever on the mind of a teen. It’s the basic cause of peer pressure influencing them and many of the emotional ups and downs your teen experiences. Friends are everything.
Choosing a good friend should be taught. Teens, and even young children choose friends oftentimes because the person is popular.
Begin instructing your children about what a good friend is when they are young.
- When they have chosen a friend wisely, comment on it. Just say, “You really choose good friends well.”
- Teach your children compassion and direct them toward the quiet girl in class or the boy who no one else talks to. Challenge your son to be the one to accept someone who is not being accepted by others readily.
- Teach your daughter what a “frenemie” is. A “frenemie” is someone they become close to under the guise of friendship when that person is actually trying to hurt and embarrass them. Although we want to teach our children to be forgiving, we also need to teach them to steer clear of those who would hurt them. You wouldn’t keep quiet or encourage your teen to hang out with someone who is physically hurting them. Don’t allow them to hang out with those who emotionally hurts them. Teach them to forgive and pray for their “frenemie” while walking away.
- Negative peer pressure can be thwarted:
- A loving home is a defense against your teen giving in to peer pressure.
- Maintaining integrity in your family name and developing ownership of your family name in your children is important.
- Lessons on consequences of poor choices is needed. (Follow through with consequences for poor choices, with forgiveness of course.)
- Positive peer pressure can be taught. Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing. We
are pressured in many ways to purchase things, elect officials, join a great gym, and become a part of a youth group. Peer pressure is influencing your peer group. As you instruct your son in the Word and he is following Christ, he can be a great influencer of peers for Christ. Show him from the Word he is to be a missionary to his peers. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” He can “sharpen” his friends spiritually. Keeping this in mind he will choose friends who will walk alongside of him and together they can make friends of many.
Friends are extremely important to our teens. Start today instructing your young children about how to pick friends. Don’t ignore your teen. Gently guide them through this time. Be there for them and be willing to listen when they need to share.