Dealing with Peer Pressure
Who do YOU Want to Be?
Children and teens should be encouraged to have fun, enjoy themselves, and be active-- according to what is in their hearts. If they want to bowl, encourage it. If they want to play an instrument, encourage that, too. If they want to write during the week, and rock climb on weekends, let them!
Point out this easily observable fact to youth: In grade school, and especially in high school, there is an elite group and there is the morass of nameless followers. The "elite" result from one simple thing: they are themselves. Others, the morass of followers, long to find an identity
Find a Personal Identity
Seeing an identity working for someone else: wearing tight jeans and makeup, being funny, being the go-to player on the team... the followers attempt to become like the person they see getting attention.
Instead, they should be themselves, however, whoever that may be- as long as it is not defying safe, legal, normal, etcetera. The "cool" kids are really just the kids who have found an identity, enjoy it, and have peace. Everyone wants peace! Youth see one girl or one guy who seems to be put together socially and academically very well. Who would not want the same? So, they attempt (mostly subconsciously) to be like the successful person they admire (or envy!)
Peace or Bondage?
They feel if they belong, or are accepted by the crowd, then they will have peace. But, peace doesn't come with winning the approval of others. Only bondage comes with desiring the approval of others. In effect, the approval-givers control the approval-seekers. It is a master-slave kind of relationship. One wears, thinks, says, and does what the other tells them is the right way, the good way, the effective way... and even tells them what the end goals are.
Instead of complying with what you perceive to be the "correct" societal personality, be yourself. Parents: encourage your child to be himself or herself.
Who is Really having the Best High School Experience?
Personally, I never did drugs or smoked weed while I was in high school. It did not cost me any friends that were worth having.
Also, teens should not be jealous of the kids that play all the sports, join all the academic teams, and run for student council every year. I did all that. Three years after high school, I ran into the all-student-body president and homecoming queen from my senior class.
She asked me, "What kind of abuse did you suffer?" This question surprised me. But, it was right on. My step-father had started beating me midway through my Freshman year.
I said, "Physical. My step-father used to beat me when I won an argument. He used spatulas, the ash poker from the fire place, and even hit me once with a chair." I asked how she knew I had been abused.
"Didn't you know?" She asked. "We all were abused."
I stared at her. "We?" I asked.
"All of us. Everyone on student council. All the people that didn't want to go home. All the people who joined everything they could that gave them a reason not to go home. We all had verbal, emotional, and physical abuse at home."
So, the child that goes to classes, studies, and stays at home with parents in a loving home every weekend should appreciate that that life is quite possibly better than the life of all those who are accomplishing so much. Just be yourself, the one that makes YOU happy. Pray for the others.
Teenage Peer Pressure
Teens with each successive generation seem to learn more and worse ways to find trouble. Every generation deals with drinking. Increasingly, drug use became a problem following the 50's. Today, sex and immorality are bigger problems.
Here are some things you should absolutely avoid:
Sexting: The Internet knows no forgiveness. Send one image or video, and you can be the focus of perverts forever. There has been a recent upsurge in dealing in antique photos, naked women who are no longer with us; it is a shame that can possibly never go away. Just never take a nude image. If your bf pressures you for it, dump him. And, tell your friends what a creep he is. The number of "boyfriend revenge" sites, which host nude pics and webcam videos from ex-girlfriends is increasing every day. Don't sext!
Drunken parties: Teens shift into independence by pushing boundaries. Rule breaking, unfortunately, is one of these boundaries. Illegal drinking seems to be step 1. When I was in high school, I drank at some of these parties. What a waste! First, beer is horrible. 95% of all beer tastes like goat urine. Vomiting and lying to parents are also extremely undesirable, and never leave a good aftertaste.
Drugs: Don't use drugs. I never did. Today, it is one of my strengths. I know I never used drugs, and this gives me two strengths. First, drugs cannot tempt me. Second, I know I can accomplish something long-term. It gives me a confidence. Anything you do just for you, and succeed in, becomes a strength. And, people will respect you for it.
Extend Kindness to those who Apply Pressure
Often times, the bully at school does not receive any positive attention. Likewise, those who pressure others to follow their own behavior are often desperate for acceptance.
King Solomon gave this wise advice:
"A gift in secret pacifies anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath." (Proverbs 21:14)
"A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men." (Proverbs 18:16)
Giving a gift or compliment (a reward in the bosom, words that make someone feel good) can pacify an aggressive attitude toward you. Likewise, giving the right gift(s) can open doors and bring you new friends. This should be done with the right intentions and in kindness.
There is much more wisdom to be read in Proverbs.
Just because a teen or other person does not want to participate in activities others they know like to do, it does not mean those people must be alienated. (Though, in extreme cases, it is spiritually wise to disassociate from wrongdoers. It may be legally wise as well.)
Conclusion: Be Yourself, and Others will want to be YOU.
Just be yourself.
Following the precedent of others in daring-do, fashion, and social style put you into bondage to that lifestyle and to the people who lead those cliques. Instead, YOU set the precedent by being yourself.
Few really find themselves and find peace. True peace requires a right relationship with God and a right relationship with yourself. Find and be who you are in Christ. That is how true peace comes.