Is your teen struggling with peer pressure lately? It happens and it’s vital that you support your teenager in coping with peer influence. Peer pressure is when your teenager does what they wouldn’t do in order to fit in or be accepted and valued by their friends. Peer influence could be positive or negative. If your teenager is being influenced positively, that’s good for you but things could go south if your teenager gets influenced by negative peer influence.
As is commonly known, peers are people of the same age, same interests, or social status. Peers hang out together, go to watch a football match together, and spend a lot of time with one another.
Your teenage behaviors and characters are shaped by the people they spend the most part of their time with. These people are none other than our peers.
Peer Pressure Amongst Teenagers
Peer pressure usually kicks off in the teenage years. By the time, one is a youth; their character is already shaped and built by the people he used to hang out with when he was still a teenager. Ultimately, as a young adult, a person picks on the mannerisms or characters of the people he or she works with or his informal group.
Therefore, it is important to know that peer pressure is real. We cannot run away from peers in our lives, however, we should be careful about the kind of pressure that our peers might exert on us to do something.
For instance, you might be non-alcoholic but your peers have no qualms about using strong drinks. As such, they will impart pressure on their peer who does not drink into joining them for a drink. Conversely, a devoted Christian young man would put pressure on his peer who is a drug addict to accompany him to church to worship God.
Peer Pressure Amongst Adults
Nonetheless, regardless of gender or age, we cannot run away from peer pressure in our lives. Mildred sits in a self-help group where every member of the group drives a car except her. Mildred, therefore, decides to take a bank loan against her wish to buy herself the latest BMW to suit her group.
Still, down the streets, you hear such talks as “everybody is doing it nowadays”, “Kickbacks are obvious, people in government take them I don’t mind taking them too”.
Peer pressure is a powerful force that influences our lives and we need to say no to it especially when it is negative peer pressure.
Daniel is a biblical character who lived an outstanding Christian life despite living and working with people who did not worship Jehovah.
Serving in the royal courts of king Nebuchadnezzar back then, Daniel and his three friends refused to feast on the royal food that contained meat from ceremonially unclean animals.
Even when other Jewish inhabitants had conformed to the Babylonian gods, Daniel and his three friends resolved not to be defiled (full story in Daniel chapter 1).
There are a number of factors affecting the 21st-century teenager and youth such as
1. External Influence.
As mentioned earlier, peer pressure could be both positive and negative. With respect to negative peer pressure, an individual is faced with influences that go against his wish and personal values.
In today’s high-tech life, the youths have become highly tech-savvy and therefore spend most of the time glued to their smart gadgets. This denies them the chance to spend time and interact with adults who would otherwise correct them when they misbehave or go wrong.
On the other hand, smartphones come with all manner of content that the youths feed on without guidance from their parents, guardians, or pastors.
Content such as drugs, devil worship, and sexting influences the youth negatively. The media has also a great influence on how the present-day youth behave.
2. Internal Influence
Youth with low self-esteem are most likely to be influenced by the opinions, attitudes, and perceptions of their peers more than their parents.
This is because the youth always sees themselves as unattractive, unpopular, and unintelligent which makes them more vulnerable to peer pressure.
Ultimately, this young man sinks deep into negative social influences apparently because of a lack of healthy friend associations and spiritual guidance.
Dire consequences of negative peer pressure are right in front of our eyes as evidently seen in violence amongst young people, drug addiction, car accidents, early pregnancies, and abortions.
Overcoming Negative Peer Pressure
Youths and persons of any age can learn to overcome negative peer pressure by
• Saying a polite no without hurting or offending others.
The Bible gives a perfect, clear example of politely saying no through the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. He politely said no to the sexual advances of her master’s wife.
• Avoiding the source
Joseph had to stay away from Potiphar’s wife in order to avoid the temptation that waylaid him.
Many times in our lives we want to do the right things but we stay in the company of the wrong people.
You do not seek marriage advice from a divorcee. In the same way, you do not seek financial advice from a broke person because he will mention to you all the reasons why you cannot make money.
• Fleeing from the source
After repeated nags from Potiphar’s wife unto Joseph to indulge in an illicit affair, Joseph had but only one option; to flee from the source.
At times fleeing might cost us our friends but then, there is no point in sacrificing your bright future for an individual who is leading you to a gutter.
• Being prepared to pay the price
After standing his ground against Potiphar’s wife, Joseph ultimately found himself in prison for crimes he had not committed.
In overcoming negative peer pressure, we might pay the price in one way or another by losing our friends, and false accusations but it is worth it because, in the end, you will be healthier, wiser, and stronger.
• Parent’s Teaching
Parents should teach their young children at an early age to make rational decisions. They should constantly approve and disapprove of the kind of friendships their children entertain. Parents should mold their teenagers into making the right choices in life. On the other hand, children should be free to share the kind of friends they have with their parents.
• Choosing their friends wisely
Friendship with an angry man makes one an angry person too. Youth and teenagers should choose friends that reflect their deepest values and qualities and shun young people that project vice.
• Refusing to be fooled by moral relativism
This is an attitude that says am okay, you are okay, no matter what we think and do as long as it does not hurt the other person.
How WRONG! Whatever we do affects others directly or indirectly. If I play music in my home theatre at the highest volume, yes, it is cool but to my nearest neighbor that would be noise and a breach of environmental laws.
Having this kind of attitude weakens our resolve to be moral and mind others, however, if we focus on building our character by watching and reading what has the ability to influence us positively, life will be better.
If your teenager or youth is struggling with peer pressure, not all is lost and they aren’t alone. Most people succumb to peer pressure because of the fear of rejection and the need to be accepted.
As such, because of their insecurity, they fall victim to manipulation from their peers and are influenced negatively. Nevertheless, we should always be bold and stand up for what we believe in. Resist and overcome negative peer pressure.