By Shelly Burke, Author and Editor
(The posts for the A to Z Blogging Challenge will focus on teaching kids lessons from selected Bible verses. Adapt your teaching to the age of the kids you’re talking with.)
“My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise, for disaster will arise suddenly from them…” Prov. 24:21
Begin by asking your children if they are ever tempted to join a group that, deep down, they know they shouldn’t join. Maybe it’s a group of kids teasing the new kid or plotting to cheat on a test…or plotting to sneak out and drink, have sex, or do something even more dangerous.
Peer pressure can be a powerful thing. But remind kids of the consequences; if teachers, the principal, or parents find out, the consequences can be severe and sudden and in some cases (like drinking and driving or having sex) can have life-altering consequences.
When I was a teenager my dad told me, “You need to decide what you’re going to do if you get into a bad situation, before you get into it. Of course you want to avoid the situation in the first place, but if you get into a situation where there is pressure to cheat, or skip class, or drink or use drugs, or you are alone with your boyfriend, you need to know ahead of time what you’re going to do in the midst of that temptation.” We knew that if we got into a bad situation, we could call mom and dad and they would pick us up, no questions asked. Of course the next day we’d have to account for it but their priority was to get us out of the situation.
Talk with your kids—even young kids--about situations in which they might find themselves and what they could do. Role play the “bad guy” trying to tempt your child to bully or cheat or drink. Younger kids might go to the teacher or tell you what’s going on. I’ve heard of kids who text their parents and in turn the parents call and “demand” the child get home “right now,” so they “have to” leave the party. We told our kids that they could say, truthfully, “If I do that and my parents find out I’ll be grounded for months!”
It’s important to reassure kids that they will be forgiven for actions when they are truly sorry for them—forgiven by God as well as by you. They will still have to face consequences, but they will be forgiven.
Encourage your kids to join a group that others will want to imitate, as in Paul’s words to the Philippians; “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Phil. 4:17) In the verses prior to this one, Paul is says that he is not perfect, but he is always striving to, with the help of God, do His will. We should strive to imitate Christ’s example and be an example to others. How do we know what His example is? By reading His Word and following His example of kindness, forgiveness, humility, and so on.
Encourage your kids to join…but to join a group of kids with positive values and actions.