By John A. Smith
Negative Influence Of Their Peers
To overcome negative peer pressure the young person must begin with the right mental attitude.
1. Expect that it will come. Do not be so naive as to think that it will not affect you.
2. Determine to resist it. Without a firm resolve to resist the corrupting influence of others, you will get no place. Part of Joseph’s ability to resist Mrs. Potiphar’s advances came from his determination to say no (Gen. 39:8).
3. Counteract it. Find some positive step that you can take to counteract the influence of those who would have a negative influence.
A. Check it out.
1. Look at what’s going on – does it appear to be normal? healthy? right?
2. Listen carefully – are friends being honest? direct? or just a “sales pitch”?
3. Apply the “Trouble Rule.”
a. Does it break the law (moral or civil)?
b. Will it make someone I respect angry?
c. Will it harm a relationship or hurt someone’s feelings?
d. Will your friend only do “whatever” if you participate?
B. Make a good decision (and evaluate afterwards).
C. Act to avoid trouble.
4. Avoid it. Watch the situation in which you find yourself and avoid those where you know you will be tempted. Joseph successfully escaped the advance of his boss’ wife y not hanging around her and then running away from her Gen. 39:10,12).
How Can Parents Help?
Parents need to pay the price, take the time, and do whatever is necessary to know who their children have chosen as friends. This may mean a house crowded with young people, a back yard with well worn base paths or a r that becomes a taxi. But now honestly, is it not worth at small price? They are the only children that we will have. Your houses will be silent soon enough. The time will come later for a yard that resembles a new carpet. Cars can be replaced, but our children have only one soul.
We need to strive to be sympathetic with them. Remember that you were once a teenager yourself. Regardless of what your children might think, you were not born an old “foggy.” There was a time when you spoke as a child, understood as a child, and thought as a child (1 Cor. 13:11). Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians is appropriate for every parent: “warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thess. 5:14).
Parents need to be supportive and encouraging of their children. If you tell a young person that he is stupid, good-for-nothing, and untrustworthy, he will prove you right. Be a Barnabas to some young person. Be as Paul was to Timothy. Praise him. Comfort him when he makes mistakes helping him to remember that he serves a loving and forgiving God. Be quick to pick him up when he falls.
Young people are subjected to many pressures, yet none which cannot be overcome and conquered. Young people need good role models, encouragement, understanding, acceptance and patience. Sacred history records the biographies of many outstanding young people (Daniel; Joseph; Timothy; David; Josiah) all of whom faced and conquered obstacles and problems. Sometimes they fell down, but they always got up through God’s outstretched hand to continue faithful to the end.
God bless you in your youth!
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 13, p. 397
July 4, 1991