Scripture tells us that life is like a “mist” – here today and gone tomorrow – but nothing captures this like childrearing.
My oldest son is now nine, but it seems just yesterday he was saying his first sentence (“I see lights”), taking his first steps (on a porch of a Cracker Barrel), and spelling his first word (“P-O-L-I-C-E” – he was infatuated with law enforcement).
He subsequently rode his first bike, lost his first tooth, and passed his first test.
It was incredible, and it all happened lightning-fast.
Now he is on the verge of his tween years, which will place him on the doorstep of his teen years, when will then launch him into adulthood.
And even though he still wants to be with me virtually every minute of the day, the time is fast approaching when he might want just the opposite. During those years – filled with pimples and voice changes and awkward moments – he will be tempted to spend more time with his friends than his family. And during those moments with his pals and perhaps even a girlfriend, he’ll be faced with peer pressure like he has never experienced.
I’m already seeing glimpses of this future. Just the other day he heard a boy his age say the f-word. Not long after that, he saw an older boy walking down the sidewalk, smoking. And then there was the time he heard some college students – at a sporting event – mock God.
For the first few years of his life, we encouraged him to play with other kids. Now, we sometimes urge him to stay away from other kids. And I can pretty much read his mind as he thinks: “Why are some boys and girls different from me?”
Honestly, I am prepared for the days when he thinks his dad is no longer cool. But I don’t want him ever to be ashamed of Christ and His teachings.
So, when he asks me a question about his friends and the subject turns into a conversation about peer pressure, I try to make three main points:
1. It’s OK to be different. The lure to “go along” with the crowd stems from our desire to be accepted, to have friends, to be “cool.” But at what price? As my parents often said, “If everyone went and jumped off a bridge, would you?” Besides, where do the “followers” rank in world history? Not very high. The heroes of history are the men and women who didn’t just “go along,” who didn’t care if they were cool, who didn’t follow the crowd. They opposed popular opinion. They heroes of the Bible did, too. So should we.
2. God expects you to be different. God told the ancient Israelites: “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy …” (Leviticus 20:26). The Israelites were to be set apart. How? By obeying God and following His commandments. It’s no different today. After all, if we as Christians act exactly like the world, what’s the point? Jesus said: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). A light attracts attention. People notice it. And compared to the dark, it’s very different.
3. God will give you the grace to be different. He will grant you the strength (Joshua 1:9) and the words (Luke 12:12, Luke 21:15) to stand firm in your faith. And when you’re tempted, He will provide a “way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Besides, many kids will respect you because of your stance. And if they make fun of you, so what? You’ve got good company. The prophets and apostles were ridiculed. So was Christ.
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes salted, unshelled peanuts at minor league baseball games. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog? Send him an email: michaelfoust (at) gmail.com. Also, check out the video section.
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