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Posts Tagged ‘Peer pressure’

Gifford Lorenz was my first friend outside of my family when I was maybe 7 years old. In my mind, he was wayyyyyyyy across town. In reality, it was probably a mile and a half. But I felt safe there. I liked going over his house. He was a good friend with good parents. Looking back, my parents felt safe with Giff and his folks.

At some point in life, we have to come out of our shells and mix with the world. For a “people-person,” the more the merrier. For introverts, the shell feels extremely comfortable, thank you.

Either way, it’s still a parent’s responsibility to keep a close eye on the relationships that their kids are building. There is peer pressure and the birds-of-a-feather syndrome. Positive peer pressure works. Unfortunately, misery-loves-company runs right alongside of every group.

When I grew up, I’m not sure I knew of one classmate who came from a “broken home.” Today…

Wounded children. They find comfort in others’ pain and they often hang out together, for better or worse. Usually, it’s not for the better. This is how we explain the gauths, teen pregnancies, addictions, gangs and a lot in between. Regarding gangs, we now have video records of unbelievable collective street behavior that probably stems from potent, bottled up anger that explodes like a toxic mix in a chemistry lab.

Understanding this, how should parents and their young navigate things like grade schools, high schools and going away to college?

Hanging out with the right crowd is one of life’s more important determinations; one that cannot exclusively be left to the child. Critical decisions are made in this context. For example, a spouse may eventually be chosen out of one of these “crowds.”

Parents have many strategies. Strap the kid into that seat until he is in the first chair in the orchestra. Make him dribble a basketball as soon as he stops dribbling in his height chair. Get them into a Drama Club and you might even get a few laughs yourself.

The general philosophy is that we line up our children with the children of parents who are our social, economical and academic peers; those mommies and daddies who tend to think like us. As parents, we often choose what their friends’ parents choose: schools, ball fields, clubs and colleges if they make it that far. However, we don’t always know the deepest convictions, preferences, morals and integrity of ALL of these parents, some of whom may end up being the mom or dad of our kids’ close friends.

Whatever strategy is taken, most children will end up in a crowd – even if it’s a crowd of one other person. When our kids are young, no parent ever considers leaving a child with a questionable babysitter. But as the kid grows, there is a propensity to let them choose their own friends. Sometimes this works. Sometimes they come back with drugs in their back pockets or  babies in their tummies.

You may not want to hire a private investigator to look into the backgrounds of your children’s prospective friends and their respective parents. However, if vigilance isn’t maintained, a good kid can become a bad kid pretty quickly.

On the other hand, good friends and their parents and extended families can make for an enriched extended community. Picnics, religious services, sports programs, recitals, birthday parties, shared vacations, graduations and eventually wedding bells may all be part of the rewards of proactive parenting.

In our era, there is a default to calling something “controlling” that is actually “wisdom.” Being a smart parent doesn’t make you nosey and overbearing.

Who your kids hang out with now may be the ones they hang out with for the rest of their lives, figuratively or literally speaking. That doesn’t bode well if those same buddies end up serving 5-15.

If this sounds scary, it is.

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”1 Corinthians 15:33

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

I will search for faithful people to be my companions.” Psalm 101:6

 

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