Peers are the children or youth of same age. Age-mates who provide a supportive network for the children or youth are called peer-group. The influence of the peer group that pressurizes a child or a youth to behave in a certain way is called ‘peer pressure’. Friends play important roles in the normal development of a child or adolescent.
When youngsters grow older, they face challenges in making decisions. Some don’t have a clarity regarding right or wrong answers and other decisions that involve serious moral questions. Making decisions on one’s own is hard but when the peer group get involved and try to pressurize the youth in decision-making, it can be even harder. It is always important for the youth to know their friends, the pressures they put and the skills required to handle them.
Friendships or peer pressure can be negative or positive and can be handled properly by individuals according to their own value system. For example, if a youngster has proper knowledge of what is right or wrong, then he/she can recognize the negative friend or peer pressure and avoid it or allow the positive peer pressure to influence. Our value system does play a major role in handling the pressures from the friends but sometimes despite of our value system, youth find it difficult to say ‘No’ to negative peer pressure. In this case the youth need to learn few skills to say ‘No’ to peer pressure, which has negative influence on them. The skills are as follows –
- Be strong in Decision-Making: It is always important to take decisions that your value system approves of. Listen to your conscience. Never take decisions with excitement or emotion. Lean not on your own understanding but prayerfully wait on the Lord while taking decisions.
- Listen to advice: Proverbs 8:33 says, ‘Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.’ Proverbs 19:20 says, ‘Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.’ Proverbs 4:1 says, ‘Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.’ So never despise the instructions or advice of elders.
- Confide everything with one of the family members: Ecclesiastes 4:9 says ‘Two are better than one; (because they have a good reward for their labour.’) Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, ‘And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.’ So it is always better to confide with someone before taking any step, so that he/she can advise you or help you when you are in trouble.
- Learn to say ‘NO’: Proverbs 19:27 says, ‘Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.’ Do not think that if you say ‘NO’ then it will affect your friendship. If it affects, let it affect. You can win back that friendship again. But if you listen to a wrong influence then later guilt will keep on tormenting you forever.
- Stay away: As it is written in 2 Timothy 2:22, ‘Flee also youthful lusts.’ Many times it is difficult to say ‘NO’ and at this time fleeing away or staying away from the situation or bad friends is always better. Proverbs 3:7 says, ‘be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.’ 1 Timothy 6:11 says, ‘But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.’ Keep the good influence on always, which will help you to stay away from evil influence.
“Studies indicate that youth with strong family ties tend to rely less on friends and more on family members for advice and guidance; those without strong family ties tend to rely more heavily on friends to provide self-esteem.”
So, young friends! My earnest request is keep the relationship with your family members so strong that you won’t have to rely on your friends while taking decisions. Please involve them in your business. Remember! You are precious for them.