Another school year is starting and with it comes fresh adventures and new challenges for our children. I think we share particular worries as we face a new academic year: will my child like his/her teacher, the homework battles are about to begin (more about homework strategies here), balancing after-school activities with an already busy schedule, etc.
However, I think our children face an even more significant challenge at the start of every school year: peer pressure.
“Fit in” or follow Christ?
Peer pressure starts at a much earlier age than we actually think and is not exclusive to high school or teenagers. Peer pressure comes in many shapes and forms and is not limited to cigarettes and drugs. It is the pressure our children feel to act like everyone else around them, the craving to “fit in.”
The question is, do we want our kids to “fit in”? Do we want our kids to behave and think like everyone else, or do we want our children to behave at school as they do at Church on Sundays? Do we want them to be “cool” or to follow Christ?
Let us think about it another way:
Are our children Christian only on Sunday, at Church or are they Christian every day of the week and even at school?
The desire to be part of a group, to “fit in”, to be accepted, is not in contradiction with our Christian faith because Christianity is not an exclusive club. On the contrary, our children are called to be, as we are, a light of the world. Their behaviour can and will influence other children in their classes. Their love for God will inspire other children or, at the very least, will make other children curious.
But how do we equip our children for a world that has become less welcoming of Christ and Christianity?
“Fit in” or follow Christ? Help your child face peer pressure at school.
A Helpful Tool:
I wanted to provide a potential answer to this question when I set about to write Philo and the Faithfulness SuperHoly (the fourth book in the series Philo and the SuperHolies). The book tackles this challenge by placing Philo when his regular support system is not available to help him. Philo is on a camping trip (away from his parents) with cub scouts (not his church friends) and debating whether to read his Bible (what he usually does) at the risk of being mocked by his friends.
This is a simple example of the decisions that our children must make every day in school because “fitting in” is so much easier than “being different.”
So how do we help our children overcome their worries about being different?
- Remind the child of how loved he/she is by our Lord.
- Explain to the child that she/he is a Christian above anything else, even if it is not “cool.”
- Encourage the child to imagine that school extends from the Church. Would he/she act this way at Church?
- Explain that some actions/words are not appropriate for a child of God and that she/he is a child of God.
- Encourage the child to share with you any challenges they face: is there someone who makes fun of them if they mention Church or God? Help them navigate this situation without getting preachy but by remaining loving towards everyone.
Philo and the Faithfulness SuperHoly was written because I believe we need to encourage our children to be proud of their faith. I don’t mean that we teach them to brag about it. I mean, they should never be ashamed of being Christian or of acting Christian! The book can help you start a conversation with your child.
Questions to jump-start a conversation with your child:
After reading the book together, here are some questions that you can ask your child to get the conversation going:
- Philo was worried that his friends would make fun of him because he had his Bible. What do you think about that?
- Do you remember ever feeling embarrassed about Church or our faith like he was?
- Do you think Philo handled the situation well?
- What would you do if you were in his place?
- Why do you think his friends were interested in the Bible story after all?
- Do you ever worry about sharing your faith with your friends at school?
I pray that this new academic year is blessed for you and your child.
Other articles you might enjoy: War and Peace – The Homework Battles
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