From TOS Schoolhouse Support e-newsletter dated March 2009
Peer Pressure. Just the thought gives me the willies (whatever those are!). I have enough pressure coming from my own expectations, let alone other people's expectations of me. How I behave under pressure is not always pretty, either. I can become frustrated and angry when I don't meet my or other's imposed expectations. It becomes even worse when I have expectations of my children to perform like others. They'll never meet everyone else's standards, and we shouldn't desire them to. The eternal standards we should desire our children to meet are those set by the Word of God. The academic standards should be individualized for each child to help him achieve excellence in all he does, where he is, not based on where others are.
There are actually two kinds of peer pressure: negative and positive.
Negative peer pressure is the kind of pressure from outside influences that causes us to want to conform to this world. It is especially difficult to resist this pressure the younger you are. That is one of the beauties of home education. There is little pressure within the home to conform to the world's standards. In fact, quite the opposite. Training children up within the home setting avoids nearly all negative peer pressure. Instead of conforming to look like, act like, or speak like the world and do the things this world deems valuable, there is value placed on each child because he knows he is his Father's son and lives for a different world and set of standards. Beware of negative peer pressure even within your church's youth or children's programs that try to look like, act like, or speak like the world.
Positive peer pressure is the kind of peer pressure that happens when we allow our children to see good, Godly examples of what it looks like to be a child of God and a person of excellence. Knowing like-minded homeschooling families is a big plus. Our children see that there are other children living up to the high standards of God's Word and succeeding, thereby causing some needed encouragement for our child to conform to the Word of God as well. There are times when I have looked around at homeschool friends and have seen desirable character traits that I might have neglected teaching my own children and begin to start working on with mine. Or I have seen academic studies that might benefit my little schoolhouse, and I have adopted those ideas, too.
Whether negative or positive, all pressure should be brought before the Lord as we seek His guidance for ourselves and our children. What are we supposed to be doing? What is our reasonable service? His Word gives us the answer:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:1,2
By God's mercy,
Deborah Wuehler is the wife of Richard, homeschool mother of eight beautiful and challenging children, and the Senior Editor for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
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