When we think of peer pressure, we generally think of teenagers who are trying to fit in and be accepted by their class mates. Parents are at their wit’s end to try to mold their children’s minds to accept the fact that they don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, especially when they know that their peers are sometimes bad company for their beloved offspring. At primary school this is also a problem for the youngsters, who feel left out if they are not doing what the others are doing.
It is not always so easy standing up to one’s peers, whether in elementary school, high school, or any group for that matter without some form of conflict. Of course, if one is a bully, well that is another matter. Then one can exert an unpleasant influence and control on others and that can have terrible consequences, both for the bully and the bullied.
It is always worse when adults use their influence to control others. I have seen someone, let’s call her Kate, control some of her colleagues by making scurrilous remarks about another person in the group she didn’t like. Why she didn’t like Jane (not her real name)? Jane was not gullible and not to be taken in easily. Jane had an easy-going manner, not easily ruffled, never huffed and puffed and not given to slander. She showed up her adversaries, without quarrel or ridicule. This made the control freak mad and if any of the others made any remark in support of Jane, they were likely to be insulted, have untruths spread about them and sometimes ostracized. This was not one child disliking another, but adults in a work situation.
As colleagues, they were forced to work together. So it was not always easy for Jane to get away from her tormentor(s), but she handled it differently from others who came to feel the wrath of Kate. On several occasions Jane would quote from the Bible to silence her critics, not necessarily as an answer to a gibe, but sometimes as an illustration of some point. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord, when one person wanted to take revenge on another. And again in James 3:8 “no human being can tame the tongue – a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
Neighbours, too, can wield an unhealthy influence and pressure on their counterparts.
“I suppose you taking Tommy to Disney World now his exams are over?”
“His daddy has to decide.”
“But everybody I know taking their children. You can’t let the boy feel left out.”
“You talking as if Orlando is San Fernando, just twenty miles from here.”
That night Tommy’s father will hear why it might be a good idea to take his son to Disney World..
“Hilda, (jokingly) when you changing this old furniture set? nearly everybody on the street has new living room sets”
“So I have to do what everybody on the street doing?”
“You know how these people like to show off and make it look like you cheap”
“What make you think I care what these people think?”
That night after Hilda’s neighbour leaves, she begins to think that perhaps she should really get a new set for the living room. She didn’t want to appear ‘hand-to-mouth’, that is, worse off than anybody else.
Although most of these people go to church, they are more concerned with what their neighbours say than what the Bible says. Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”