When you were a kid, your parents hopefully raised you to the best of their ability. They taught you the difference between right and wrong and tried to set you on a path to make good decisions. They dedicated 18 years to making sure you were raised right. ..and then you go to high school. It’s like the moment a boxer steps into the ring after years of training.
As a teenager you have to make many new decisions, and the majority of them will involve peer pressure. Many times we find that even though kids are raised right and taught well that they still continue to make bad decisions. Part of it is just a teenager’s curiosity and the adrenaline rush of breaking the rules for the first time. But when it continues happening it goes beyond that and the question arises, “What really causes teens to constantly make these bad choices.” (Choices I’m talking about are things such as disrespecting the opposite sex, constantly talking about sex, drinking, smoking, skipping class, etc) I believe the biggest reason for this is peer influence. Our society has become more and more “group” oriented, where kids have a group of friends that they regularly hang around with. Usually the group has their own likes and dislikes, their own views on certain individuals, and creates their own rules of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Sometimes those things are good, other times they aren’t. The problem is teens perceive fitting in with their friends as more important than always doing what is right. Their peers’ acceptance is more important to them than making the right decisions. So the struggle comes when one of those teens in the group starts to feel differently about something that has turned into a “norm” in the eyes of its members. Teenagers never want to be that guy. They don’t want to disappoint their friends, and many are scared to stand up and tell the others how they really feel in worry of being made an outcast.
Teens are not afraid of change. They are afraid of being the first to change. No one likes to take the first step forward because they are afraid no one will follow. Have you ever been in a class where a teacher is teaching something completely wrong and everyone knows it but no one wants to be the first to say it? Everyone is worried that they might look stupid, ..but then one brave sole finally steps forward and everyone immediately responds. It’s the same way in life. Most of the time friends are all aware that they are doing something wrong and they probably should change but since everyone else is doing it, it must be ok. Usually we think to ourselves, “If I say something and they don’t feel the same way, I’ll look like an idiot.” We are afraid how others will react. So ultimately the true reason why most teens make bad decisions is not because they didn’t know it was wrong, but because they’re scared how their friends will react to their feelings. Thus, when we encounter teens who are struggling, we need to find out what REALLY is the source of the problem. We shouldn’t assume it’s a problem with knowledge, but maybe they just need the courage to stand up for what they believe in.
The type of friends you have has a big impact on your life and who you are. The choices that you make are greatly influenced by the people closest to you. You need to think about who you hang around with and what activities result from spending time with those people. And if those activities aren’t helping you become a better version of yourself, then you need to consider what’s more important. If you decide that it is time for a change, I pray that you have the courage to step forward.