When Jimmy and Laura Seibert first became parents, they knew they’d have to face the reality of peer pressure, even at an early age. Laura recalls their days as college pastors counseling students through wounds they had experienced years before that were still affecting their lives in a significant way. Peer pressure can be damaging if kids aren’t prepared to stand alone, knowing you’ll always have their back.
“Peer pressure is powerful. Everyone wants to be loved and fit in; at times I still struggle with that as an adult. But we believe living a ‘normal’ life will not change the world,” explains Jimmy in chapter ten of Parenting Without Regret. “Anyone who commits to radically following God will feel abnormal.”
Because Jimmy and Laura recognized the powerful influence friends can have on the lives of children, they set out to create a safe environment at home, in which their kids knew they were loved and supported. Laura explains that both she and Jimmy experienced the negative effects of peer pressure growing up. “We saw firsthand the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:33: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ As a result, when we started raising our own children, we committed to doing whatever we could to help them develop positive friendships.”
From the beginning, Jimmy and Laura committed to knowing and investing in their children’s friends, even when it meant extra time and attention. Laura remembers feeling tempted to clean or read when her kids had friends over at the house, but instead of using the time for herself, she often took the time to listen to how they were playing and stepped in when necessary, especially during the early years.
“There’s no way any parent can control every detail of life, or should even try, but we chose to pay attention to whom our children spent their time with and where they were. This was a significant time investment for us, but sparing our kids the wounds that so deeply affected us was completely worth it,” explains Laura. The answer was not to control, but to listen and support.
In Parenting Without Regret, Jimmy tells the story of his ten year old daughter attending a birthday party sleepover. He received a call from his daughter a couple hours into the party asking if he and Laura would come and pick her up to spare her from an uncomfortable situation. Jimmy and Laura left right away to pick up their daughter and apologized to the parents for having to pick up their daughter so early unexpectedly. Yet they knew it was worth supporting their daughter, so she knew they’d be behind her no matter what.
“Training your kids to deal with peer pressure is important, even though it may lead to rejection. It requires courage to walk away and be willing to sit alone,” writes Jimmy. Sometimes this means helping your children set boundaries and preparing them for rejection, while simultaneously providing love and support. Friendships are important, and can be both a positive and negative influence in children’s lives. Choose to invest early and train your children to have a positive impact on those around them, rather than be negatively impacted, causing scars and wounds sometimes years down the road.Read Laura and her husband Jimmy’s book Parenting Without Regret to hear more stories, practical advice, and Christian insight into the seemingly daunting task of parenthood. You can purchase the book on our website or through Amazon.