A Weapon Against Peer Pressure

3:18 PMHeather

After a fab lunch with a friend (YAY for girlfriend time!), I tuned in to Dave Ramsey like usual as I sat in car pool line. I thought I had the wrong station, until I realized Dave had a guest speaker, Craig Groeschel, who just released a new book entitled Weird. It caught my attention, to say the least. Sounds like a book I need to read. Yes, because I'm weird, but also because it's about how we, as followers of Christ, should be striving to be weird. If we are striving for normal, then we are not choosing God's narrow path. He offered a quote he's heard which stopped me in my tracks--"Where family identity is strong, peer pressure is weak. Where family identity is weak, peer pressure is strong."

A-ha! A weapon for fighting peer pressure! What every parent needs. So, I've been thinking. How do you build a strong family identity? How am I doing on this? What does this look like? I am really chewing on this. Here are my thoughts so far.

1. Family Values. I think the core of a strong family identity is centered on strong Biblical principles. This means being intentional to teach, train and discuss Biblical values with your kids. I don't think I can ever do this well enough! But, I think this looks like family prayer time, family Bible time, discussing and applying and quoting Scripture in day-to-day situations. It's stopping to pray with a child or as a family in the middle of a struggle or praise. It's intentionally praying together for the needs of others. It's serving together on mission trips or service projects. It's clearly defining what pleases the Lord. I cannot brag on my husband enough for the way he has undertaken this task with our boys. They go on camp-outs together, taking time to create a family crest, symbolizing the traits that "Enright men" stand for. Even better? The boys see integrity in a father who teaches them about Godly character. THAT is where family values take root-- where your children SEE you practicing and working on the things you are teaching them. Of course, this is the HARDEST part for me! Being the person I want them to be....

2. Family dinners, family dinners, family dinners. A Columbia University study released in 2005 found that "teenagers who eat with their families at least five times a week are more likely to get better grades in school and much less likely to have substance abuse problems." Despite the ever increasing technology designed to make our tasks easier and quicker, we are busier than ever. But, taking time to sit and eat together is obviously an important ritual. I can remember my best friend in high school, Amy, and how her family ate dinner together every night at 6:00 p.m. Without fail. No matter what. It was a sacred time. If I was at her house, that was the time to leave. Nothing else happened at that time. Now, I am not saying we have to be that rigid--life requires flexibility. But, guarding your family dinners requires being intentional. Make it something your kids can count on--a time to give each other your attention and chat about your day. It's the stuff of parent-child connectedness, as Dannah Gresh discusses in Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl.

3. Family traditions. YAY! This is probably one I do better than others, although obviously, teaching Biblical values SHOULD be what I do best?! I am a traditions girl! I love nothing more than our Love Day for Valentine's, our breakfast in bed for the birthday person, our half-birthdays, Good Friday service, summer time at the beach, our Thanksgiving with family, Journey to Bethlehem, Christmas Eve church service, Christmas with MORE family.... Then, there's the more day to day traditions. There's Wednesday night Dad time for Cooper, girls' nights with Caris, Friday night Star Wars, the Clone Wars watching for the boys, Friday morning donuts, and restful Sundays after worship. And, traveling--one of our most favorite traditions. Traditions create a rhythm to our families and tie us together.

4. Celebrate. Tying in with family traditions are celebrations. They generally go together--but celebrations are so fun, I thought I'd give them a number all their own. Celebrations, of course, have to do with holidays, but here I am more specifically talking about the celebrations of little things. It's dinners out for good grades, or a bacon and egg breakfast on a big test day. It's Sonic Happy Hour because it's FRIDAY--or because there is NO homework! When our oldest was taking Tae Kwan Do, passing a belt test meant a trip to Burger Box. The only win in the basketball season merited a special lunch at La Hacienda. There's all kinds of reasons to celebrate with Yogurtland or a Slurpee. Wow, I've just reread this paragraph, and I've just noticed...apparently celebrations mean food at our house? Hmm.....

5. Family language. I am not suggesting that you devise your own family language as in pig latin or like the viral video of the talking twins, speaking in a language all their own. I am talking about those phrases and inside jokes that are unique to your family. When I was a little girl, my dad had nicknames for me and my sister. (and my nick name is a tightly guarded secret!) We had inside jokes, usually born from shared experiences. With my own kids, we say we love each other to the moon and back. When I tuck Caris in at night, I ask, "Where are we meeting?" This means she picks a place for us to meet up in our dreams, such as Sweet and Sassy or the beach. It eases her bedtime blahs. And, if any of us say to each other, "you tiny!" or "watch for the naked stalker!" we all crack up. You really had to have been there. Night check means picking up the house before bed, and P.O.D. means parent on duty. Those last two are both borrowed, by the way, from our friends Amy and Taylor--hey, thanks guys! Another part of our family language is how Chris and I crack ourselves up (and frustrate our children) by quoting movies or breaking into song based on a word or phrase they say. At dinner last night, Collin was talking about running the mile against the wind. Yep, this led to us singing Against the Wind. [insert children's eye rolling here]

6. Team mentality. All for one and one for all. Working together on chores or in the yard, helping each other when one family member needs it--it creates a team mentality. It's going together for any family member's spelling bee, choir performance, soccer game, basketball game, or any other event. We sometimes huddle and pray, or huddle to discuss the plan for the day. Chris is great about rallying the kids to help get the house ready for hosting an event. When my kids go off together, they know they are to look out for each other. We are a team. God placed us together, and He means for us to get each other's back.

INTENTIONAL challenge: I consider it one of those divine appointments that the 10 minutes I got to listen to the radio included this great little insight about family identity. Oh that I might do this job well! There is so much I can and must improve upon. But, at least I have a direction to go? What are your ideas about building family identity? I'd love to hear them. I'm sure I'll have time to read your comments right after night check and choosing a meeting place with Caris.

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