Let’s Hear it for Positive Peer Pressure

Our son is blessed to attend a rare school where it is not considered cool tofriends behave like an idiot. It’s a rare environment these days where the kids know how to have fun, but the focus is on achievement. Some days he and his friends actually wear suits and ties just to look sharp. They already have a uniform dress code of polo shirt and pants, but they are allowed to wear suits any time. It’s a positive peer pressure thing. When Will was a freshman, he saw the older male students sometimes wearing suits, so the younger guys imitated them.

I think it’s sad how often anything interesting in a young person gets stamped out by the hordes in schools these days. Christian schools are no exception to this. It is a unique faculty and school leadership that can foster excellence and an atmosphere where good grades and doing well is admired. It takes committed families and a vision by leadership to be different.

It may not seem like a big thing, but I would add that having had students in private and public schools over the years, the dress of both faculty and students is important. If teachers want to slouch around dressed like overgrown adolescents and try to impress the kids with their relevance, they will find that the exact opposite happens. Will’s teachers behave and act like adults. His favorite teacher is a tweedy, bearded historian and professor who also teaches at a local university. He’s a walking encyclopedia of history and a master of his subject matter. He has respect because he makes no pretense at being anyone other than himself. He is an expert. Kids know he is the real deal, and they admire that. Additionally, he is an excellent male role model for the young men.

I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Resist peer pressure.” It’s funny how the assumption was that the only kind of peer pressure is the negative kind. But positive peer pressure is just as real. The challenge is to find places for our kids where the positive influences dominate.

Will had a friend over one night recently. Tom and I were upstairs when suddenly music sounded from below. We both couldn’t believe our ears. We heard the sound of piano and…singing? Beautiful singing from a tenor voice! Will was accompanying his friend on the piano as he sang, Caro Mio Ben”. The friend had brought over the sheet music for Will to play for him. He said Will’s music interests had inspired him to take voice lessons again. The world is a more beautiful place because of it.

I love to see teenagers swim upstream against a culture that worships ignorance and moral chaos. Anything we can do to help our young people develop their interests and gifts and ignore the braying of the celebrity icons is a good thing. They, and the rest of our society, will be the richer for it.

11 thoughts on “Let’s Hear it for Positive Peer Pressure

  1. #1 says:

    Bravo!! When you state these things in Christian circles you are often called a legalistic. Your article expressing it as “positive peer pressure”is excellent

  2. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    Obviously not every parent has the same ideas and goals for their kids, and there are certainly enough schools that don’t have these values—in fact, they are the majority of them. So I figure if I can put up an alternative view, it doesn’t hurt.

  3. Lori Glass says:

    Great post. It reminds me of what I heard Elizabeth Eliot say on the radio once. The term teenager was a recent invention. Years ago you were a young man/woman and expected to act like one. None of this sowing your wild oats stuff and rebellion. Your son’s school sound’s like a good one. I love hearing and seeing stories about good kids. I wouldn’t be afraid to walk past the 3 boys in the picture. We have some in my town that are kind of scary.

  4. Carolynn says:

    We see this kind of good peer influence in our son’s 4H where the kids are competing and doing something they are passionate about. Given the present climate I think the kids have to get away from the school environment to find it though. When it’s a sport or hobby at least you are with kids who share the same interests and don’t think it’s uncool to care about something. I’m glad you brought this topic up.

  5. Cindy says:

    Awesome article. I substitute teach for public schools and it is discouraging to see how disrespectful students have become. In some classrooms it is so bad, I don’t think anyone is learning. I appreciate seeing that there is hope! Wish there was a school like the Will’s around here. He is very fortunate to be able to attend a school that actually is about learning and making the most of oneself.

  6. Beverley says:

    I am in total agreement with all previous comments. The Proverbs in God’s infallible Word informs us of the consequences of negative vs postive peer pressure.
    Although many parents are in the midst of grieving over way-ward children, we can rejoice with those who have chosen the ‘narrow road’. I am very blessed to hear of these young men!

  7. Lisa Green Kentala says:

    Wonderful post and comments. My husband has always said the type of friend a boy has indicates the type of boy he is. You are right – unfortunately we tend to think of peer pressure as a bad thing! One thing I will say positively about public schools – my son attends a high school that accepts students from outside the area if they score high on the entry test. Because he is in accelerated classes, his classmates are – for the most part – smart kids and not goof-offs.

  8. Bobby says:

    Wonderful. I saw the difference between parochial, “college prep” gov-school light, and Full Public Schools. Students in “gov light” are rude and targeted me from Day One because I supported the idea of stringent dress codes and academic excellence. When kids wear tee-shirts and shorts to school today (wasn’t legal then), they are showing no class. Girls started it, then boys plead their case to dress like girls.

    Now the standard is no dress code anywhere. The rude kids were rude to the point I was shocked at their attitudes. A school change was no better.

    School types matter. See the kids in government schools at church and they have ragged dress, and are the problem today. The positive peer pressure of parochial schools and serious teachers such as the one Will has is a must. Wished I had that in my time. Wonder why it takes me until college, church, and even taking an adult jazz dance class to have more solid friends.

  9. Carol says:

    Amen, Ingrid. Since the young people began using the “peace sign” back in the 1960’s it was a sign of behavior going in a negative direction. The symbol is actually a symbol of rebellion against God and all that He stands for and teaches in the Word. It is an upside-down broken cross used by those practicing witchcraft and the occult to mock the sacrifice of Jesus. It is a symbol of the work of the enemy of our souls who desires to kill, steal and destroy, and it has nothing at all to do with the peace of God, absolutely the opposite.

  10. Kris says:

    Good to see. Little do they know, no doubt an influence to the students now in 9th grade. Kudos to the school for making sure there are still values in the generations to follow us.

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