No matter where your child goes to school, he can learn to be a Daniel.
No matter who your child’s peers or friends are, there will be peer pressure. Whether your child is in homeschool, private school, church school, or public school, there will be peer pressure. We see it, not only in families and churches but in society at large. It is a part of life, and pretending that it does not exist is one of the greatest detriments to our families.
Dave and I chose to have our children in public schools in our county. This worked for us because of the community and county in which we lived. It might not work for you, and it might not be what you choose to do. No matter where your child goes to school, he will likely run into a conflict – either with an adult or a fellow classmate – at some time during his education. Even if he is homeschooled, he will experience peer pressure in church, sports, or other social events. That’s the way our enemy works.
The principles of teaching our children to be a “Daniel” are true no matter how we choose to educate our children.
As we teach and train our children, we must constantly measure our instruction with God’s word. Is what we are teaching plumb with His Word? Is the bubble right in the middle or it is off to the side? Our measure is His word and not those around us, even if they are family, friends, or church folks.
Our children are all we can take with us to Heaven. They are our greatest responsibility. How can we send them out into the world to be inundated with the philosophy of ungodly wisdom? How can we expect them to dare to be a Daniel when their peers are moving with the crowd? How does a parent train and guide a child as he/she makes decisions which could affect the rest of his life? How, especially, can parents ask their kids to be different from their cousins or church friends?
Every parent knows the scripture in Proverbs 22:6. “Train up a child in the way he should go [according to his bent] and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Training is More Than Protection
Training is a life-long process. The purpose of this process is to develop an understanding and conscience against evil and a desire to do good.
In our effort to protect our children, we often fail to recognize that protection does not make a person stronger. All of earth’s nature tells us that! Children who are allowed to get dirty develop a greater resistance to bacteria and germs than those who are sequestered away from normal childhood dirt. Children who have learned to face new situations adapt better than those who always have someone working out the wrinkles for them.
It’s true that we should never “throw our kids to the wolves”, but we can help them develop battle plans for when wolves are threatening to devour them. It’s true that we’d never want to push our child outside during a tornado, but we can help him learn what to do in the event of the threat of a tornado. The only way to do these things is to have our kids experience those maneuvers under our direction and supervision. By modeling for them and tutoring them, we are helping prepare them for dangers and pitfalls – and for life.
Sadly, some children and youth face peer pressure among their own church friends and youth group peers. It happens more often than most folks care to admit. Sometimes the pressure comes from uncles and aunts, and sometimes it even comes from leaders. It ought not to be so, but it happens.
Just because our kids are in church or in a Christian school does not guarantee there will be no peer pressure and no times when they might need to stand alone. Satan is alive and well. Why would we think he will leave our kids alone just because they are in church or in a Christian school setting?!
What Made Daniel Different
When Daniel and his Hebrew peers were taken captive to a strange country with foreign gods, they had a choice. They could give in to the king’s demands and eat what had always been forbidden by God, or they could offer an alternative and then be prepared to respectfully refuse and stand alone. You can read the story here.
Scripture tells us “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”
What happened to all the other “young men” who were taken captive? We don’t know how many were taken captive or if they were all in the same prisoner group. We do know that Daniel and his friends are listed here as those who took a stand.
Daniel and his friends could have used some peer support. What made them stand out?
They knew God’s law and what was required of them. They knew God was with them, even in this pagan land where the culture and language were foreign to them. They wanted to follow God instead of these pagan people.
I wonder if part of it was the training of their parents as well as their own developing faith and trust in God. I also think Daniel knew what God had commanded His people, and he wanted to follow those commands.
If I had been Daniel’s mother, I would have been so pleased. That’s the kind of son any mother wants to claim as hers.
When your child faces a situation where he must make a choice, there are certain steps you can take to continue that training process. You can help him learn to be different and to take a stand.
So what can we do to help prepare our children to find their way across the foreign territory and false teachings?
Seven Things to Do When You Feel Your Child is Being Tossed to the Lions
When your child faces a situation where he must make a decision or a choice, there are certain steps you can take to continue that training process. Your child can learn to be a Daniel, too.
- Get a correct grasp of the situation. This will involve talking with the adults (teacher/youth leader/coach) and possibly other peers as well as your child. Ask God to help you understand the situation as it really is.
- Help your child understand the situation. Ask his perspective. He might be too young to realize that what is being asked of him is not best or right. Discuss the issue with your child explaining what the Bible says. Take him to the Word! Your child will find it easier to argue with you than with God’s Word. Ask God to help your child correlate Scripture with what is being asked/required of him. When the son of a friend of ours was asked to do a paper on what sign he was born under, she took him to the Bible and showed him what God had to say about astrology. She asked him if he thought God would approve of this assignment.
- Discuss alternatives. This is what Daniel and his friends did. They recognized the king’s desire was for them to be in the best physical condition. They proposed an alternative to his plan (eating pulse and drinking water instead of the King’s food), then asked God to bless them and help them become as healthy as the king desired. The king granted their request and they were the fairest and finest in the land – proof that God can change the hearts of kings and bless those who are obedient to Him. Our friend’s son chose to ask his teacher for an alternative assignment and was granted it.
- Discuss the consequences of the decision he will make. No matter which way he chooses, there will be consequences your child may face as a result of his decision. [“What do you think your teacher/youth leader will do when you tell him you won’t be able to do this assignment? What will your classmates/friends say? What are you going to tell your friends about why you can’t participate in this activity/assignment?”, etc.] Being prepared for battles helps win the war. What if the teacher still requires the assignment to be done? What will you do?
- Do not run interference for your child. Allow him to do his own negotiating/reporting with his teacher/leader if he is capable. He will claim more ownership if he reports to his teacher/leader instead of having you do it for him. Encourage your child to discuss his experience afterward and affirm and encourage him. Just what was the response of his teacher/friends, etc.? Was it difficult to be laughed at and made fun of? How did he feel? Did he make the right decision? What might he have done differently?
- Be sensitive to your child’s developing faith and conscience. Your child may make a decision which you feel is not necessary. One of our children chose not to dress as a cartoon character one year because he didn’t feel comfortable doing it the same week as Halloween. While we ourselves had no problem with the activity, we never told him. We supported him and his developing conscience as he made that choice to be different from the rest of his class. Certainly, there was nothing wrong with his choice, and it helped grow him up.
- Recognize your responsibility for the spiritual welfare of your child. When necessary, exercise your authority. At times you might need to refuse permission for your child to participate in an activity because of your convictions despite the desires of your child or other adults who want him to participate. Even though the adults might be believers or even fellow church members, you are the one responsible for your child. Remember that.
As parents, we need to recognize that each child and each situation is different. There are no hard and fast rules to follow (except for, of course, following the commands of Christ.) Our focus on eternal perspective helps us as we make decisions regarding the souls of our children.