What Do You Do if Your Teen Has No Real Christian Friends?
Most young people have two sets of friends – their church friends and real friends at school. They hang around their church friends every week because their parents drag them to church, but those are not people they would choose to be around normally.
Parents pass it off with, “Well, these kids may not be radical Christians, but they are good kids.” The problem is that a lot of “good kids” get in a lot of big trouble. The power of friendships and peer pressure among teenagers is something most parents don’t remember and struggle to identify with. We hear about peer pressure, but we don’t understand much of the tangled web of relationships it weaves.
Researchers have found that teenagers pick friends with a similar age, sex, sexual experience, and academic and cultural orientation. Most teenagers place great importance on their friendships. About 62% of high school seniors surveyed say it’s extremely importantly to have strong friendships. Teenagers spend more time with their friends each day than they do with their families.
Nine out of 10 teenagers say they experience peer pressure, and fewer than half of them say they try to stop peer pressure. The Teenage Magazine Reader Survey also found that 80% of young people give into peer pressure at least once a week, and 60% admit they pressure others.
As you can see from the statistics, the opinions young people listen to most are those of their peers. So the question is, what peers does your young person choose to be around? Many parents feel totally helpless, as though they have no influence over their teenager’s friends. This is simply not the truth.
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
If you want your teens to be wise, get them around wise young people. If you let them hang around fools, they will end up suffering harm and their life will be worse because of it.
You might ask, “Just because their friends are not saved, does that mean they are fools?” Psalm 53:1 says, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” If they are not Christians, or are carnal Christians, ultimately they are going
to do some very foolish things with their life because they have no reason not to. They have no moral strength, and they have nothing guiding them greater than themselves.
As parents, we must do everything we can to influence our kids to be around wise young people. I am not talking about those who are straight-A students. I am talking about young people who are wise in how they use their free time, how they spend money, and how they develop relationships and friendships.
Church youth groups can be helpful. Since peers exert so much influence, a group of “good kids” could push our teens in the right direction. This is where church youth group and other Christian youth organizations come into the picture. They can provide Christian friends, a wholesome atmosphere, and solid content.
Some key concepts to consider:
- Relationship. Become a “peer” in your young person’s life. I’m not suggesting you act like a teenager and try to fit into the adolescent world – that would be foolish. But it is possible to build an open, influential relationship by doing things together, talking, listening, and accepting them as emerging adults.
- Dialogue. If you want to steer your kids toward the right kind of friends, you must open channels of communication. Show genuine interest in them and their activities and spend time just talking over.
- Open Home. Let your kids know your home is open for their friends. Instead of condemning their peers and pointing out their faults, invite them to dinner or some other social opportunities.
You are going to hear comments from your young person like, “All Christians I meet are weird. I can trust my non-Christian friends more than I can my Christian friends.” And despite that perspective from your teen, those are young people who passionately love God with all their hearts. Those are the ones you need to find a way to get your teen around. The question is, how?
First of all, diligently search until you find an incredible youth group or youth ministry for your person to be a part of on a regular basis. Scour your city for the right church. I’m talking about a group of young people who are motivated, going after God with their whole hearts.
Secondly, take your young person to every kind of Christian youth activity you can find. Some parents find something their child really likes and then begin to use that as punishment if they do something wrong. “You can’t go to youth group tonight because you did that,” or “You can’t go to summer camp because you did such and such.”
Little do parents realize that they are cutting off the spiritual growth of their young person as a penalty for what they have done wrong. There are plenty of other things you can use as a means of correction without having to take them away from the things of God.
Getting your teen around a group of young people long enough to really develop friendships means letting them go on retreats, to camp, to conventions, and on missions trips. It will help their walk with God. It will help them gain real friends who really love God.
Do not settle for the fact that you have always gone to that church, the youth group is good enough, and Pastor Joe is an okay youth pastor. For the sake of your young person, their walk with God and their survival as a Christian, do whatever is necessary to make sure they are constantly around young people who really have the fire of God.
You might say, “Well they have to stand strong in a secular school, so shouldn’t they learn how to mix well with unsaved people?” Most of their life they are going to be around unsaved people. Right now is the time, in the formulating stages of your teen’s life, for them to stay around as many on-fire young people as they possibly can. Your teen will only be a teenager once.
Teen Mania Ministries |Ron Luce