Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Parenting, Peer Pressure, and Drug Abuse

Parenting and Prevention: Preparation Helps Resist Peer Pressure and Drug Abuse

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Teach young adults how to lead, not follow, their peers.

Daniel was one of four children of Israel chosen by the king of Babylon to live on the king’s diet for three years.  He faced peer pressure, too- -possibly fatal. Yet he held firm to his religious health code. How can we help our children say no to drugs?

The temptation and pressure Daniel faced was real. It was surely an honor to be chosen, as a second-class citizen, to participate with princes of the kingdom. Worse, he was good friends with the chief eunuch who was conducting the program. The eunuch feared he would lose his head if he contradicted the king. But Daniel was confident. He asked for ten days to use his own diet of simple food, and water instead of wine. His request was granted, and the king observed that the four young men did indeed prove to be healthier and wiser than their peers.

What can we do to help our children make the same wise choices? For years, the Center for Addictions and Substance Abuse has taught that children who eat dinner with their families abuse drugs less, are healthier, and do better in school.

It’s really as simple as it sounds. Obviously, daily meals prepared at home are more nutritious than fast food gulped down while on the run. But there are other benefits. Studies show that strong parental example weakens negative peer influence. The more your children interact with positive adult role models, the more they will act like mature, responsible adults themselves, and the less they will be influenced by confused, unhappy peers.

Example is certainly reinforced by word or precept, but what can you say that won’t sound like preaching? Try stories about epic heroes. By telling parables, Jesus taught his hearers how to make wise choices using principles of self-government.

The story says that “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself”. (Daniel 1:8) Many successful parents have taught their children to decide beforehand that they will not defile their bodies—that they will abstain from addictive substances and keep themselves morally pure. Then when the moment of decision is upon them, they are better prepared to withstand peer pressure. Dinner topics might include a discussion of the epic hero Daniel, as well as role playing possible dialogue that might arise. Discuss ways your young adults can decline in a polite, kind, or even humorous way, as Daniel was able to respectfully adhere to his principles. Often your children will find that peers respect them for their courage, and are enticed by positive peer pressure. If your children hold firm once, they are empowered to do it again.

There is yet another powerful benefit. The story relates that “in all matters of wisdom and understanding” Daniel and his friends excelled, far beyond even the king’s adult magicians and astrologers. (Daniel 1:20)There is a principle upon which this blessing is based. Those who keep their bodies pure and undefiled are better able to be guided by the Holy Spirit. They are thus happier individuals who go on to provide a stable environment for their own families.

Copyright © 2011 by C.A. Davidson 

C.A. Davidson is author of Epic Stories for Character Education, a collection of scriptural epic stories told in easy, dinner-talk style. Daily dinner topics help parents teach young adults how to lead, not follow, their peers.  “Dinner Topics for Epic Heroes Journal”  may be found at

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