11/3/13: Enjoying The Ride Of Your Life! (Part 4)
On Sunday we completed our ride down the Middle School Rapids by navigating the treacherous “Relationship Riptide.” In this class we talked about two dangerous “currents” that sweep through the Middle School years — fear of man (peer pressure) and cruelty (bullying).
Following The Crowd. Peer relationships tend to assume greater importance to a young person during the pre-teen and teen years. We find ourselves more influenced by the interests, opinions, and approval of our peers than we are by our parents. When parents react self-righteously or ungraciously to this tendency, the rift can grow even wider. And yet a relationship with parents, even though imperfect, is a solid shoreline offering safety from the riptide of peer pressure. Kids need their parents more than ever during these years when the fear of man is such a common snare (Proverbs 29:25).
Fighting The Current. Bullying is another common current during these years. Like cute, fluffy yellow barnyard chicks that will peck a weaker sibling to death, kids at this age can be surprisingly cruel. “Fashion bullies” torment others about the brands of the clothes they wear. Students pick on each other relentlessly at school, whether physically or verbally. Asher Brown, a small 13-year-old boy attending 8th Grade at Hamilton Middle School in Texas, was repeatedly bullied at the beginning of this school year…and responded by taking his own life. When I asked for a show of hands in the 12:13 class, many students indicated that they had been bullied in one form or another. Talking about this ugly aspect of the Middle School years provided a wonderful opportunity to talk about love — the crazy kind of love that prompted our Savior to lay down his life, not just for his friends but also his enemies. With God’s help, these students have incredible opportunities to fight the current of cruelty and love those around them — friends and enemies alike — with a crazy, cross-centered love.
Next Sunday will be devoted to small group discussion about Peer Pressure. The students will have lots of time to talk with other kids in class about how peer pressure affects them and how they can resist it.
Click on the links below to see the teaching notes and handout from this week’s class. By taking even 15 minutes during the week to review this information with your kids, you dramatically increase the odds that this truth will take root in their hearts. Thanks for your partnership in the gospel!
FOR DISCUSSION WITH PARENTS:
- Describe a recent example where you were tempted to “follow the crowd.”
- Can you think of a time when you chose not to follow the crowd? How did it feel?
- Which matters more to you – the approval of your friends or the approval of your parents?
- Why would Mr. Somerville call the love of Jesus “crazy love”?