Kids (3)

More than 20 years ago, my husband and I were blessed to work in our church’s teen ministry. We wanted to help spiritually guide their thoughts as they attempted to navigate this thing called life. Back then, the challenges they faced were unlike anything even I had dealt with. School pressure, peer pressure, even internal pressure brought a realm of circumstances somewhat unfamiliar to me. In many ways, I didn’t think I could relate. But then I remembered a significant turning point in my own teenage life.

4 Powerful Skills to Help Your Teenager Handle Peer Pressure

In this article:

  1. Firmly refuse negative group behavior
  2. Combat lies with the truth
  3. Walk away when provoked
  4. Communicate effectively with adults

I was an 18-year-old freshman at Michigan State University newly transplanted from my island home of St.Thomas. The only person I knew in the state was an old college friend of my aunt’s. Eager to make friends, I decided to join the school’s track team. One night after practice, my teammates decided to go out to a club. Doesn’t sound like a big deal right? Well, clubbing was not my thing. I simply had no interest. But the pressure from my teammates to be a part of the group along with my internal pressure to avoid being an outcast was powerful. I decided to go.

I reluctantly returned to my dorm room, got ready, and went to join my teammates who were already waiting in the cab. As they waved at me to hurry, I started running down the hall toward them. Every step was like dragging a block of lead and each felt heavier than the last. I got in the cab and off we went. Now, to this day, I think my cab driver was an angel because he started talking about making sure we had the proper ID or we couldn’t get into the club. Apparently, my student ID was insufficient. We had only driven a few blocks away from my dorm and I told him to stop. I got out, sent my teammates off and practically skipped back to my dormitory. I returned to my room that night and vowed never to do anything I don’t want to do ever again.


Firmly refuse negative group behavior

Fast forward 13 years later and I now have the chance to mentor teens facing pressures far worse than going to a club. Peer pressure tactics were a hundred times worse and it was all kids could do to make it through the school day unscathed. Interestingly, regardless of the issue, negative behavior started as the brainchild of one individual and worked its way through a community of students who feared being left out. Sound familiar. Whether it’s 1989, 2009, or 2019 the pressure to be a part of a group is markedly embedded in the minds of teenagers everywhere.

Working in the teen ministry, I realized it didn’t matter if you were a preacher’s kid or the son of the devil. Everyone wants to fit in. Twenty years ago, I served teenagers. Today, I have two teens of my own. Black ones. Male ones. Talk about pressure. Their demographic is constantly under attack. Teach your kids the importance of non-conformity. It gives them a strong sense of self and confidence in their own way of thinking. It won’t be enough to thwart off every negative group behavior, but it’s a great weapon to have in their arsenal when those moments arise.


Combat lies with the truth

One of the reasons kids easily conform is they have nothing else to stand on when faced with peer pressure tactics. If a dominant person says bullying is fun, others conform to that way of thinking because they don’t want to be the one being bullied. Peer pressure instigators usually apply heavy-handed tactics that start with a lie. Well, it’s either a lie or a fear.

  • “No one will like you.”
  • “Don’t be a party-pooper.”
  • “This will be fun.”
  • “You’re the only one…”
  • “You won’t get in trouble.”
  • “Everybody’s doing it.”

Whatever they think will break your resolve, they use it. Arm your kids with answers…truths…to all of these lies. Then teach them how to effectively, and firmly (see point one) refuse to participate under pressure.


Walk away when provoked

As a self thinker, your son or daughter may become a popular target. It’s sometimes hard for group thinkers to believe that someone would willingly remain outside the circle. As a parent of one or more teens, you will have many chances to demonstrate what it means to be patient and to walk away when provoked. Teens test you. If you are going to ask them to be patient and walk away, then you better teach them by example.

They want more than your lip service. When they see you practice what you preach, it makes them a believer. Even though it doesn’t always seem like they’re listening, they are observing.


Communicate effectively with adults

One of the most important elements of tackling peer pressure is teaching our kids how to effectively communicate with the adults in their sphere of influence, particularly you. Sometimes, when they can’t talk to you as a parent, they might seek a surrogate. It’s important to raise them in a village with adults whose values align with your own. Oftentimes, however, teens don’t quite know what to say or how to openly talk about the issues they are dealing with.

This too is a skill that is better off demonstrated than preached. Talk to your kids about age-appropriate issues you are dealing with. Ask their opinion. Get their thoughts on the challenges you face. When you share with them, they are more likely to share with you. If they can effectively communicate with you, their chances of bowing to peer pressure decrease a thousandfold.

As adults, when we are facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, we like to say “the struggle is real.” For teens, the “pressure” is real. For me, it was just going to a club. For your teen, it may be drugs, bullying, or sex. But, if you arm them with the right tools, they can make it through these intense years and onto adulthood with fewer scars than most.


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Halloween is right around the corner. In our family, we don’t exactly “celebrate” this holiday, but we enjoy some of the more fun aspects of the occasion. Aside from the sugar rush, roasting marshmallows by the fire, hoarding candy, and spending time with friends has no downside. But many Christian families are turned off because of what the holiday represents. Without getting too deep, the historical significance of Halloween is rooted in the fear of ghosts, evil spirits, and mayhem. Whether your family goes all in for the holiday or just takes advantage of the social engagement that comes with it, this is a great time of year to pray for our children to be protected from evil spirits and mayhem. Here are five biblically inspired prayers to cover your children from spiritual attack.

5 Biblically Inspired Prayers to Cover Your Children from Spiritual Attack


We all want our children to make wise choices. But before they can do that, they have to be taught how. There are so many things in this world fighting to influence our kids. Deuteronomy 11: 18-21 teaches us how to guide them and what we must do to protect their hearts and minds from bad influences.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NIV) Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, there are so many things clamoring for my child’s attention. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to let in and what to keep out. Please give me wisdom to guide my child. And please allow me, second only to you, to be there strongest influence in this world. Help us to have a great relationship so they will hear your word through me and make wise choices. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Once we are able to influence our children, it’s important they learn to believe that God’s word is true. Pray for them to not only listen to God’s word but to believe and do what it says. That kind of belief starts with you.

Mark 11:22-24 (NIV) “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray my child will grow to believe in you. Help me to set a good example of faith that they can follow. I pray they will see you through me. I pray their faith grows stronger every day and they will choose to live like they believe. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



Even though we believe, it’s still hard to trust sometimes. Though they are often fearless, pray for your children to have unconditional trust in God.

Philippians 4:6, 19 (NIV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, When everything around my child goes crazy and they are tempted to doubt you, I pray they will trust you unconditionally. I pray they will not be afraid or worry. I pray they will rely on you without fear. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Image and Self Worth

Once our kids enter those teenage years, they are often bombarded with worldly images that draw their attention away from God and onto themselves. Pray for your child to see themselves in the image of God and to love themselves the way God made them. Pray they will value the gifts God has given them and not live their lives in comparison to others.

Psalm 139:13-14 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for the child you have blessed me with. I pray they will see themselves in your image. I pray they will embrace every part of who they are and love themselves as much as you love them. I pray that even if they are tempted by the images they see in the world, You will give them the strength to choose to be made and remade into your image every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Living life to the full

When our kids have direction, belief, trust, and a positive self-image, they can’t help but live life to its fullest. Pray that in an effort to live a full life, they will seek ways to serve God and others in the process.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for helping my child to embrace your word. I pray they will seek you, seek ways to serve you, and find ways to serve others. I pray you will grant them success in all they do. In the times when they lose their way, I pray they will pursue you once again and find you. I pray they will hold firmly to your word and never leave you. In Jesus’ name, Amen!


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My daughter is now 10 years old. This means in eight years she’ll be off to Spelman College in Atlanta to become the best she can be at the best HBCU in the country. I remember announcing on this here website that her mother was pregnant. Oh, how time flies. While my daughter can go wherever she wants—and I will be fine with whatever she decides to do with her life as long as it’s what she wants to do—if you ask her right now, she’ll tell you Spelman. Look at gawd.

This means I need to make her HBCU-ready. Or at least make sure she ain’t like waaaaaay too many folks I know who went to HBCUs who weren’t up on various parts of the game. It was quite illuminating. One thing that I learned at Morehouse College is that even though it’s a black school, so many of our experiences were vastly different. I know we are not a monolith but you’d think some things translated across the African-American diaspora. Well, since I’ve found that to be untrue, I will ensure that my children are prepared to not be outsiders to any of the more standard facets of black culture so that there will be no blackness shaming up in nobody’s dorm as niggas break out the decks of cards. Here are seven black-ass things I will make sure my chirrens are up on.


1. How to play Spades

My kids will not be the ones who don’t know how to count books or even understand how the game is played. They will know how to play Joker-Joker-Deuce-Deuce, know proper Card Slap Etiquette and how to score. Basically, one weekend a month, my home will be a Spades camp. Feel free to send your kids if you don’t know how to play. I will accept cash or money orders and I’m not going back and forth with you niggas about it. Also, Uno.

2. How to do the Electric Slide

At no point will they be outsiders at weddings, funerals, cookouts, family reunions or random warm, sunny days on the yard. Where there are two or more gathered in the name of blackness, a line dance is threatening to break out.

3. The significance of Frankie Beverly & Maze’s “Before I Let Go”

Black staple. Call it the Urban Swingline. See what I did there? My chirrens will know how to bust out the Electric Slide to this song AND KNOW this means its time to go at the club, or it’s time to really enjoy yourself at the cookout. But most importantly, they will know the best time to unleash the song. Dracarys! Do you see what I did there?

4. Cameo’s “Candy” for the same reason as “Before I Let Go”

And because Beyoncé really does care about the people, she put them both together in one song so everybody can win at the same damn time. By the time my kids are in college, presumably at HBCUs, I believe Bey’s version will be the pre-eminent version.

5. At least the whole first verse to “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”

I know maybe one person who knows the entire second and third verses of this song. Most of us just hum. But anybody making you sing past the first verse is a masochist anyway, so as long as they have the first verse down we Gucci and I’ve done my job.

6. The black classic movies

Brown Sugar, Coming to America, The Color Purple, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, The Best Man, Boomerang, Boyz N The Hood ... I could keep going. There will be watch sessions of them all. Multiple times. Won’t be nobody talking about, “YOU HAVEN’T SEEN LOVE JONES!” to my kids. No siree, Bob.

7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

This will happen. Because it must happen. Because it will always be one of the most important books ever. They will also read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and pretty much as many of the books on my black shelves as possible.

I know there are as many different ways to be black as there are black people on the planet. But my kids won’t be deficient in any of the aforementioned ways dammit.



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