Paul, a father of five, noticed one day at the family dinner that his oldest, 14-year-old Angela, was upset.
So, at the first opportunity he asked her kindly but pointedly:
“Angela, what is upsetting you? Are you feeling okay?”
“It is nothing, Dad…”
But Paul knew better, so he pressed, “Come on my dear, what is the matter? There is something bothering you, and I want to help.”
Angela trusted her dad, so she quickly gave in, saying,
“It’s school…It used to be nice, but now…it’s…it’s…horrible!”
“How so?” asked the concerned father.
“I feel pushed to do what I know is not right, I’d like to do the right thing but, at the same time… I hate displeasing people…” concluded Angela.
“Oh my dear, that’s called peer pressure. You see, God made us social beings, and that’s a good thing. We are called to live in society and bond with our fellow human beings. But there is a down side to this social instinct when we feel that to get along with a particular group, we need to agree with everything they say and do.”
“That’s it! That’s how I feel. Did you have that problem when you were my age, Dad?’
“Oh yes, peer pressure goes back centuries… It is as old as the Old Testament.”
“And how did you deal with peer pressure, Dad?” asked Angela.
Seeing he had Angela’s full attention, Paul settled deeper into his chair.
“Well, here is a little lesson I learned from my wise mother. It is pretty simple and it works. But it takes determination and courage.”
Angela was all ears.
“You take two pieces of paper and you make two lists. On list A you write the names of the friends in school that you can say NO to. On list B you write the names of the ones you can’t say NO to.”
Paul continued, “Once you have your A names and your B names, you make a DECISION to only associate with those on list A, and you only begin associating with the people on list B once you feel strong enough to do so–not before.”
And Paul added:
“As simple as this seems, it will still take courage and humility…courage to do it and put it into practice: and humility to admit that you are not strong enough in yourself and in your Faith to deal with those on list B. Sometime in the future this may change, but for now, stick to the plan. It works!”
Angela thanked her dad, a slow smile spreading across her face.
“I…think…I can do that!”
And skipping dessert, she went straight to her room to write her A and B lists
Contributed by Bernadette