Peer Problems

Confident teen girl Heading to Class
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A teen's peers can challenge your child to do better and grow, or they can hurt your kid through giving and taking away their friendship, bullying or even rebellious behavior. Here is how some parents have helped their teens through this difficult relational time: 

Losing a Relationship

One of my daughter's best friends suddenly ended their friendship. Although my daughter didn't know the reason behind the loss, she wrote a letter of apology, seeking forgiveness and restoration. The letter went unacknowledged — the friendship was unsalvageable.

During my daughter's grief, I encouraged her to remember the good parts of the friendship and reminded her that friends must desire restoration for it to occur. I helped her process the stages of grief, as if a death had occurred, offering affirmation and encouragement.

—Candy Arrington

Risk Unpopularity

Lynsey earned a lead in her high school play. During the first rehearsal, she discovered that her character would have an affair with a married man. Since adultery violates the Ten Commandments, Lynsey explained her convictions to the director and relinquished the role. Her peers ridiculed her decision.

Lynsey's father, Paul, stood by his daughter's decision and told her, "If you choose to follow Christ, you're going to risk being the unpopular person, but there may be a friend or two who later look back and remember your courage for Christ." On the play's closing night, one friend quietly told Lynsey, "I respect you. I was uncomfortable with this play but didn't have the nerve to say it."

—Brenda Nixon

Characteristics of a Toxic Friend

  • Is possessive and jealous
  • Puts other friends down
  • Gossips
  • Encourages secrecy and destructive behaviors
  • Lacks a sense of give-and-take
  • Discourages time with family
  • Doesn't practice healthy conflict; fights dirty

What the Bible Says About Friendship

  • 1 Corinthian 15:33
  • Proverbs 13:20
  • Proverbs 22:24-25
  • John 15:13

—Tammy Darling


The compiled article "Peer Problems" first appeared on FocusOnTheFamily.com (2016). "Losing a Relationship" first appeared in Focus on Your Child Teen Phases, February/March 2008. "Risk Unpopularity" first appeared in Focus on Your Child Teen Phases, May/June 2007. "Characteristics of a Toxic Friend" first appeared as a sidebar in the February 2014 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
"Peer Problems" compiled article copyright © 2016 by Focus on the Family. "Losing a Relationship" © 2008 by Candy Arrington. "Risk Unpopularity" © 2007 by Brenda Nixon. "Characteristics of a Toxic Friend" © 2013 by Tammy Darling. Used by permission.

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