Nix the Cliques!
Written By: Judy Berry

This story is about trying to prevent one of the most difficult situations a young person can face.  Peer pressure is one thing.  And wanting to be accepted is another.  But a clique, in its worst sense of the word, can be devastating for some child or youth who feel they don’t fit in.  Let’s break it down and then try to do something that will help our youth understand and decide for themselves what is right and what is not.

First of all, we must realize that cliques start early.  I’m not talking about high school, or junior high, or even elementary school.  I’m talking really young.  If you’re around very small children, you will notice the tendency for two or three to gather together, wanting to be with only those and saying “no” to any others.  Whether verbally or through body language, they make it quite clear that no one else is invited and please don’t try to interrupt us while we’re playing!   I know this sounds humorous, but it’s true – we “group” ourselves early.  There’s nothing wrong with being a part of a group – in fact, every child needs to feel a part of something.  The thing that’s wrong with this is the exclusivity that starts – innocently enough- but it does begin very early in every life.

Nothing could be much worse in my mind than being a parent of a child who is shunned at school because he or she is not bright enough, doesn’t wear the right clothes, has a different color of skin, stutters, is clumsy, isn’t athletic, and the list goes on.  How do we avoid the problem with our children and teens regarding groups or cliques?  How do we instruct our children to not be mortified if they’re not included?  But more importantly, how do we teach our kids about NOT being a part of a clique that can absolutely destroy the self-confidence and well-being of another?  There’s some religious teaching that can apply here – I just feel it.

Jesus said “Let the little children come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”.  Being included is one of the best feelings I can think of and it doesn’t just have to do with school kids.  Companies forget to include, as do organizations, churches, offices, social clubs, neighborhoods, and more.  There’s no better way to say this – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  Seriously.  Pour yourself into the role of one being excluded, and decide how it feels.

May we teach our kids the kindness of being inclusive of others, of not shunning or ignoring, and let’s make sure they understand why they’re being asked to learn this lesson.  Jesus included EVERYBODY in his group.  People others could not stand to be near – tax-collectors, fishermen; if Jesus stuck up for the shunned, then He truly was following His own Golden Rule. Encourage your children to make a place for everyone.  No one shunned, or belittled, or excluded – but included – just because. They are children of God, as are we all.

Father, I pray that we can help our young people explore the negative concept of forming or being involved in self-absorbed cliques that sometimes cruelly exclude others.  Let our young people understand and enjoy the benefits in their hearts when they concentrate on making others feel the best they possibly can feel about themselves. We all need to pay attention to those around us – open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts to those who seek to be noticed and welcomed.  Amen.

 “The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance.......the Lord does not look at the things that man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”   1Samuel 16:7

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