A Parent's Influence
Courtesy of BattleCry.com
“He never listens to me.” “I try and I try, but she never does what I ask.” “We try to be good parents, but we never really know if we are getting through to them.”
Do you think that it is impossible to raise your kids to be everything you want them to be? Are you ready to give up trying to influence them? Do they even know you exist?
You may think your young people could care less about what you have to say, but current research suggests that parents have a lot more influence than they realize. Not only are they listening, but more importantly, they are watching you closely and modeling their lives after you. Whether you believe it or not, parents are the biggest influence in their teens' life.
Several studies point to a parent’s ability to shape their kids in lasting ways.
Part of parenting involves being present in a child’s life, especially during critical milestones like key birthdays, getting their driver’s license, and dating their first boyfriend or girlfriend. These rites of passage are important to most teens, and one study revealed that a parent’s inactivity or absence during those times made teens more likely to create their own moments by participating in risky behaviors such as drinking, drug use, early sexual activity, and dangerous driving.
The reverse is also true. For teens whose parents were involved during key moments, not only were teens less likely to participate in those same behaviors, but teens were also happier people.
Other interesting findings illustrate just how important parents are, especially Dad. Swiss researchers discovered that if Dad faithfully attends church, even though Mom doesn’t, kids are still 44 percent more likely to keep going to church as adults. But if Mom goes regularly and Dad never shows up, only 2 percent of the kids continue to attend. That’s a very big gap, and a telling sign of why the father’s influence is so significant.
From his own experience, Curtis Burnam, a youth minister with 20 years of experience, agrees. “Kids who are taken to church by Mom but not Dad are harder to keep in church. They tend to drop out at higher rates when they reach adolescence. They are also harder to engage when they do come to youth group. This is true for girls as well as boys.”
When it comes to kids, parents should do more than keep them in church. Meeting their children’s spiritual needs goes beyond attending church and must be a priority for every parent. Dr. Janice Crouse of the Beverly LaHaye Institute explains, “The relationship that parents establish with their children determines – to a very large extent – their outcomes. If we, as parents, don’t feed their souls, they will seek to fill that emptiness with drugs, alcohol, or sex – or they will turn to the dozens of other ways teens mess up their lives by seeking a parental and faith substitute.”
She’s right. According to a report from Child Trends and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, parents with strong religious beliefs who communicate and explain them to their kids play a big part in preventing early sexual behavior. The research also showed that going to church as a family, being part of a church denomination, and having friends with the same beliefs who attend the same church help to keep teens from being sexually active.
Children are gifts that God has entrusted parents with to faithfully care for. How they rear their kids will deeply impact their lives. This is especially true for fathers. But regardless of being a mom or dad, it isn’t easy to raise children to be godly adults. Here are some practical steps you can take to be an effective example.
Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Ever since they are little, kids watch their parents like a hawk. They know when you are telling them to “Do as I say, not as I do,” and they don’t like it.
Strive to not set a double standard for children, but live by the same standards and rules you expect your kids to live by. When parent’s live godly lives, their children will be more likely to follow God because they will follow their parent’s example.
Listen to your teen. This takes more than just hearing and involves paying close attention and genuinely caring about what they have to say. If teens do not come to their parents for advice or support when they face difficult situations in life, there’s usually a reason. Most likely, it is because the parent is not a good listener.
Consider James 1:19 (NLT) which says, “…Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Often, young people simply need to talk and express their frustrations, questions, or concerns. Solving their problems or jumping on their faults and mistakes simply adds more stress to the situation. When they are ready for advice, they will ask for it. Until then, show them that you care for them by listening.
Realize that you impact a lot of teens beyond your own. In a society where nearly half of marriages end in divorce, countless teens lack the godly parent or role model that they need. God’s heart breaks for these young people. Psalms 68:4-6 says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…”
You have an incredible opportunity to fulfill that role in the lives of your teen’s friends. By simply welcoming them into your home, giving them some food, and listening to what they are going through, you may change the life of someone who has never experienced the unconditional love of a parent.
PR Newswire, AgapePress, Horatio Alger Association, Pastors.com
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Article reprinted with permission.
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