In our parenting seminars, parents often ask us questions that reveal their fears about the negative influence of media, culture, and peers on their children. This is a normal concern in today's crazy culture, but we answer their worry by telling them to be less concerned about "outside" influences and more concerned about their hugely significant roles as the primary influencers in their child's lives.
More than anyone else, kids of all ages are influenced and shaped by their parents.
The only time this influence shifts away from parents and onto other influences is when parents are either physically or emotionally absent. In other words, if you as a parent decide to "opt-out" of the parenting scene, then you can expect culture and all it represents to be more than glad to step in.
Research and social science studies support the fact that the parent/child relationship significantly impacts a child throughout his or her lifetime. The parent's role and involvement is essential to the child's development of emotional health, academic advancement, and making significant life decisions.
A recent study found that "a lack of parental involvement can have long-lasting negative effects on a child. Children who don't have a close relationship with a parent are at risk for teen pregnancy, more likely to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, and more likely to live a sedentary life. They are also more likely to be withdrawn or suffer from depression."
Your influence is the reason why you are such a big deal as a parent. This should be no surprise since children are very valuable to God.
Look how Jesus describes children: He [Jesus] took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." Mark 9:36-37 (NIV)
When you welcome a child into your life, you welcome Jesus. That's powerful!
And the writer of Psalms says: "Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him..." Psalms 127:3 (NLT)
God has rewarded you with the gift of a child -- a gift worthy of cherishing and one that requires your very best effort. You were called to be a parent -- it's a significant part of your destiny and life purpose.
Yet, sometimes as parents, we want to deny or downplay our impact on our child's life so that we can be let off the hook.
Look, we get it! Parenting is a huge responsibility -- your child's future is on the line. That's a lot of pressure.
But we'd like to suggest that instead of viewing your parental responsibility as something negative, you begin to see it as empowering. After all, among all the other influences in your children's lives, you are the one who has the ability to spend the most time with them. Not their friends, not the TV, and not even their cell phone. Therefore, you also have the most opportunities to instill your values into your kids.
So, if you long to be a good parent, and for your kids to grow up as successful and mature adults, then the first thing you need to do is to develop a deep conviction that your role as a parent is crucial. Believe that you --- your presence, your actions, and your words --- are vital to the health and development of your child. Believe that you are the most significant influence in your child's life.
Doug and Cathy have created two resources to help parents dig deeper into the important topic of becoming intentional parents. Find their Intentional Parenting DVD and Workbook by clicking here.