We all want it. We may not say it in such blunt terms, but we all have a desire to leave our mark on the lives of the people we come in contact with. To have the opportunity, the ability, the power to help people make better decisions and lead better futures. All because they were influenced by our words, our actions, our lives.
If you’re a parent, you already have influence. More influence than you probably realize. Your influence is greater than that of the most powerful advertising agencies, it trumps the latest pop stars, and singlehandedly is stronger than the combined power of dozens of people.
Where do you have this kind of influence? With your kids.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy did a study asking teens who it is that has the greatest influence on their decisions about sex and relationships. Here’s what they had to say:
8 out of 10 teens say that it would be easier to avoid early sexual activity and teen pregnancy IF they were able to have more open, honest conversations about those topics with their parents.
Over half of young adolescents say parents most influence their decisions about sex.
Fifty-nine percent of teens consider their parents to be role models of healthy, responsible relationships.
Only 24% of teens cite their friends as most influential.
Yet when parents were asked who they thought had the most influence in their child’s life, they overwhelmingly cited friends over themselves.
When did we as parents begin to lose confidence in the role we play in our child’s life?
You DO have influence.
They are listening to what you say, watching how you live and making their decisions based off of that. Even when they’re angry, moody and being an all-around normal adolescent, what you say and do does make a difference.
Do not be afraid to talk about sex, your views on dating, or the importance and value of marriage. Will you do it perfectly every time? No. No one does (myself included). But I would rather say something imperfectly and start a dialogue, than say nothing at all and leave a child to figure it out with the help of their friends and Google.
You have an incredible opportunity, no matter how old your child may be (you never stop being a parent!), to be speaking truth, life, and hope into their world.
What they do with that information will be their decision. But you may be surprised to find they actually listen. Why? Because you have influence. Influence that others-advertisers, organizations, politicians, educators- would love to have over your teen.
But it’s yours. So do not give that up, do not hold back. Push forward boldly this season with the confidence that you are making a difference every day in the lives of your kids.
That is where your greatest impact will be made and where you will leave your legacy.
What are you doing with your influence? How are your words and actions shaping your kids? Are you leading them towards a better future? Are you having the hard conversations, the uncomfortable conversations, so that your voice will be heard?