Influence your children by example – they’re always watching

“Although parents can’t ultimately determine the outcome of their children, they do have a tremendous influence on them.” – Scott Turansky

Recently, while flipping through a collection of old family photos, I realized how many people were a positive influence on my life.

It’s a fact that our actions and behaviors are often the direct influence of someone we revere.

For many of us, that influence comes from our very first teachers in life – our parents.

As children, we often take on the characteristics of our parents – not surprising given that our parents are the first role models we see when forming behaviors (both good and bad).

Our parents’ tolerance and biases; their likes and dislikes – all begin to influence the adults we’ll eventually become.

But perhaps where our parents’ influence is most evident, is most important in my mind, is on our socialization, and more explicitly, on the value we assign to relationships.

A post on the Vanderbilt University website regarding developmental psychology states, “You may not know it, but your day-to-day behavior, from the way you drive to the tone of your voice, is shaping the way your child will act for the rest of their life. Psychologists refer to this as the influence of parent socialization, the way children learn the behaviors and skills necessary to interact in their everyday lives.”

Lead by example

In its purest form, influence is nothing more than leading by example.

And it’s that example which provides our children with the understanding of compassion, humility, charity and respect as they begin to form relationships with others outside of the family unit.

My parents, perhaps unbeknownst to them, taught me those lessons in their everyday actions. Lessons such as:

  1. Taking care of your elders – both in sickness and in health
  2. To give of your time – even when your schedule is full
  3. To be charitable and kind – not just when it’s convenient

And the list goes on and on.

I suspect many of you were influenced by your parents just as I was. It’s their influence which has enabled you to offer unending love, compassion and kindness to your current relationships.

But now it’s your turn.

How are you influencing your children?

Will the example you’re portraying secure your care and attention when you grow old? Or will your example come full circle, leaving you alone and regretful as you near the later days of your life?

These are incredibly difficult questions to answer, but are easily remedied – right now, today in fact.

Brigham Young once wrote, “We should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see our children do. We should set them an example that we wish them to imitate.”