Providing a Catholic framework on the truth and meaning of sexuality, love, and family

Parents Take Heart! You Still Have the Most Influence

by Candi Cushman

One thing that hasn’t gotten much news coverage these days is the fact that—despite the constant swirl of Facebook networking, Hollywood propaganda and public school messages—kids are still most heavily influenced by mom and dad.

Take for instance, a recent report from the Pew Research Center, revealing that “95% of all teenagers 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites.” The report goes on to explain that, along with the many social and informational benefits of the online world, come the bad influences: A full 88 percent of teens using social-media sites have witnessed mean or cruel behavior on those outlets, and “44% of online teens admit to lying about their age so they could access a website or sign up for an online account.”

But the encouraging news is “that parents are still the top source for teen internet and cell phone users”—with 86 percent of online and cell phone-using teens saying they got advice on how to stay safe online from parents. Fifty-eight percent reported that their parents “have been the biggest influence on what they think is appropriate or inappropriate when using the internet or cell phone.”

Parental involvement also translates into outcomes like better academic performance and saving sexual activity for marriage. In fact, research tells us that one of the top reasons teens give for abstaining from sexual activity is their parents’ influence.

The moral of the story? Parents never underestimate your power! Despite all of cultural messages telling you that you’re too out-of-date and behind-the-times to influence your children—it’s just not true. The reality is that parents are the ones who are closest spiritually, mentally and emotionally to their children and the most in tune with their needs. It’s the calling and role God has planned for parents since the beginning:

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22: 5-7

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

So how can parents best use that influence?

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