Children under the influence; parents or peers?

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2008

Some of the most detrimental words a parent can ever hear would are, "Mr. and Mrs. _________, your child has been picked up for DUI (driving under the influence)."

I have been thinking about the influences, positive and negative, upon my two girls.

The question is, what kind of influence do we as parents have, and what kind of influence do others have? Parents are definitely the biggest influencers, but that changes as children get older.

A blog over at by Tim Stevens displays an unscientific survey of online connections and friends. He found that key influencers have a crossover, from parent to friends, around the age of 14. I suspect that this is very close to the truth, perhaps more so for girls than for boys.

"Environment matters," Stevens said.

I could not agree more and if you wait until they are teenagers to start massaging the environment, you have as much chance of success as a fat red running the Russian River gauntlet. But don't give up. You might need to head for the safety of "deeper water." Here are some recommendations that Stevens gives along with some of my own.

* Get involved in a church with a youth group and youth leaders.

* Be proactive with options especially in middle school.

* Be proactive with school influencers. Know them by face and name, student, teachers and administration.

* Become involved as a volunteer in your child's activities.

* Find opportunities to have them hang with godly young adults. Having some godly young adults living in our home has worked very well for us. The key is godly.

* Teach the joy of serving at a very young age.

* Place them into spiritually intense environments, i.e. summer camp, youth convention or especially mission trips.

* Be in total control of the car keys.

* Pray for your children before they go out the door.

It was shortly after 7 a.m. and the strapping young high schooler stood at the door patiently waiting. I listened with as much attention as possible to the older minister. Don't ask me what he said. His son continued to stand at the door and wait.

May the Lord forgive me if I ever consider this father/minister as being out of touch and living in a time warp. When the father was ready, he moved to the door and laid his hands upon the boy praying God's best for him. That boy is the youngest of six highly successful, intelligent offspring. What his mom and dad passed on to me was that prayer is the most powerful influence you have to offer. Use it liberally and effectually.

JD Duncan is the pastor at Peninsula Christian Center in Soldotna. For more information, call 262-7416 or e-mail

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