Measuring Influence on Our Children

While parents have the opportunity to be the greatest influence on their children's lives, this doesn't always happen.

image Consider the following:

When mothers take a job outside the home, "the time they spend in primary child care drops from an average of 12 hours per week to fewer than six" (Robert Evans, Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with the Crisis in Childrearing , 2004, p. 72).

Pediatrician Berry Brazelton says that "for parents raising young children a combined total of three hours per day is the minimum" amount of time a child needs from his or her parents (ibid., p. 78).

The typical amount of time a working parent spends with his or her young children is about 30 minutes per day (ibid.).

A typical father will spend less than three minutes per day alone with a child who has reached his or her teenage years (ibid.).

On average, American youth watch 1,500 hours of television per year. They spend 900 hours per year in class at school and less than a hundred hours per year in one-on-one activity with a parent. They see 20,000 commercials per year (Norman Herr, Ph.D., The Sourcebook for Teaching Science: Strategies, Activities, and Internet Resources , 2001, "Television & Health").

"When our kids are exposed to the same influences, without much supervision, and are generally not guided to interpret their circumstances and opportunities in light of biblical principles, it's no wonder that they grow up to be just as involved in gambling, adultery, divorce, cohabitation, excessive drinking and other unbiblical behaviors as everyone else. What we build into a child's life prior to the age of 13 represents the moral and spiritual foundation that defines them as individuals and directs their choices for the remainder of their life" (George Barna, "Parents Describe How They Raise Their Children," Feb. 28, 2005).

To have more influence on your children, look for ways to spend more time with them. Consider eating dinner together every evening and discussing the day's activities. Preparing the meal and cleaning up afterwards also provide opportunities for conversation. If you are going to watch television, do it together so you can verbally challenge and discuss ungodly thinking or actions.

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