Parental Influence

   A federally funded study of 12,000 teenagers yielded an unexpected finding: teenagers still need their parents. It may seem to us that everything we say goes in one ear and out the other, but the fact is--according to them--parents play a significant role in their lives.

   The study revealed that teenagers who don't smoke, drink, have sex, take drugs, or commit acts of violence, refrain from doing these things because of two basic factors:
1. Feeling loved by their parents.
2. Feeling comfortable in their school.

   The research also found that if parents expect adolescents to get good grades and refrain from sex, teenagers tend to be influenced by those expectations. What's more, the study showed that it doesn't matter about the family's income, or their race, or whether both parents work, or whether there is only parent at home--the most significant factor in well-balanced teenagers is that they recognized their parents are emotionally available to them.

   Now, all parents claim to love their children, and I'm sure most parents do. But not all parents effectively communicate love, and not all parents make themselves emotionally available. So the question is not how much parents say they love their children, the question is how much their children believe it--and how much evidence there is to support that belief.

   Sociologist Michael Resnick says that the most crucial need for teenagers is a strong sense of connection to their parents and their family. This connection, more than anything else protects teenagers from behavioral problems.

   The Bible also suggests that parents remain emotionally available to their kids. 4000 years ago, Moses wrote...
"Keep these words that I am commanding you in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise." (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

   The Bible teaches--and this study confirms--that parents have a responsibility to be emotionally available to their children. Parents can't live the lives of their children; neither can they become so wrapped up in their own that the children are crowded out.


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