Our Influence is Our Choice
If you want to learn how to get skinny when you’re fat, it’s a good idea to get advice from a skinny person who was once fat. When I realized I was fat I got advice on losing weight from a formerly fat person. If you want to learn how to make money from nothing, then going to someone who inherited a fortune early in life is not the best idea. Rather, you should find someone who started with nothing and became successful. If you want to get out of the bad neighborhood you are growing up in, or get away from the drug game, or start a business, or get into a good college, then you need to find mentors who have done that exact thing. Taking college tips from someone who never even graduated college is not wise. Taking business advice from someone who has never owned a business is not as smart as taking advice from someone who has started many businesses. If you want to become a better Christian, find someone who is mature in their faith to learn from!
We are taught that, statistically, we will end up in the same socioeconomic circles our parents are in. When I talk to people about the American dream often they want to have more than their parents and have it faster. In other words, they want to climb the next rung of the socioeconomic ladder. For me that was pretty confusing. I have lived a wealthy lifestyle and a poor lifestyle. I have lived in great neighborhoods with multi-millionaire families, and I have lived in the basement of my mom’s friend’s house who was willing to take us in. I saw my parents spend lots of money and at the same time rarely spent time inside a restaurant with me. I had a unique perspective into many different worlds and lifestyles.
A lot of things were confusing growing up. I was the product of a divorced household. It was all I knew. My father left when I was a few weeks old. I never really thought much of it until I was older. Nowadays, I look at my kids think of my kids when they were three-weeks-old and wonder to myself, how could anyone bail on this? But, growing up it was just what I knew. Both my parents remarried. They both remained in my life. I went back and forth with custody. Spending weekdays with one parent and weekends with the other. I barely lived with my siblings. I say all this because by the time I was old enough to know that it was not a normal life – I knew I never, ever wanted that lifestyle for my kids. I knew I wanted one wife, a few kids, a great life. I knew it would happen. I had a few outside examples of how to keep a marriage together. I knew enough that to be married for a long time you need to do what people who have been married a long time do. That is what I focused on. I sought out people who were living the way I wanted to live and adopted their techniques.
How and Why We Are Influenced
Every person on the planet is susceptible to influence. Russells are certainly no exception. If we become so high and mighty that we begin to think, “Not me, I’m not susceptible because I am evolved, I am sophisticated, and I am intelligent” that is when we will really get into trouble.
Let’s think about how influenced we really are. In Psychology 101 we learn about self-fulfilling prophecies. The basic premise is that when you are led to believe something you otherwise know little about then your mind will believe it and look for opportunities to confirm that belief. Some examples:
Advertising is another huge example of how susceptible to influence we are. If we see it and hear it enough, we fall for it. Advertising repetition has huge effects on being influenced, processing decisions, and recalling information.
How about the influential political motives? Politicians and biased news media influence mass decisions daily. Politicians have perfected the art of influencing people to agree with things they would have never agreed with previously. Taxes are a great example of this. Our country was founded fleeing from taxes. We revolted because of taxes. Some taxes became necessary for a small government to exist, but the people of the United States still hated every April 15th as the day they had to write a check to the United States government and every American kept their government on a short leash because they felt the pain of writing those tax checks. Then, the politicians got smart.
“Why don’t we do payroll deductions?” they said, “Then we can take too much money out of every paycheck and give it back in the form of a refund!”
Nowadays everybody looks forward to tax day and they don’t care how much the government took as long as they get a check on April 15th. Now the masses don’t even care to keep a close eye on the government! A big reason why small business owners are usually the ones fighting against taxes, is because our taxes are not taken out every paycheck like a normal employee. We set them aside and write a huge check on April 15th. So we still feel the pain and want the massive waste of our hard-earned money to stop.
Parents Must Be the Primary Influence
Whether you believe it or not, the fact remains that we are incredibly susceptible to influence, and kids are even more so. That is one of the main reasons why kids need their parents to be a positive influence! We mold our children from the day they are born until the day we die. Especially in the early years, mom and dad are forming lifelong habits, morals, and values for the kids. Because we are such a major influence, we as parents must bring a consistent and unified influence for the good of our children.
It is my responsibility to be absolutely honest with my children. If my children were to discover that I was lying to them then everything I have taught them or will teach them will be for nothing. Because if you lie to them once they will question everything you claim to be true forever. I know first-hand that trust between a father and a child once broken can never be fully repaired. We must admit when we goof. It is better to say, “Daddy messed up when I did _____________. I’m sorry. This is what I should have done.” This will establish the bond that I am there for my kids and even though I am not perfect, I am going to do what is best for you. Kids are sometimes more perceptive than we give them credit for. You must realize your words and actions are under constant scrutiny as your kids watch and learn from you.
It is the parents’ job to teach children. Not the daycare, school, or even their peers. In every single aspect parents need to speak into their kids’ lives. Teaching our kids morals, values, and integrity is the foundation to this lesson. Everything going forward will reflect on your firm values, firm morals, and firm integrity. I say firm to say it is etched in stone and unwavering. When we lay down a foundation based on our morals, values, and integrity we are building a fence that lets us know when we have gone too far. It is good to write these down. If you can’t write them down, you really need to spend some time in thought and prayer. If you cannot organize them on paper, how could you possibly teach them? You have not even defined them yet! Writing them down will provide a physical reminder and something you can look back on as the years pass. They are the cornerstones to your life and how you raise your kids.
Write it down!
This will help you create a framework for how you teach your kids.
We all live unique lives with all sorts of twists and turns. Nobody can predict what will come our way. But if we have our foundation and framework set in stone we have a tool to look back on when we face difficult situations.
Our ultimate goal as parents is not to raise awesome kids. We do not want to raise children. We want to raise awesome adults. All of our teaching and molding is to create a happy, productive adult that will be able to take care of his or herself and raise an awesome family. We need to think about how our parenting is affecting our kids 10, 20, 30 years down the road. Not just in the next five minutes.
It is on us as parents to:
1.) Educate ourselves so we have the knowledge to educate our children.
2.) Teach our children how to become successful adults by consistently correcting, guiding, and rewarding.