The power of parenting

Posted: May 19, 2005 12:00 AM
Editor's note: columnist Rebecca Hagelin can be heard today on Focus on the Family, hosted by Dr. James Dobson, discussing her new book, Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture that's Gone Stark Raving Mad.  Focus on the Family is heard on 3,500 stations nationwide and 5,000 internationally in 163 countries. Below is an excerpt from Home Invasion.

The Power of Parenting

Whether you are happily married or raising children on your own, whether you are a father or mother or a grandparent who is filling in the gap, you must realize the tremendous power you have as one who "parents." You must also understand that the advice you give your children - whether good or bad - will be remembered.

Your power to influence your family's attitudes about the culture should be seen not as a burden but as an innate quality that is always active. You must never, ever forget that it is impossible to choose inaction on your part in the arena of influence. A decision to go with the cultural flow - a decision on your part not to fight the culture, to stay away from the conflict and take the easy route, to just lay low- does not negate the influence you have on your children but results in your influence being a negative one. A decision to not make a decision is still a decision. Inaction, in itself, is an action.

In other words, you are not a neutral force in your household; your action or perceived neutrality is a force that will shape your home and the personalities, choices, morals and values of your children for the rest of their lives.

Think back for a moment on your own childhood. What are the first memories you have of your parents? If your parents were abusive and selfish, you've probably spent most of your adult life trying to work through all the hurt and pain, trying to get beyond the misery and feelings of betrayal, so that you can give fully to your own children.

Or maybe you come from a family where you knew your parents loved you, but for some reason, they were distant or not active in your life. Maybe you didn't always feel protected from the outside world, maybe you suffered a few hard knocks because they were too busy or too distracted or maybe even too timid to get close to your world and the pressures that surrounded you. You may still be filled with feelings of immense sadness and loss because you were cheated out of the God-given right of every child: the right to have a parent who is intimately aware of the details or your life.

Or maybe you are one of the very fortunate, the most blessed. You came from a happy home filled with unconditional love. You had rules to follow and knew your boundaries. You had parents who were involved in your life, who taught by example, who were there for you, and who showed you there were right and wrong paths to be chosen in life and that each has irreversible consequences.

Now, ask yourself: which type of parent are you?

There's no question in my mind that every single person reading this book wants to fall into the third category of parenting described above. We all instinctively know that being that kind of parent will spare our own children - and spouses - much pain and sorrow.

So be that kind of parent.

Today, more than ever, it takes a real commitment to decide to be the mamma or the daddy - to determine that you will take control and be the one that permeates your home with tangible, unconditional love and sets uncompromising standards for yourself and your kids.

Far too many parents today have morphed into a fourth type of parent, the one who thinks that they have to be their child's friend. Oh, there's plenty of love and understanding and loads of fun and games. But when it comes to rules, to setting down the law, to standing up for standards and expected behaviors from your child, many parents today are sorely lacking.

Moms, Dads, your kids don't need you to be just another friend. They need you to be their parents.