This week on the blog we’ve talked about being imperfect parents and how even imperfect parents need to focus their priorities on what matters most.

Two statistics help put this all in perspective.

The first reality is that parents continue to be the most influential voices in the life of their children right through the teen years.  You might think that friends landed at the top, or media, or school environment, or socioeconomic status… but you would be wrong.  As much as we think we have no influence, we have influence. According to Chap Clark’s research, here are the influencer’s in a teen’s life (and yes, they are in order):

  1. Parents
  2. Non-parental committed adults
  3. Non-parental non-committed adults AND peers
  4. Media, Ecology

So clearly, despite every indication from your child to the contrary, you still have influence.  Primary influence.  So do other adult voices.  Unbelievable? Believe it!

But the big question is – how do you leverage that influence.

In a study commissioned by Orange, The Barna Group discovered that only 49% of parents say they actually have a plan or goal for what their child will become as a person.  The other half say they simply do their best based on immediate needs. (Source: State of the Church and Family 2010 Annual Report).

But it makes you wonder, even among parents who say they have a plan, how well thought through is it?  If someone was to ask them four or five questions about their plan, would it hold water?

That’s kind of why Reggie and I wrote Parenting Beyond Your Capacity and started this blog.  We wanted to help families develop a plan around leverage their influence and creating a plan for their chidren’s moral and spiritual formation.  You might come up with a better plan or a different plan.  That’s great! (Seriously).  It’s just that we believe having a plan is better than not having one.  And having one that leads somewhere is even better.

So let’s cap off the week with three little questions:

  1. Do you have a plan?
  2. If so, why did you develop it and how did you know you needed one?
  3. If not, why don’t you have one?  What keeps you from starting one?

Like I said last post, eighteen years ago when my wife Toni and I started this parenting journey, our plan was simple:  we wanted to prioritize our child’s relationship with Christ above everything else.  That’s all we had, but I’m grateful we had it.  Since then, we’ve refined it a lot and learned tons even as Reggie and I wrote the book.  But I’m thankful we started with something, as simple as it was.

How about you?