In a recent discussion with my dad on parenting older children, he shared this bit of wisdom.
“Influence is a small coin that should be used sparingly.”
While our children are small, our interaction with them typically consists of their obeying our commands, because – hopefully – we have trained them to do so. As the adults, we control where they go, who they are with and the influences that enter their lives.
However, as they grow into the teen years, they gain independence and begin making decisions for themselves. If we have cultivated our relationship with them during the early years, the likelihood is greater that they will ask us for counsel when unsure of what to do.
It is at this point that our influence as parents comes into play. We seek to guide them with Biblical counsel and wisdom gained from our own experiences. Surely, the stronger the bonds that we’ve formed with our children, the more influence we will have.
Yet, as I ponder my dad’s statement, I realize that I cannot exert my influence in every situation or it will be valued less and less. I will need discernment as to when to use that influence and when to let them find their own way, learning and maturing in the process.
Looking back, I see that my dad, in his Godly wisdom, did exactly that with his children. I am blessed to have his example to follow with my own daughters when that time arrives.