We have been looking at the notion that parents are the greatest shapers of values, based upon survey data revealing the high level of their influence. Interestingly, although mothers are generally thought to have the greatest input into the development of faith and values kids, dads have the greatest influence when mums have lax attitudes in these areas.
Swiss research published in 2000 (referenced here) shows that if dads don’t go to church and mums do, a mere one in 50 of their children become regular churchgoers, even though over half may well become irregular attendees. However, if dads are regular in church attendance that figures jumps up so significantly that 38% become regular churchgoers in their adult life when mothers go inconsistently and then 44% if the mother doesn’t attend church at all!
With this level of influence in mind, let’s have a look at a few extra role-modelling factors in the values-shaping of children, building upon those offered yesterday.
1. Know what not to do. Kids’ use of anger, dishonest, gambling, alcohol, and so on, can be significantly impacted by what they see in the leadership (or lack of it) modelled by their dads. What kids see regarding interactions and attitudes surrounding the use of alcohol, for example, can make an enormous statement and will shape their own views.
2. Know what kids need most. It’s not money or opportunities (as important as these might be), but it’s you! Time with kids such as breakfasts, drive time, time away or hobby time, provides dads (and mums) with the emotional and relational investment that contextualises the shaping of values.
3. Know that what you are speaks louder than what you say. This doesn’t mean what you have always been! Learning from mistakes and living with integrity now makes a powerful statement that can overcome any misgivings and mistakes of your own past. Even if kids seem to be straying or rebelling, and even if your being charged with hypocrisy on the basis of what you did as a teen yourself, standing firm on what you do now and why will generally be such a strong reference point that kids won’t stray too far. This is, of course, provided that there are boundaries on acceptable behaviour and plenty of love proved with time and grace.
Finally, the often-quoted words of Proverbs 22:6 are true here: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”