Influence Tug-of-War

Monica is a senior from the Bay Area, California. She loves playing video games, reading fantasy, listening to rap, and doing pretty much anything that works together to highlight her individuality.


It is obvious that as your child gets older, your influence on her decreases. This is an important idea and so apparent in our daily interactions that this was an entire unit of study in a high school class I took regarding conscience.
When your child is young, from about birth until the preteen years, her morality is centered on you, the parent. Children do not understand why they must do the things they need to do, which is why they look to their main teacher, protector, and source of love to tell give them all of the answers. Childhood is therefore the best time to instill certain values and manners into your child. A child, with such a pliable mind, is likely to hang on her parents’ words and take them as law. Parents are responsible for drilling lessons into their child’s heads so that these lessons, words, stories, and other thoughts stay with a child hopefully throughout her life. Even if the child does not remember the exact instance when she began her training for etiquette championships, the parent can rest assured that his or her child’s personality thus far has mostly developed in the home.
During the preteen years, the center of focus in a child’s likes and dislikes and morality begins the shift inevitably to other outside sources. The media and your child’s close friends will begin to be large factors that decide your child’s fashion sense, her way of speaking, and what she believes to be “cool” and what is not. This shift continues throughout the preteen years into the teen years, when your child likely will be clashing with you over many of the morals you once tried to instill in her. By this time, she has a stronger sense of who she is, and through the trial and error of maybe sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen years, is beginning to make a shift from being shaped by outward influences to being shaped by her own thoughts and feelings.
Your adult child has a personality that has been well shaped by both your in her early years and by her throughout the rest of her life thus far. By the time she is an adult, she will have the greatest sense of self that life has given her up to this point. The basis of her personality lies within the lessons she was taught as a youngster, and all of the interested nuances of her character have largely been shaped by what she has learned throughout her teenage years. As she moves into adulthood, she will not willingly change the solidified soul, which she has struggled to cultivate over the long years.
This rundown should help any parent understand the phases of influence that the average person works through. Now, armed with this knowledge, another important thing to know is how to maintain a level of influence over your child as she matures and her spheres of influence grow with her. Less friction in relationships makes understanding one another go more smoothly.


Now that you understand that it is inevitable that the influence you have on your child will dwindle, you should also have the knowledge that trying to stop this from happening is utterly futile. It can be frustrating to have disagreements with your child, but these can be somewhat avoided if parents learn to concede to their children and let them win small battles. If your child feels that you support her transition into adulthood, she will be more open overall and willing to give you some of her small battles as well, which may just be your larger fights.


Photo: born1945 from Flickr



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