Positive & Negative Influences of Parents on Their Children

by Alice Drinkworth

    A parent can do anything in the eyes of a 6-year-old, but becomes an embarrassment to that same child at age 13. An adolescent's more critical view of his parents is part of growing up, preparing him to separate from his family when he becomes an adult. Parents might turn that critical eye inward, to reassess their parenting and lifestyles. The choices parents make can have long-lasting positive and negative influences on children.

    It isn’t easy to be involved with a teen who keeps pushing away, but making the effort pays off. Parents who are involved with their children, who know where they are after school and have met most of their friends, have a positive effect on their child’s life. Children of involved parents are less likely to participate in risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol or fighting, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Teens with involved parents have better self-esteem and perform better in school.

    On the flipside, a lack of parental involvement can have long-lasting negative effects on a child. Children who don’t have a close relationship with a parent are at risk for teen pregnancy, more likely to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, and more likely to live a sedentary life. They are also more likely to be withdrawn or suffer from depression.

    Children observe parents and their behaviors. Parents lead by example. A child who sees his dad exercising regularly is more likely to be active as an adult. Behaviors demonstrated by parents affect a child’s eating habits, exercise habits and dental hygiene.

    Unhealthful behaviors might have even higher negative effects. Children of smokers are more likely to smoke, because of parental modeling and because they have increased access to cigarettes. A child of an alcoholic parent is four times more likely to become an alcoholic, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Some of it is genetics, some modeling, and some accessibility.

    Being an involved parent takes time, patience and the ability to deal with eye rolls and mopey behavior. Parents can start with a family dinner, which has shown to have a tremendous positive effect on children. The family dinner brings parents and children together, giving time and space for conversation in a comfortable environment. Positive parenting is being available to a child, talking about subjects that interest the child and knowing his friends.

    About the Author

    Alice Drinkworth has been a writer and journalist since 1995. She has written for community newspapers, college magazines and Salon.com. Drinkworth earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and won a media award for her in-depth coverage of local politics. She is also a certified master gardener.

    Photo Credits

    • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images