Let’s not forget who the real influencers are – the parents! Yes, you, even if you have 4 followers on social media or haven’t even registered for an account. We are our kids’ main influencers. The term ‘influencer’ these days takes on some form of a cool dancer on TikTok, and yes, those people might influence our kids, and perhaps even me at times, but let’s not forget who is always going to be number one, even if it feels like we can’t influence our kids to do anything.
As a mom, in theory of course I want to make deliberate decisions that influence my kids, but let’s get real – a good percentage of the time, especially now, survival is the focus and how I influence them is a secondary thought. No matter how conscious of it I am, though, the influence is happening all the time, by the simple fact that I am their mom. By becoming a parent, we automatically gain the privilege of being our kids’ heroes, the voices constantly in their heads, for better or for worse. Don’t you still hear your parents’ voices in your head at moments you least expect? Just today I heard my mom’s voice in my head telling me to clean the lint out of the dryer so that I don’t cause a fire. Mundane, perhaps, but she is always there even when she isn’t, guiding and influencing.
This week I experienced moments where I realized I indeed had some influence on my kids. A few days ago I muttered something to my son about how there are two sides to every story, basically not to take one person’s side so quickly. He was buried deep in his phone, seemingly absorbed in some chat with friends, and I dismissed it as yet another moment I try to teach life lessons to an uninterested kid. The very next day my husband came to me saying that our son gave him a hard time about not looking at both sides of the story. What?!
Another influencing incident this past week involved my daughter. Her gym teacher asked her to lead a yoga warm-up for her class, but she adamantly didn’t want my help. She has done lots of yoga with me, but not on her own, and I am never sure if she is internalizing it or even cares. I secretly watched behind her door during her online Google classroom, confidently giving yoga instructions I have said and doing similar sequences I have taught her. Another ‘What?!’ moment.
There was of course the incident just today where the expletive I used yesterday was repeated by my son in the exact same way. I won’t comment on that one.
Our kids are always listening and watching, even if it feels like they are never listening and watching. Sure, it might frequently be in a passive state rather than an active state, but it is happening, especially now since we are pretty much the only people they see, at least in person. They absorb everything that we say and do. As parents we are their main influencers, whether or not we have chosen to be, and whether or not they want us to be. Let’s take that responsibility seriously. The best part is that we don’t have to be cool or hip, just be ourselves and be there for them.