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Vantage point


‘Follow me, kids’

Driving down the freeway to an early morning appointment, I passed a local business that has a large pond some distance off the road. I caught something out of the corner of my eye on the shoulder of the road. To my horror, I saw a single-file string of Canada geese, one parent in front, one taking up the rear, and several little goslings in between, waddling resolutely toward the road.

I quickly looked in my rearview mirror to see that string of little honkers obediently following their parent into the first lane. Since it was very early there was little traffic, but in my mirror I could see two cars approaching in the distance. They were out of sight before I could see what happened, but it would have been difficult to turn that little string of birds around in time to avert tragedy.

A current billboard shows a child wearing a seatbelt and says, "He’ll do what you do, Dad." Though many parents feel their kids don’t want to do what they tell them to do, the fact of the matter is that they often do what they see their parents doing. The silent influence of a mother’s or father’s life continues to be one of the most significant influences – for good or bad – on a child’s life.

My blood boils when I see a parent with small children, blowing cigarette smoke into their faces. Second-hand smoke has resulted in illness in millions of children from those who should protect them most. Your child has friends who think smoking is cool; if that view is reinforced by parents, they will likely do it.

The things that are watched in the home also impact a child’s life. Cable television – especially the premium channels – can be a terribly detrimental influence. The more violent, profane and sexual junk parents let into their homes, the less they should be surprised when a child mimics that negative behavior. For many it will become a way of life.

Prejudice is something else that children can pick up from their parents. Only rarely is it aggressive. Usually prejudice is a subtle thing, often confined to the privacy of the home. But those slight ethnic slurs or other unkind biases become reality to a child. And God is not pleased with them.

Parents who smoke, swear, drink, watch junk or exhibit prejudice in the home should know they are leading their children down a destructive path.

Your children will follow you. Will you lead them across the freeway or away from it?

Ken Horn

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