Above the Influence?

This morning as my seven year old was eating breakfast, she announced to me that her 2nd grade teacher had told the kids the day before that they should wear spring coats, not winter coats the next day.  I knew that the weather report called for unseasonably warm weather today, but it’s February in the northeast.  It’s not as though a forecast high of 60 means that we’ll be toasty warm from bus pick up through bus drop off.  Prepared for a fight, I checked Weather.com and found that the current temperature was 44.

But realizing that my daughter’s 2nd grade teacher is way cooler than I am, I dressed my daughter in a t-shirt, a cardigan sweater, and a spring coat, preparing her for just about any temperature and avoiding a battle.

My loyal five year old son bundled up in his winter coat, and we headed to the bus stop.  My kindergartner, the last member of Team Mom, snuggled me as we waited for the bus, my daughter beaming in her light coat, ready for a heat wave.

I’ve always loved those Above the Influence campaign commercials that I see far too often because I watch an embarrassing amount of TV not aimed at my demographic (Teen Mom2, anyone?).  The idea of being above the influence of our peers is empowering.  The message is fantastic, the images motivational.  I imagine the times that I myself stood up to high school friends and refused to drink or do drugs, and I hope that my kids will also remain above the influence as they move through elementary and into the terrifying world of middle school, the peer pressure epicenter.

What I realized today, however, is that there really is no “above” the influence.  There is only a shift in influence.  My daughter is learning who she is, who she wants to be, exploring and expressing her independence.  Part of that includes being influenced far less by what her father and I have to say and believe, and far more by not only the kids around her, but the other adults as well.  She chats with her Sunday School teachers, her piano teacher, her ballet instructor, and yes, her 2nd grade teacher with whom the sun rises and sets.

So I guess my new goal as a parent is not to teach my children to be above the influence, but to allow themselves to be influenced by the positive forces in their lives.  And my job?  To continue to surround them with those types of people, always aware that what I have to say matters less and less every day.

And for what it’s worth, it was a beautiful day.  I didn’t wear a jacket once.

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  • anne hill

    have u ever read an essay by Anna Quindlen titled _power_. i think it’s in _living out loud_. it’s about the power of parental influence over kids (or adult influence). _living out loud_ is one of my fav books.

  • It’s what you do, not so much what you say, that children learn by. I totally agree.