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Not long ago in class, a student mentioned that she was halfway there on an assignment. My immediate response, being the child of the ‘80s that I am, was, “Are you livin’ on a prayer?” in reference to the 1986 Bon Jovi smash hit song.

Another student jumped in and said, “My mom ALWAYS plays that song! She’s seen Bon Jovi in concert like 42 times!” (Upon further investigation, I’ve learned the number is closer to 27.)

This child has been exposed to Bon Jovi and other excellent rock music from that time period, thanks to her mom. She even grudgingly admitted that it’s pretty good music. (And yes, many of us joined in an a cappella rendition of the chorus to the song!)

Last week I wrote about the influence we sometimes have on our children, without even thinking about it. After the comment by that student with the music, I was inspired to expand on that very subject: ways we corrupt our children!

We have so much influence on our children that sometimes we must think about the power we wield. Do our children always like the music we play, just because they’re exposed to it? Certainly not, but some of that can creep in. Hey, you listen to enough polka music, as I did growing up in New Ulm, and you might develop an appreciation, if not love, for that style of music.

Anton will often choose the same country station Michelle listens to, though Jayna would rather tune in to the hip-hoppity, jip-joppity schlock that passes for pop music these days. Still, she can be caught singing some of those country songs and maybe even if I’m tuned in to Power 96 and listening to classic rock.

Being the huge Star Wars fan I am, I sat my kids down even before they entered kindergarten and had them watch all six movies. (Side note for those who care: when doing this, always show the original trilogy first. It makes the scene where Darth Vader revels that he’s a dad that much more dramatic!) Both kids can recite lines from the movies and are certainly looking forward to the new movie debuting in December. Would that have happened without my influence? Possibly, but I’m always amazed at how few 7th graders have ever seen even one of those movies before I show one in class for a writing assignment.

I’ve worked the angle with another of my great loves, comic books. I read them to the kids when they were young and bought some for them. Jayna has never really expanded on that, though she has enjoyed some of the Marvel movies. Anton, however, has jumped into this hobby with me full bore. We still read some comics together every month and talk about what is coming up in the future. This past week, we attended Free Comic Book Day and saw the new Avengers movie together. Will he always love comics? I hope so!

Many of you probably have similar experiences. You share a hobby and are excited when your child loves it like you do. Whether it’s a sport, hunting, knitting, cooking, or something else, parents swell with pride when they create a parent-child bond through a shared interest. Again, I ask: would the child find that enjoyment without our guidance?

We do have to be careful. Kids are very impressionable, and sometimes we have bad habits that we shouldn’t pass on to them. A University of Washington study showed that children of smokers are twice as likely to start smoking between the ages of 13 and 21. That’s probably not the type of influence we want to exert on the kids.

How about careers? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of reliable information out there on statistics of that, partially because kids often follow a career that wasn’t even a job when their parents were young! One study in England showed only 7% of kids choosing the same career as a parent. Do you want your child to follow your path? I suppose that depends. Do you enjoy your job or not? Is the outlook bright for job creation in that area in the years to come?

We all want our kids to grow up happy in their job and interests. We really do influence them in so much of that. At the end of the day, if the kids are happy when they find that job and strike out on their own, that’s what really counts, no matter how much we tried to corrupt them.

Word of the Week: This week’s word is tonsure, which means to shave the head, as in, “The barber wasn’t sure he wanted his son to learn to tonsure others as a permanent job.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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