The effects of working parents on their offspring have sparked great debate amongst researchers. A study conducted by Ellen Galinsky, President of the Families and Work Institute, reported that fathers with children younger than 18 now work an average of 60.9 hours per week; working mothers, 41.4 hours. The reality is that parents are working longer hours and subsequently spending less time at home. There are positive and negative outcomes for these children- and some are even surprising. Which brings us to the question: are you raising your children, or is it their peers who have greater influence?
Research indicates that parents are not primarily working because they are career minded (although many are), but rather due to overspending, rising cost of living, and out of financial necessity. Parents report that the high cost of living, long commutes, traffic congestion, and raised expectations for achievement contribute to their anxiety. The result is longer hours to either pay down debt, or to maintain their lifestyle. Surprisingly, 2/3 of U.S. children are not concerned about whether their parents work or not, but the stress level they see exhibited, and the lack of communication between parent and child.
Interestingly, children in this study, were not concerned about their absent parents, and do not wish to spend more time with them. Most children reported that they want better communication and more “focused” time without their parents feeling strained and tired. Approximately 56% of employed parents thought their kids wanted to spend more time with them, but only 10% of children wanted more time with their parents. The study indicated that only 10% of children wanted more time with their mother and 15.5% with their fathers.
How Are Children Being Peer Raised? Is This Different Than Previous Generations?
The reality is that most children have developed close ties to their peers through advancements in technology. There is more peer parenting going on. Kids text their friends, or go on the internet and communicate with them. The concern for parents should be how well you know the person they are communicating with, and there should be no substitute for a parent’s wisdom.
Peer parenting is interesting unto itself. Friends should never “parent” friends because they do not have the experience or the wisdom that adults have. Also, the responsibility to raise children is solely that of the parent.
With peer parenting, you have a friends talking to your child about issues in their life, and this person, because of the age, can relate to your child. So it becomes like a lure. However, without the wisdom/experience to back it up, your children can get themselves into dangerous situations. Most teens themselves have a “nothing bad will happen to me” attitude, accompanied by feelings of invincibility. Without a responsible adult to guide them who can see the consequences of their choices, they have the potential to make very bad decisions!
As a parent, you want to be a part of your child’s life- to have an influence on them. The danger in them turning to friends for advice is that you may not know that child, the child may be imparting different values or beliefs into your child, and you don’t know the child’s upbringing.
Scripture should be imparted into your children, and the Bible is very specific when it says ‘parents train up your child’. You also may not know the full extent of the relationship between your child and the friend. A male-female relationship could have some interesting consequences in an environment that is largely unsupervised.
While, regrettably, debt has become so prevalent in today’s society, parents should look to become better stewards of their finances- obviously if you are working because you are overspending, than you aren’t being a good steward.
The Word says if God can trust you with little He can trust you with much. We need to be faithful with what we have. It may mean that you cut back in your spending temporarily. However, if you are faithful, and do tithes and offerings, God will bless you beyond measure.
This means that you will not have to work such long hours and miss out on your children growing up. Even though most children understand, they should never have to resort to communicating with their peers for advice.
Peers raising peers can be a dangerous choice. Working long hours just to maintain a lifestyle may not benefiting anyone. If the goal is to “provide a better life”, materialistic gifts aren’t the answer- you are. The best thing that parents can often give their children is themselves.
When we work extended hours, and try to make ends meet, we become stressed out, and the children can see the change in behavior. It effects them personally, and their sense of security. Mom and Dad are having fights because of finances. Overhearing these fights (because children overhear more than we can imagine) causes fear in them. They begin to wonder if there is enough money or if they will be forced to move. Additionally, concerns about the parent’s relationship begin to surface as well.
They also miss out on a relationship with their parents and end of forging one with their peers. You should be the most important influence in their life- it is your responsibility.
Understandably are the parents who work just to provide the necessities. We do have an overwhelming majority of people who fall below the poverty line. However if you rely on God, and recognize Him as your source, He will provide for you. He wants to provide for all of your needs (2 Corinthians 9:8, 10)
It’s challenging balancing work and children especially when debt is involved. However, debt itself is destroying families. God had never intended us to owe anyone anything. Once we realize that it is God’s intent to prosper us, and we rely on Him as our source we can overcome debt and take back parenting our children.
We can plead the blood over our children, however the blood can not necessarily compensate for our absence as parents. We need to take back parenting from our children’s peers and take a more active role. Your children want to talk to you, and they need to communicate to you. They can’t do this if you are working all the time- it doesn’t allow for a meaningful dialogue.
Balance is possible and if you are unwilling to do it for yourself, then consider the next generation. What will things look like for the children that had friends raise them? What will their values and morals look like? More importantly, who is raising your children? Do you approve of them? How much do you know about them?
Our kids are only children for a brief season, and they are our responsibility. What would you say to God in response to the question of how did you raise my children? Would you be proud of your response? Why or why not? Perhaps it’s time for change.