The power of influence

I have talked about influence a bit here at the Scoutmaster Minute, mainly because I try not to take for granted the influence that I have on the lives of the young men we have in Scouting.

Yesterday I was given some shocking news about a few kids in our neighborhood.  And it got my wife and I in a discussion about influence and how these two kids got to where they are.
First, both of these kids are from good homes, with good, caring parents.  They go to school in a solid middle to upper middle class area and are not lacking at all in attention, love, and care.
Second, both of these kids are seemingly well behaved and polite.  One is an all start athlete, the other is into her own thing, but nothing that you would send red flags flying.
So here is the twist.
The All star athlete was caught smoking dope the other day.. turns out it is not the first time.
And the other kid has been caught hanging out with a gang and dabbling in pornography.
And so the question is why?
What is the influence that drove them to where they are?  It saddens me.
It’s not their parents, they are good people.  People with a strong set of values and structure.  They provide a loving environment for the kids and make sure that all their needs are met.
My guess is that it is from peers.  Which frightens me as a Dad as to how much influence peers have on our young people.  It is obvious that even when all the stars are lined up at home.. peers can sway the decisions of our kids.  It is a power that influences the kids that can be stronger than what mom and dads deem right and wrong.
So what is the answer?
DO YOU BEST.  We raise our kids in a loving, caring environment.  We allow them to learn from mistakes, but they understand that with every decision comes consequences.  Good and Bad.  You teach them in the ways that you would have them brought up and show them what right looks like.
Every thing we do as parents, as Scout leaders, and influential adults in our communities is being watched.  We can’t lock up our kids and shelter them from life.  We have to show them life’s choices and how it will effect them in the long term.  Last night we had the serious talk about drugs.  We have talked about it all before, but it never really hit home.  Our kids do not see it first hand, so we turned this into a teaching moment and it really hit hard.
Our all star athlete.. well he can’t play sports any more.  His life revolved around football and track.  All gone.  For my son, the athlete.. this shocked him and put everything in a certain perspective.  In so far as the other situation, the teaching moment was about Birds of a feather…  You become like the people you associate with.. so pick your friends with caution.  A true friend will share your values and care about you.  And while you may find that in a gang, you need to look at the values and consequences. 
In Scouting we share a set of values and the consequence is success, character, good citizens, and fit young people.  All pluses in my book.
While I am still in shock over the news, it presented a great teaching moment as a Dad.  And while I am not happy that this had to happen to these parents, or the kids for that matter, I hope the kids learn from this and have a change in their lives.  I hope that they can find a way to change their values or learn from the influence of positive role models and people of character.
Life is hard sometimes, but we all have influence… use it wisely.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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