Someone once told me “you are the five people you hang out with.” This was probably a parent and as a parent today I certainly think this is a valuable statement to make to the young men and young women we are raising. Looking back on the varied (I’ve been blessed/cursed with a great deal of variety in my life) “seasons” of my life I can testify with confidence that this is a true statement. The things I listened to, the books I read, the conversations I had, the thoughts, and ultimately the actions I took were all influenced tremendously by those individuals with whom I spent the most of my time. Fortunately I feel that I owe most of them a debt of gratitude.

As I get older (everyone wants to get older, but no one wants to age) I’ve taken this five person idea a step further and realized what I really want as a father is for my sons to be the kind of young men OTHER parents want their kids to hang out with. Of course this is a bit tougher than trying to manage the kids’ core group of friends, but in the end probably more worthwhile. My hope and prayer is that somewhere some parent is encouraging their child to “hang out with that Hamilton kid.”

As for myself my goal is to live up to Emersons’ quote on influence:

The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence.

In other words, it’s my constant hope and prayer that I might be the best I can be by leaving an effect that motivates in a positive direction, long after I’m gone. For one final thought, fitting since this Sunday will mark 11 years since my Dad’s passing, my dad used to repeat the first stanza of  this little poem to me, also concerning influence and parenting sons:

A careful man I want to be;
A little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray
For fear he’ll go the self same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes,
Whate’er he sees me do, he tries.
Like me he says he’s going to be;
The little chap who follows me.

He thinks that I’m so very fine,
Believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see;
The little chap who follows me.

I must remember as I go
Through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,
I’m building for the years to be;
The little chap who follows me.

Please comment with any poems, quotes, books etc. you can recommend on parenting, influence, peers, peer pressure, etc.

Have a great day! Joe H

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