How do parents influence children in life?
This is such a broad question, there are many avenues from which to tackle it.
I'm going to propose looking at it through the lens of religion. Most world religions support the traditional family structure as well as encourage large families because it is a quick and effective way to multiply numbers. Consider the growth of Islam in Europe today. It is quickly becoming one of the most highly represented religions (even in Western Europe) not due to evangelism and conversion, but due to the simple fact that Muslims are having more children.
And this isn't a trend that is isolated to one world religion. Consider Catholics or Mormons. Here are two religions that encourage large families and consider a man blessed by the number of children he has.
Based on this, it could be probably be argued that choice of faith or religion is most highly influenced by parents. Consider how many people in the world who may not consider themselves "religious" would say, if asked what they believe and why, "Well, I guess I believe what my parents believed. It's what I knew growing up..." My guess would be a lot.
I would say that the exposure to values and beliefs would be one of the strongest influences that parents have over children in their lives. The manner in which parents expose their children to values or ideas become extremely important for children over time. For example, it is a challenge for some students to do well in school if they are in an environment where education is not valued nor is supported. At the same time, if parents teach values that are antithetical to society, it increases the likelihood that they might embrace these values as absolutes. Naturally, children do have freedom and autonomy. They are not robots programmed by their parents. Yet, the values and ideas imparted by parents to children and supported by the home setting helps to enhance potentially good and not so good habits being formed.
There are many ways that parents can influence their children. I would say that these tend to fall into two categories -- children can choose to pattern themselves after what they see their parents do or they can choose to avoid being like their parents.
In large part, we as children are shaped by what we see our parents do and how we see them act. I know that I have tried to model myself after my parents in many ways because I think they have done many things right.
On the other hand, there are things that I think they have done wrong and I consciously try to avoid doing those things. But either way, the way I live my life has been influenced by them.
The list is endless. As a teacher I see a student for five hours per week (assuming they are there each day), and for 18 or 36 weeks depending on the class. 90 to 180 hours per student. It often makes me wonder why all the hubbub and fuss about what is being taught in the schools when parents spend exponentially greater time with their children then we do. A parent tends to greatly influence a child's belief system, from religion to politics to personal values and habits. They socialize them into the world and (hopefully) monitor their involvement with it. Parents are the single largest factor, in my opinion, in determining a child's success or failure in life.
Parents can influence children in many ways throughout their lives. One influence my parents had on me was to value education. They taught me how to work for what i want and to never let anyone or anything stand in my way. That taught me to look past fear and to explore new areas in life.
Parents can teach their children invaluable lessons just by the way they handle everyday situations and they respond to events.
Parents can influence children a lot because they have a very close relationship since the child's birth. A parent can influence their children in many ways. If a parent doesn't care about their children or set bad examples in front of their child, they will follow their parents and act just like them. This is because parents are their children's own role model. If a parent is very responsible and teaches their children, then the child will have a very good influence in their life. This can affect the result of the child's future.