In the second message of our Be a Builder series I challenged parents to think about five individuals they would specifically invite to be Builders in the life of their child. I asked Pastor Tina Schramme to share more about why this is one thing every parent should do for their children.
We just sent my daughter off to her sophomore year in college, and in case you are wondering, it was not any easier the second time!
But I keep reminding myself this was the goal!
We wanted this for her, for her to have the chance to see just how awesome she can be outside of her comfort zone. We spent 18 years getting her easy for this. And so far, she’s pretty good at this adult thing!
My daughter is a stellar human being. She has something special. I often say, “God made her that way, and we’ve just spent 18 years trying not to mess that up.”
I have a degree in child development so I know parenting is important, and we worked hard at being the best parents we could be for Parker. We have had to make tough choices along the way, letting her fail a little, saying no when we needed to, and all along doing our very best to let her know she was loved deeply no matter what she did or did not do.
But in hindsight, there is one thing I believe payed off bigger than anything else we offered.
We gave her a village.
My husband Gene and I were intentional about creating a team of others to pour into Parker’s life. We let other trusted parents know they could “parent” her in our absence. We picked friends who shared our values and asked them to invest in Parker. We invited village members to come to her sporting events and celebrate her achievements. We bragged about her to a few close friends while she was standing there to hear it.
And when I say bragged, I don’t mean we just boasted about her grades or accomplishments, but also about her heart and her compassion.
We sent out messages to the village when she was hurting, asking for prayers, encouragement and extra hugs. We sought the advice of village members when we did not know how to help her.
We asked the village members to play a part in her life.
You may be thinking, “we have close friends or lots of family – that will do, won’t it?”
The answer is yes and no.
Yes, it is a great starting place. But you really have to be intentional about this. And you need more than just one or two.
Research tells us every teen needs 5 mentoring adults in their life to be successful.
So start by asking your close friends or aunt and uncles to spend a little extra 1:1 time with your kiddos. But then expand your field of vision look around at other possibilities – coaches, teachers, older teens, your church, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, etc.
You certainly want to choose people who will be safe with your child. Make sure you can trust these adults, work only with organizations who thoroughly screen their staff and volunteers.
Whether your child is 8 or 18, it is never too late to give them a village.
Here are some ideas to get started.
Get your child involved in church.
Get to know your church staff and volunteer teachers, mentors, and leaders. Tell them about your child and ask them to encourage them in specific ways. If your child is in a small group, invite the whole group, including the leader to a social event. This allows the parents to get to know each other and your kids. It’s an automatic village!
Ask your babysitter to do more than just babysit.
Finding a great babysitter for your kids is important because you want someone who will do more than just make sure the house is intact when you get home. Look for someone who your kids will look up to and then invite them to be a part of a family gatherings or other celebration. Take them out to dinner with your family and when your child moves beyond the years where they need a sitter, encourage them to continue to stay in contact with one another.
Share some of your goals for your kids with their teachers.
Teachers are your allies in your work with your child. Not all will respond, but in my experience, good teachers like being in on the gig with you. A great way to set the right tone with your child’s teacher is to first communicate that you want to be their partner as well. Pray for them. Encourage them. They have an incredibly difficult job. You might be surprised to see how gladly they will respond by encouraging your child in areas beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.
Coaches are another great ally in parenting.
If your child responds well to a particular coach, enlist their help in other parenting arenas. This has been very successful with my son. I only have to email his football coaches to share a concern I am having and they are on it quickly! And you know how it goes. I can say something 20 times but when a coach says it…
Creating a village doesn’t have to be a formal thing, but it does need to be intentional.
And the great news is that once you are intentional about inviting trusted adults or teens to be part of your child’s life, they just keep on doing it. It continues on without your effort. These village members take seriously the call to help raise a child.
My village continues to love on Parker. They continue to text, call, encourage, and write to her celebrating her successes, listening to her struggles and providing their own solid wisdom and guidance I know my girl needs to hear from her mom and dad but also from other adults who have built trust by being builders in her life.
And for this mom, I could not be more grateful.