Hi, it’s Joey, Molly and Ben’s mom again. I truly believe that while raising a child in our day might not require an entire village, building your own village is vital to children growing up in a healthy, balanced environment. I believe that being fully aware of reality is necessary for strategizing our child rearing. To expect that a child will share everything and anything on his or her mind with a parent is a lovely dream, but it’s just that… a dream.
Children, especially teens and tweens, need a number of varied, positive role models. It is up to us as parents to build our child’s universe into an environment where the child can express himself, inquire, explore and create, while finding his place in the world and the future.
I find the other authoritative figures in my children’s lives to be vital to their psychological and developmental well-being. I make sure that the informal educational frameworks in which they take part are full of positive role models for them. To expect that my children’s wants, needs and priorities are exactly as mine are would be foolish. If it turns out that I’m not THE role model they want, I need to make sure they have other role models that we both see as positive.
I’m greatly indebted to the following people who have added to my children’s childhood experiences in ways only two parents never could:
- Youth group counselors
- Clergy members
- After school activity teachers
- Employers (for teens)
- Choose carefully where you live. As close as your budget allows, situate your family in a neighborhood and school district that is closely aligned with your own family’s priorities.
- Check into forums, be they on the park bench or online. Google names. I know this makes me sound like the CIA, but it’s your kids we’re talking about. Is everyone complaining that the softball coach hollers and puts on too much pressure? You should know that before deciding where to sign up for softball.
- Decide what information about your child or family situation to share with whom. You might want some people to approach your child with a clean slate, having no clue that she has a learning disability, has had trouble adjusting socially, or that a grandparent has recently passed away. With others, it may be advantageous to quietly share this information. Use your judgment, taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of each scenario.
- Keep tabs on first employers. Your teen hasn’t been employed before, and as much as he’s maturing quickly (we hope) having a boss is still a first. Look into where he’s looking to work. Do you see fair working conditions? Once employed, is he getting paid on time? Few things wear down a child’s confidence and hopes for the future than being treated poorly in “the real world”.
In general, keep your eyes open. Consciously connect to people. Leave plenty of space and doors open for your children, but know where those doors lead.