Here’s a simple question to start thinking about, “Who are the other adults in your kids’ lives?” Personally, I think one of the biggest mistakes a parent can make is to try to parent alone.
You should reject any notion that you are the only adult influence your kids will ever need. Reality suggests that, as your children grow up, they will look for approval and affirmation from someone other than you as a parent. So, the choice is simple. Either you are strategic about who else you will invite into their life, or they will pursue relationships with other adults on their own. But it will happen. It’s normal and natural for kids to desire a degree of attention from other adults or parents.
It is also important to realize that most research indicates that kids who have other significant adults investing in their life during their teenage years are better prepared emotionally and spiritually.
So, what will you do? You can resist, cooperate or compliment your children’s transition toward adulthood. Think about it, if your goal is to raise an adult who is independent of you, then you should start now. If you don’t like the idea of your children becoming independent from you then you may be parenting with a wrong motive.
But if you hope to unleash your kids to discover their potential, then open doors for your kids to connect to other adults. Why don’t you start by making a list of potential adults that could build a short-term or long-term relationship with your children.
Parenting with this in mind can make the difference in whether or not you limit the growth of your children, personally, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Here are some categories to help you start thinking.
• ADULTS WHO SHARE INTERESTS
Find someone who specializes in something your kids are already interested in doing. (Look for a friend who shares their interest in art, guitar, carpentry, birds, baseball, etc.)
Don’t limit their experiences to what you enjoy.
• ADULTS WITH SPECIFIC SKILLS
Find someone who can help them develop a critical skill for adulthood. Look for a friend who is good at managing money, health and fitness, cooking, etc.
Don’t limit their skill to what you are good at doing.
• ADULTS WHO ARE EDUCATORS
You would be surprised at how many of your friends were teachers or are presently teachers. Who can you invite into your kids’ lives to help them in their education? Look for friends who can inspire and temporarily tutor them in math, science, history, etc.
Don’t limit their learning to what you know.
• ADULTS WHO BUILD FAITH
Find mentors or coaches who can help them grow spiritually. This is where a good church is important. Look for a church that strives to put consistent leaders in the lives of your kids. Attending church consistently allows your children to bond with other adults who will help shape their faith.
Don’t limit their faith to what you have discovered about God.
• ADULTS WITH INTERESTING CAREERS
Other adults can broaden their imagination about the kind of career they can have one day. Look for any opportunity that can expose them to understanding what people who may be wired like them do as a profession.
Don’t limit their concept of work to what you do.
• ADULTS FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS
Spending time with other adults who are from a different ethnic background can also play a critical role in how your kids treat and respect others. A significant part of their adult life will be interacting and working with people who are different than they are.
Don’t limit their view of the world to what you see.
• ADULTS WHO ARE EXTENDED FAMILY
Something interesting happens to a child’s understanding of their family story when they hear your parents or siblings talk about you. It has a way of connecting them to a bigger family dynamic. It is always valuable to recruit key adults in your extended family to build relationships with your kids. They can usually be trusted to definitely have your children’s best interests at stake. Who are the adults in your extended family that can give your kids a sense of who they are and where they came from?
Don’t limit the connection to their family’s story to what you tell them.
Some of these leaders can be enlisted to help your kids with a specific task or on a short-term basis. Others can and will have long-term influence. Just remember the greatest thing that you do for you child may be what you get another adult to do.