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Why Your Kids Need Five Other Adults in Their Lives

Why Your Kids Need Five Other Adults in Their Lives

I have something like 1,300 contacts in my phone. No doubt, 1,300 is a crazy number. You might have double that, or half that. It’s just the world we live in.

But even if you only had 100, you wouldn’t really know each of them well. Not deeply. Not personally. You couldn’t. Our relational span just isn’t that big.

But there’s also a “favorites list” on my phone, as there probably is one on yours. On that list are the people who are one touch-of-the-screen away from a call or a text. My favorites list is much shorter. In fact, there are less that twenty people on that list. If I were to get even more granular, there are really only about five that I call or text all the time. These are the handful of people closest to me.

These five know me inside out…my good points and not so good ones. My dreams and my struggles. My favorite and least favorite things. They’re the ones who are not only great friends, but great advisors.

I’m sure you’ve got those people too.

But do your kids?

When your kids need to talk, who do they talk to?  I mean beyond their friends and beyond you as a parent? Friends are of limited help; sometimes the last thing a 16-year-old needs is advice from another 16-year-old. And sometimes the  last person they want to talk to is a parent. I’m sure there are parents who say, “my kid will talk to me.” But let me ask you something, did you tell your parents everything? Exactly!.

So who do they go to? To whom can they turn?

I dream of a culture in which every child has five adults, other than their parents, they can talk to about the important stuff. Like school. And girls. And parents. And the future. And God. And faith. And their problems.

If you were fortunate when you were growing up, you might have had someone you could talk to other than your mom or dad about the big stuff and the little stuff. Maybe it was a coach who took an interest in you,  a teacher, a neighbor,  a grandparent, or  an uncle who always seemed to have the time for you. If you had someone like that. you know what a difference those relationships can make.

That’s why I wanted my kids to have at least…

five other adults in their life guiding them and giving input.

five people who know their hopes and dreams,

five people who know their quirks and good points.

five people they can talk to honestly about what’s really going on in their lives.

five people who can offer wisdom when life gets confusing.

five people who care about them and pray for them.

My question is simple: who are your kids’ five? Who will they text and who will they call when they don’t know what to do?

If you don’t know who those five are, you’re not alone. But you can change that. Soon.

I would encourage you to spend some time over the next month identifying people your kids can build a trusting relationship with.

My guess is between small group leaders, neighbors, family friends, uncles, aunts, grandparents, coaches and teachers, you will find a few who will be willing to spend a little one on one time with your child periodically.

Ask them if they’ll spend some time getting to know your child or teen, and even pray for them regularly. And then watch what happens.

If every child and teen ends up with five adults on their phone’s favorite list, we might indeed be raising a wider, more secure, more grounded, more Christ-centered, more joyful generation than we’ve seen in a long time.

And if you’re still not convinced, I have a simple question. Don’t you wish there had been five other adults in your life growing up that you had a great relationship with, trusted, and could talk to?

I do. Which is why years ago, I sat down with my sons and drafted theirs. It’s a different world out there. And it can be a better world.

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Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is the lead pastor of Connexus Church and author of several books, including Parenting Beyond Your Capacity (with Reggie Joiner) and his latest book, "Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow." Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership and parenting. He writes one of the most widely read church leadership blogs at and hosts the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews top leaders each week.



    This is a philosophy that has breathed grace and hope into my life as a parent. When I first read Parenting Beyond your own capacity and became involved with Orange, this just blew me away. It became a solid part of my parenting philosophy. Thanks so much for continuing to spread hope through understanding that there are other people in my life who can love on my kids. This is also another reason why I will be old and gray and STILL serving in children/family ministry. I want to influence and love on the next generation for the rest of my life.


    • Megan…I love this! Especially the part about being old and gray and still serving in children’s and family ministry. So thankful for that. Kids need adults! Awesome!


    Thanks Carey! I’m so passionate about making this happen in student ministry.

    • I echo that. So glad to hear that Chad. In the teen years, those relationships are everything.


    This is awesome! I volunteer in the children’s ministry at my church. We were just talking about this concept a few days ago. Thank you for sharing!


    Hi. New to this site. Lots of good stuff here.
    Couldn’t agree more with the above and just wanted to add something for those who may find themselves one of the “Five”
    A great encouragement for any parent is the confidence that other influential adults are supportive of them when they interact with their kids.


    Hi, As someone who had “five” (actually more like 7 or 8) adult that I could lean on as a kid and teenager I can not stress how important this is.

    I come from a big family and my parent always encouraged us to go to aunts and uncles and grandparents or youth leaders that had more experience knowledge or even trust that they did. I would say that my brothers and I were all molded greatly by having parents that were willing to share in the investment of our futures.

    As a mom of 3 boys and the director of childrens ministry at our church I can not speak strong enough to the importance and value of this idea.

    My oldest son is 6 and we are already putting this work. I know that there are things at school that he just won’t talk to me about, so once a week he has a day with Grandma or Papa or one of his Aunts where he gets to hang out and talk about whatever he wants. We have seen him open and grow in his confidance and leaps and bounds in all areas of his life. Especailly prayer, because he know if someone here cares that God will care.

    Thank you for putting words to a growing up experience that I value so much that I didn’t know how to explain.


    As a youth ministry volunteer who tries to be one of “the 5” for many youth, I agree with this philosophy wholeheartedly. I think we as humans are designed to be raised in community, but our culture is reinforcing the ideas of being isolated from others and even when you do live in community with people, do you really trust them? I think this is one place where the Christian community can excel, if we all embrace the idea that we are designed to be the support for one another. I would also say that for your children, do not underestimate the power of supportive, like-minded peers. They may not be able to bring wisdom, but they make a good first line of defense when the world comes at them. Show your kids how to be community with their peers (which may require some time and effort from you as well), and that is what they will expect from their peers as they move into adulthood.


    Good reminder to be intentional in the friendships of our children. We have five children and through the years, the older ones have very organically had older caring friendships with mentors because of our ministry with young adults. Now, we are faced with building that into our youngest and this gave such sage thoughts on how to do that as well as WHY we want to do this. We are thankful for the people that have very naturally stepped in to this role (older sisters and Transit leaders) and will pray and seek out others who will invest into the next generation as well as continue to be that “other adult” in our kids friends lives. This is not a competition but rather a “joined forces” to advance His kingdom.


    This made my cry. As other moms are praying for good grades and great colleges, I am always asking God to send a kind, compassionate friend into my daughter’s life. Some teens can have so many “friends” on social media, but not one person to turn to and lean on in their time of need.



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