We believe there are five principles that will help you as a parent navigate through a variety of different seasons and help you parent beyond your capacity. Parenting can be intimidating, and you weren’t meant to do it alone.
Regardless of your stage of parenting, here’s a promise: A time will come when your children will need another adult in their lives besides you.
So. . .
WIDEN THE CIRCLE
Widening the circle…involves pursuing strategic relationships for your son or daughter.
Parents should become intentional about finding spiritual leaders and mentors for their kids. Every son and daughter needs other adults in their lives who will say things that reflect what a parent would say.
One of the smartest things moms and dads can do is to participate in a church where they can find the right kind of adult influences for their kids.
I have observed a lot of teenagers. From the time they hit middle school, they start moving away from home. They are not doing anything wrong; it’s just the way they are made. They are becoming independent, and they begin redefining themselves through the eyes of other people who are not in their immediate family.
The older they get, the more important it is for them to have other voices in their lives saying the same things but in a different way. Teenage sons and daughters need to have other voices speaking into their worlds. Parents who do not understand this principle have forgotten what it was like to be a teenager.
I cannot count the times my kids would quote something a teacher, our student pastor, or a coach had said. They would act like it was the first time they had ever heard it. I wanted to blurt out, “I have been telling you that for sixteen years!” They were hearing it in a different way because they were at a different stage, and they just needed a different voice.
Widening the circle . . . transitions your child from a “me” approach to a “we” approach.
When you widen the circle, you not only recognize the need for others to influence your children, but also the need for your children to be a part of something that is much larger than just your family. A wider circle gives them not only a place to belong but a significant role to engage in a bigger story.
Seth Godin makes this observation: “Human beings can’t help it; we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people.”
Don’t miss this point. The right community is not only important because of what it gives to your children, but also because of what it requires from your children. Children need more than just a family that gives them unconditional acceptance and love; they need a tribe that gives them a sense of belonging and significance.
Something powerful happens when you partner with other influences who desire to instill a sense of mission into the hearts of your children. You give them a different view of their place in the world, and you transfer a different kind of passion to them that your family alone cannot give them.
Related: You’re Not Enough [Podcast]
- Look for a church that values community (use our church finder tool!)
- Work with other leaders to find opportunities for your kids to serve
- Search for mentors in your community
God never intended life to be lived in isolation, and what’s true of individuals is also true of families. We have been called to live as part of a much wider circle and God-engineered community to help all of us parent beyond our capacity.
This is an excerpt from Parenting Beyond Your Capacity written by Reggie Joiner and Carey Niewhof.