Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In appreciation of the village

As a mom, especially a home-educating one, there is this invisible pressure (or maybe it's not invisible) sometimes that the parents are to have the sole influence on their children and if not, something is wrong.  I have bought into this idea in the past...then I had more children and although I consider them a great blessing, I also began to rethink this mentality.

Am I really supposed to be the only influence? Am I really responsible, on my own, to meet ALL of my children's needs at various times in their life? And if I don't or can' I really a total failure or unGodly parent? Does God really expect me to do it all?

Well, if he did or does expect me (and my husband) to take it all on ourselves, then yes, we failed.  However, I don't think that was the original idea.  Families used to be community based.  Culturally, families used to live generational, meaning grandpa and grandpa were available and nearby, if not in the same home.  So it seems to me that families were much more extended, allowing the opportunity for more help as well as more influence on each other. With community living, there is close contact and exposure of neighbors in every day life as well.

I have found this to be such an incredible and surprising blessing. Others came around and supported the same ideals and virtues that we held as a family....even when those virtues were in doubt or under crisis.  Friends of the family can grow to be awesome support systems.

I do believe mom and dad should be able to be the primary influence, that is ideal.  Sometimes that is simply not possible, for various reasons. It was interesting to watch others have an influence on my children, offering them guidance and insight and even other points of view and perspectives on life that over all, still supported our family values. 

This actually worked in our favor as others would sometimes be reiterating conversations we had had with our children but since it was not coming from mom or was received better or simply validated mom and dad...especially when you're hearing the same thing from 2 or 3 other trusted adults. ;-)

We have been so blessed to be surrounded by others that have influenced our kids in positive ways.  Uncles, youth group (gasp!) leaders and even art instructors! Imagine! Other people influencing your kids!

Sometimes, as kids are trying to figure out what they believe, what they want to believe, who they are and who they want to be, it's rewarding to hear other adults relaying the same information as your parents have been telling you.  

I used to be afraid of what kind of influence others would have on my kids--wanting to shield them, and wishing we could live in our bubble, thinking no one would have the same values as us?  God has been so faithful to provide my children with other resources, besides myself that have offered encouragement, acceptance and wisdom when my children needed it. It makes a parent feel so validated, encouraged and supported too.  What a feeling to know you are not alone in your parenting journey when you have people you can trust around your children.

If you do not have a community or family like this, pray for one.  It is such an encouragement, for the parent and the child.

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