I am often sitting across from a child who has made some bad choices. In one specific situation, a boy complained,
“My parents won’t let me go on a camping trip with my friends and a few of their dads because they are afraid I will do something stupid without them.”
Due to the onset of technology, the ease of travel, frequent job transitions, and now the pandemic, Americans have become more and more isolated. The modernization we enjoy not only lends to isolation, but also negatively impacts the development of healthy parenting.
One casualty of isolation is the loss of the availability of other adults to have a positive influence on our children. Studies have repeatedly shown that people who are connected to a community live longer, happier lives. A parenting community offers fellowship with others, sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. Community provides your children the opportunity to learn from other adults that you know and trust.
One part of community is your peers. Find friends that have children the same age as yours. This is beneficial for a variety of reasons. First, you realize how “normal” your struggles with your child are; this is very cathartic. Second, you create a group of people that can help parent your children. Other parents will see gifts, talents, and abilities that you do not. What you may see as a weakness in your child, your friends may see as a strength. Also, your friends will lovingly point out your “blind spots” that you may need to address with your children.
Another part of community is simply allowing your child to spend time with trusted adults –without you. Not only will these adults help your child create a broader perspective, they will also ease some of the burden of isolated parenting.
If we are only showing our children what we know and do, we are inadvertently narrowing their point of view and limiting their choices. If we expose our children to other adults, we broaden their opportunities and interests. Allowing your child to watch other adults handle difficult situations or make decisions may give your child more skills than you alone can provide.
The most beneficial members of your community are those who have gone before you. Find older parents you respect and allow them to pour into your children and you.
Parenting is the highest and most difficult calling.
It is foolish to try and do it alone. I vividly remember going through a difficult parenting season with my son. When I reached out to one older mother she simply said,
“He’s just going over fool’s hill. He has lost his mind, but it will come back. They all do this.”
Not only did she encourage me, she also took the time to talk with my son about everything she saw in him. The good and the bad.