When you think about your support system for parenting, relatives and close friends likely come to mind. While you get to chose who you trust, there are five types of people who you often don’t get to choose but have great influence on your children.
Here are some ways to engage with these individuals to make sure the resulting relationships are safe and productive for your child (ren).
The Step Mom/Step Dad
If your family unit involves a step parent, it’s very important that you foster a good relationship between them and your child regardless of what the circumstances are! While you do not get to choose this person, you can choose what type of relationship you will have with them. As they are a key player in your village, it is necessary to ensure that it is a positive relationship for your child’s sake. You should share things that you deem as foundational for raising your child and understand their philosophies e.g. parenting philosophies, their approach to discipline, how they handle conflict etc. It’s a good idea to discuss expectations and boundaries and how you will work collectively as a team to ensure success of your child.
The Second Mom
The role of the second mom will most likely be filled by your best friends or close friends that have been around to see your child grow from little infant to a little lady. These kinds of relationships are important and it is necessary for you to facilitate them and give them an opportunity to blossom with good boundaries in place. They can prove to be especially important during those tense teenage years, as they’ll provide an outlet for your child in instances where she may need adult guidance but may not feel comfortable discussing with you.
Your Child’s Teachers
Your child’s classroom teacher as well as the instructors for extracurricular activities that your child is involved in, are very influential in the development of your child.
In order for you to get the best out of your relationship with your child’s teachers and instructors, you truly have to engage. Get to know every single teacher that your child has. Keep an open line of communication. Talk to them regularly, set up arrangements with them to give you feedback, and make them feel comfortable to come tell you when there is an issue with your child.
Be mindful of your attitude when receiving negative feedback on your child. If you put up a defensive front or often assume your child is right, they might start to keep communication with you minimal. This does not help you or your child. Ensure you have a good understanding of the issue and do your best to be proactive in working through them. Embrace the role of the teachers and instructors in supporting your efforts to help your child succeed.
The Parents of your Child’s Friends
The parents of each child that your kids interact with, especially those children with whom your child forms close relationships with, are a big part of your village. These are children that will entertain, inspire, motivate and demotivate your child. As such it’s important for you to understand what type of homes they come from and what their background and morals are like. You should make a good effort to form a cordial relationship with their parents so that all of you can band together and create the best environment for your children.
Your Child’s Mentors
Mentors are definitely in your village and they are found everywhere. Sometimes you’re not even aware that they’re in your village because these relationships can happen without your knowledge. Many times they are based on connections over interests that your child has with someone else that is more experienced.
It is important that you stay aware of mentoring relationships and that you make sure that they are healthy for your child and that your child is using them in the right ways. You also want to make sure that the adult that is involved has good intentions.
A Word about Safety
With every single person in your village, whether they’re family or not, you want to always make sure that your child’s safety is of the utmost priority. Trust your instincts about people and their motives. Make sure that you are present whenever your child is having a meeting with these adults, especially if it’s in an unfamiliar environment or if the relationship is new and still budding.
Lastly, There’s no doubt that you need a village to support your child. In fact, you should embrace that support. However, for your child’s sake be the mayor of the village and make sure that you are aware of every important relationship in your child’s life and that you keep them healthy.