As your children grow, so do their relationships with the world around them. Most elementary-aged girls have friends they play with, and by the fourth or fifth grade, they will begin to develop mentor/student relationships through extracurricular activities. Not only do our daughters have coaches and mentors, but in this online era, they have access to an extraordinary number of people, many of whom will remain faceless.
These faceless people may be decent, and can be included in the village you are building for your child to help raise her. But, how can you know who has your child’s best intentions in mind? It is an excellent thought to think that no one would wish daughter harm, that is not the case.
So, today, we will pose some questions for you to think about and send you some tips on how to encourage the best from people who are in your village.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Who does my daughter see every week?
- How Can I connect with them?
- Is there anyone I feel uncomfortable with?
- What is my daughter doing online?
- What social media and online platforms does she have accounts with?
- How can I set up safety precautions with her online environments?
- Does each person who sees my daughter often know what her hopes, dreams, quirks, and good points?
- If so, how can I find out who these people are?
- Who does my daughter go to for advice? Do they have the same values and morals? How can I find out?
- Are there people in my daughter’s life that I can’t have a close relationship but who I can trust anyway?
There are going to be more questions, and writing down a list can help you come up with ideas to get the best answers. The questions above can help you start finding a village to help your daughter be safe, secure, and feel loved.
The Step Mom/Step Dad
If your family unit involves a step-parent, you must 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 select what type of relationship you will have with them. As they are a vital player in your village, it is necessary to ensure that it is a positive relationship for your child’s sake. Share things that are foundational for raising your child. Understand their philosophies e.g., parenting styles, approach to discipline, and 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 the 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 bit of lady. These kinds of relationships are essential, and you must facilitate them and allow them to blossom with good boundaries in place. This relationship can be meaningful during tense teen years. They will be able to provide adult guidance when your daughter 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.
For you to get the best out of your relationship with your child’s teachers and instructors, you genuinely 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 to 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. 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, you need to understand what type of homes they come from and what their background and morals are like. You should make a reasonable 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.
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 lot of mommy and me groups stay together for an extended period. The idea is that the children will grow up together, and you will have a tight-knit group of people to turn to when things get hard.
Keeping in touch with the parents in your group may be easier than the other suggestions in this guide because you will be the one to pick the group.
However, there may be a time where you will drift apart, even if you’re daughters are still friends. Try to touch base with them anyway. Let them know you are around, that you care, and to find out of any changes in their life that may affect what your daughter sees and hears (a new babysitter, a new sibling, divorce, etc.).
Having your daughter be in any form of extracurricular activity is a great way to develop a well-rounded education and childhood for her. However, since there may not be a way to interact with the coaches every week, they may be far from your mind when you are thinking about building your village.
However, anyone who spends time with a child on a weekly or bi-weekly basis has the opportunity to affect your daughter’s moods, how she learns, and how she views life.
There are a few things to look for in a coach when seeing if this adult is someone who you’d like to give lessons on practice, triumphs, and failures.
- If you are looking for good qualities in a coach/mentor and have an opportunity to find out how they treat others (if the lesson is not a group activity), make sure to ask around about fair and equal treatment.
- If the coach doesn’t treat all teammates the same, uses harsh wording, or doesn’t stop other players from mistreating one of their team members, you may have a problem with how the coach will treat your child.
- Always listen to what the coach is saying to the team members. Hearing encouraging words, even when the girls are feeling their lowest, can be a sign of a good coach.
Unfortunately, online communities are here and are a new part of social development; many parents didn’t have growing up. We are all learning together. Some great tips to help ensure that your daughter practices safe online usage and can spot someone unsafe for them to be around are written below.
- Start talking about internet safety young as soon as your daughter sits on your lap for the first time to watch a YouTube video, or play an online game, begin to discuss internet safety. Some words you can use for children three to six are—“we always have to be safe,” or “don’t be online without mom or dad knowing.”
- Setting a time limit will help teach the girls that they don’t always have to be plugged in to be entertained.
- Be their social media “friend,” everywhere they have an account (even if they complain about it).
- Don’t leave passwords around or saved. Having control of the passwords to your daughter’s account will give you the opportunity to know when and where she is going until she begins to understand more about online safety.
A Word about Safety
With every single person in your village, whether they’re family or not, you always want to 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. 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 meaningful relationship in your child’s life and that you keep them healthy.