We are having tons of fun these days planning our daughter’s graduation party. We decided to turn it into a huge thank you party for all of the people who have helped us raise our daughter over the years. We are inviting everyone from her “aunties” to the sweet lady at the cleaners that always asks about her activities and buys Girl Scout cookies to our neighbors and the people at Church who have had a hand in her spiritual growth. Don’t tell my husband, but it’s a long list!
I am a strong proponent of learning from the mistakes and lessons of others rather than insisting on making the same mistakes yourself, “just to see”. Probably one of the least heeded scriptures in the New Testament is Titus 2:3-5. It admonishes the older women to teach the younger, with the implication that the younger women are listening. Yet if you ask older women in most churches, they will tell you the younger women routinely dismiss any wisdom they have to share as old-fashioned or uninformed.
As a parent in the home stretch (at least of the “at home” years), I can tell you parenting is much easier if you do have a village backing you up. You can choose to an extent who resides in your village, but then you need to humble yourself enough to ask for help and take it when it is offered. Who do you need residing in your village?
- Prayer Warriors – Not the casual “I’ll pray for you” types, but people who you know are seriously praying every day and have a strong conviction about the importance of prayer. Ask these people to pray for specific needs you and your children have. We have seen prayer work time and time again, not just ours but because we also believed it was important enough to enlist added voices on our behalf. To this day, our daughter will ask me to ask our prayer warriors to pray for her if she has an important concern.
- Successful Christian Parents – These are the parents who are a very rare find these days, but they are still out there. They have adult children who are faithful and involved in the Church. Sure these parents made mistakes, but for the most part they instilled enough important concepts in their children for them to stick well into adulthood. These moms may not know the latest way to swaddle a baby, but they definitely know how to train a child in character and spiritual concepts.
- Christian Parents Whose Adult Children Have Made Huge Mistakes and Who have Figured Out Some of Their Own Parenting Missteps – These parents have a special value. Not every parent with adult children who have rejected God has something important to share with others. Sometimes people just make really bad mistakes that have nothing to do with the way they were raised. Other times, parents realize too late they wish they had made some different choices in their parenting. They are heartbroken, but they have a sense of where they made mistakes. It doesn’t excuse their children from making poor choices, but these parents have been where you are and can warn you of the consequences if you continue on that road. If you are that parent, I beg you to do whatever it takes to keep other parents away from the mistakes you made. Who knows how many souls and how much heartbreak you can save by being a warning sign for other Christian parents?
- Encouragers – These people are cheerleaders for you and your children. They are more than happy to celebrate every little victory and encourage your child to continue down important paths. They may even attend your children’s events, celebrate their birthday’s or just remember to ask what happened in the situation they were worried about the week before. They are the ones who encourage you to stay strong in Christian parenting even when you feel like you are losing not only the battle, but the war as well.
- Spiritual Coaches- These can be Bible class teachers, youth leaders, ministers or even a godly person who wants to help mentor your child or develop her gifts. These are the people who have a godly vision for your child’s future and want to help him grow spiritually and develop his gifts. They encourage her to serve and help him learn how to share his faith. They gently and lovingly spur your child on to good deeds and godly behavior.
Do you have openings in your village? I can promise you, it is well worth your time to start filling those slots. The great news is that you can have many people in each role and some people who are able and willing to fill multiple roles. Don’t leave any openings for long – you are just making your own parenting journey more difficult than I think God meant it to be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and humble yourself enough to take it. Choose people who will be totally honest with you. Telling you what they think you want to hear doesn’t help you or your children.
Don’t forget to thank your village along the way. We can’t wait to host our huge thank you party in a few weeks, but we have made sure to thank a lot of these people regularly in other ways. Who else is in your parenting village and how do you say thank you to them? I would love for you to share your ideas with us.