Adults Who Influence Our Kids
by Beth K. Vogt
Here’s the good news, mom: When it comes to your kids, it’s not all about you.
Yes, you are an important influence in your child’s life. Probably the first influence. Most likely one of the most vital influences.
But you’re not the “It” Girl. And that’s a good thing.
I purposefully prayed for other adults to come alongside my children. To befriend them. And I was thankful when God brought amazing mentors into each of my children’s lives.
My son, Josh, often hung out after school in his Bible teacher’s classroom — just to talk. Looking back, Josh said his wrestling coach also influenced him greatly.
My daughter, Katie Beth, babysat for a young mom and became close friends with her. I used to joke that if Katie Beth disappeared in the middle of the night, I would know this other mom had kidnapped her. Not for babysitting services — but because she loved my daughter. This mom-friend was one of her bridesmaids when Katie Beth got married — and her husband performed the ceremony!
My other daughter, Amy, was influenced by a myriad of adults: coaches, her band teacher, short-term missions team leaders. Each experience taught her practical life skills and shaped who she is today.
My youngest daughter, Christa, was born 12 ½ years after her closest sibling. Now that she’s 10 years old, her older brother and sisters often act as her mentors. They share their hard-earned perspective on life — and yes, on mom and dad — with their little sister. I welcome their influence. When Christa struggled with the death of our close friends’ 13-year-old son, she asked her brother and sisters a lot of questions. They listened, wept with her and prayed with her.
As moms, we want our children to develop strong, faith-centered character. Let’s not think we’re the only one responsible to make that happen.
How can you nurture mentors in your child’s life?
Pray. Ask God to bring people into your child’s life who understand her and see her strengths and weaknesses.
Observe. Watch for adults who “click” with your child. A natural rapport is a must for mentoring to flourish.
Welcome. You want others to invest in your child — so step back and let relationships develop. If you’re always lurking, you’re in the way.
Guard. Not all influences are beneficial. Encourage healthy relationships that support your family’s values.
Respect. As your child gets older, especially in the teen years, he may feel more comfortable talking with his mentor than he does with you. That’s OK. Be thankful he has someone trustworthy to go to if he’s struggling.
Maintain. Let your child know he is always a priority to you. Don’t disappear because he has other adults who are advising him.
Beth K. Vogt is the author of Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood after 35. Contact her at email@example.com or twitter.com/bethvogt.