The Importance of “Extra Adults”

This week I talk about how kids need other adults in their lives besides their parents.

I’m not a psychologist or sociologist (and good thing, because “committing sociology” is apparently frowned upon in Canada), but I think  if you look at most healthy, thriving kids you’ll see they have other people in their corner besides their parents. It might be a teacher, a coach, a volunteer leader. It could even be someone just a few years older than them.

I started leading a junior-high youth group at our church when I was still a college student, not quite out of my teens myself. I also coached basketball off-and-on for about five years — something I’d enjoy doing again when my kids are older.

I’m not writing this to toot my own horn, but I know I got away with saying things to some kids that they probably couldn’t have heard from their parents. I know when I was a teenager, I had people like that in my life too.

Now that I’m a parent, I want to encourage my own kids to develop those healthy relationships as they grow older. I love my kids dearly and I hope they will always feel like they can talk to me about anything and everything. But I also suspect that, like just about every kid who’s ever lived, they might have moments where they need to hear things from someone who’s not Mom or Dad.

On the other side of the coin, I also value it when people help me see my kids objectively. It’s very easy as a parent to get hung up on the little things that drive us crazy (like “Why do I have to always have to ask you seven times to pick up your socks?!”) but sometimes other people help us see more clearly.

Our oldest boy did an eight-week art class this winter through the municipal recreation program, and at the end of it the instructor gushed about how much he enjoyed The Mastermind. He’d never met a seven-year-old who casually drops references to Napoleon or the Great London Fire 0f 1666 in conversation.

“He’s amazing,” the guy said. “Every week he said at least one thing that blew me away.”

It’s always nice to be reminded that your kid is pretty cool… it makes it easier to cope when he’s delivering an angry filibuster at the dinner table because I made him turn off the computer. Objective people can help us see the big picture.

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One response to “The Importance of “Extra Adults”

  1. When our boys were small a wise person told us to look for the mentors and adults that would be there for them. We are grateful for the role you played in their lives.

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