One day my daughter heard me telling someone that they could survive middle school and high school by creating a village for their kids and her comment to me later was that I never did that for her. I laughed and celebrated my genius because I realized at that moment that her middle school and high school villages operated seamlessly. I asked her why she thought her father and I took a group of adults out to lunch to celebrate her middle school graduation. I reminded her about adult friends who took a special interest in her during middle school and high school. I could see the wheels turning in her head almost like she was quickly surveying the last three or four years and the relationships she and I shared with the folks at the lunch table and at other social events. She recalled family friends, teachers, church members, Young Life leaders, and neighbors who attended her ball games and engaged her in conversations about her life in and out of school settings.
I think it’s cool that she still maintains a relationship with one of her middle school teachers, a high school teacher, and her Young Life leader. I appreciate them enhancing her life in a way that I couldn’t because I was not in the schools daily or hanging out with her socially. I was so thankful that they made themselves available to mentor her and provide guidance on issues related to academic and personal decisions in her formative years. I am thankful now that they are still in the conversation as she approaches college graduation and grown folk decisions.
There are some folks who were extremely involved in our lives when the kids were younger, but now are not so close to us. Many of them I believed would always be villagers for my kids and forever closely tied to my family. I learned, however, that villagers often have a season and that is just fine. I learned to appreciate their time of service and to express my gratitude to them. I find myself listening to people discuss their interests, educational undertakings, hobbies, and travels trying to figure out if there is a connection that might benefit the development of one of my kids. I don’t expect everyone I meet, nor would I want everyone I meet, to have a long term connection to my kids, but many people have areas of giftedness or life experiences that can make the lives of my kids easier and more meaningful. Who wouldn’t want that for their babies?! For example, if your child thinks he/she wants to join the Peace Corps and you meet someone who either joined the Peace Corps or has a friend who did, consider connecting your child with that person. You might also meet someone who has traveled extensively to study and work with international organizations. This person might provide new insights and direction even if their areas of expertise are not exact matches. The goal is to educate your kid and provide exposure to tangible, useful information. The other beautiful thing that happens every time you connect your kid to something the kid says or shows an interest in doing or being your kid knows his/her thoughts and interests matter to you. If the kid’s thoughts
and interests matter to you, the kid knows you really hear his/her passions and care deeply. Your kid loves knowing that you think about them even when you are not with them. So, making beneficial connections for your child creates a win-win situation!