Years ago, I heard of a high school principal who shared with a room of educators an experience from her personal life.
While speaking with her neighbor one day, she mentioned how her daughter was interested in art. The next day, her neighbor appeared on her doorstep with an unexpected gift: paint, paint brushes, and art supplies so her daughter could get started.
Obviously, this principal was moved. She couldn’t believe what her neighbor had done for her daughter. Her message to the room of educators was this: “That is what it means to be an educator – to make a personal investment in someone else’s child.”
I love this story because it applies to parenting, too. It’s what “the village” is all about. After parenting for 14 years, I’ve learned how the best gift you can give any parent is to genuinely love their child. This means caring about their well-being, recognizing what makes them special, and sharing your time, talent, or treasure.
While speaking to young moms at my church recently, I sensed a village camaraderie. I could tell it was in force as they laughed and bounced babies on their laps. I encouraged them to keep it up, because as kids grow older, the village tends to shift. The “we’re in this together” mentality that helps moms survive the toddler years can unexpectedly weaken as parents get more competitive, more skeptical, or more protective in creating a hedge around their family.
After all, loving a baby or snaggle-toothed child is easy – but loving a teenager who may be more talented, successful, or celebrated than your child isn’t always the natural response. Same goes for loving a teenager who just made a bad mistake and now everybody is talking about them.
In regards to my village, it differs a little from child to child. While some faces are constant, like family members and close friends, each daughter also has certain adults who have a soft spot for them.